Title tags are used to specify the title of a web page; they’re clickable elements that lead you to the content on a page. It is what you see in the SERP (Search Engine Results Page), tab headline, or social media description. Frequently, you will hear people referring to title tags as SEO titles, or meta titles, but these terms generally all mean the same thing.
Why Are Title Tags Important?
There are two main reasons why title tags are important. First of all, they are an SEO ranking factor (and who doesn’t like to rank?). The second reason title tags are important, is they have the opportunity to enhance or hurt a user’s experience. Title tags help search engines understand that your content is unique and important, not to mention they are usually a user’s first interaction with your brand or website. This means an accurate title tag, that actually represents the content on the page — click-bait and inaccurate title tags will only hurt user experience and, Google is starting to penalize companies’ search results for false information. Not only that, but sometimes a web browser like Google will decide to modify your title tag if it thinks that it doesn’t properly represent the information on the page.
On a SERP or social media channel, a title tag provides a brief description of the page’s content. Some platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, give you the option of changing the title tag in order to cater to your users’ needs. Title tags can also be found on tab headlines of web browsers, helping a visitor easily recognize a page. If you are anything like me, and have an outrageous and seemingly unreasonable amount of tabs open at the same time, the site’s title tag can act as a helpful placeholder.
How to Write Your Title Tags
In a perfect world (I know, but I keep dreaming anyway!) a title tag should be between 50 to 60 characters in length, to ensure that the entire tag shows up in the SERP. However, it is a bit more complicated than that. The title tag’s exact length is based on a 600-pixel container, meaning that a title tag’s actual length depends greatly on the size of the characters you use. For instance, lowercase letters take up less space than upper case letters — and letters like W take up more space than a letter like I. Luckily, there are lots of online tools like the Yoast plug-in or SEOmofo that can preview your title tags for you. If you’re looking to add a bit more clarity, using pipes ( | ) to separate different parts of the the title tag is a very common practise. Pipes also use less space, giving you room for more characters.
As a general rule, try to write your title tags in this format:
Primary Keyword(s) | Brand Name in City, Province (*abbreviated)
Primary Keyword(s) | Brand Name, City, Province (*abbreviated)
What Are Title Tags? | Strathcom Media, Edmonton, AB
To write or modify the title tag on a page, follow these simple steps:
1. Login to the back-end of your website.
2. Look for the specific page or post you want to add the title tag to.
3. Scroll to the bottom of the content to the Yoast SEO plug-in section.
4. Click on the Content Optimization widget on the left.
5. Click on the Edit Snippet button. Three boxes will appear: one for SEO title or title tag, one for the slug, and another for the meta description.
6. To add or modify the title tag, add your text in the SEO title section.
7. You should also ensure you have an appropriate slug and meta description (sounds like an idea for a future blog post if you ask me).
8. Save your changes, sit back, and watch your rankings improve (warning: rankings will not immediately improve — find something to do in the meantime).
Title Tag Optimization
So what is the best practise for optimizing your title tags? First of all, make sure not to use generic keywords like Home or Homepage — this can trick the search engine into thinking you have duplicate content. This is why it’s so important that you make your title tag or tags unique for each page on your website, while avoiding frequently used keywords like Contact Us. Is it a good idea to see what your competitors are doing on their site? Sure. But don’t just copy them thinking it will boost your ranking to their level. Another practise to avoid is overloading your title tag with keywords, a.k.a. over-optimization, a.k.a. keyword stuffing, because Google might adjust it. Another trick for having an optimal title tag is using numbers where and when possible. Numbers tend to stand out more and draw users’ attention, just like questions and verbs have the ability to excite a potential reader about your content. What, you don’t believe me? Read my article and prove me wrong! Finally, make sure to add some creativity and fun to your title tags, as they are one of the key ingredients that make your content enticing to click on.
And as always, if you need help with your title tags, Strathcom Media has a dedicated content strategy team who lives and breathes all things SEO.