What is a title tag?
Whether you’re writing a blog, page content, or a landing page for your website, the title tag is the HTML element that identifies the title of that page on your website. Title tags are one of the most important elements of your on-page SEO. They’re used by search engines to classify your page on search engine results pages (SERPs), and they show up on those SERPs as that big blue headline that searchers click on. Think of a title tag as a concise way to tell both search engines, and search engine users what exactly is on your page. Here’s an example of one of our title tags in action on a Google results page:You, a search engine user, can tell from the title tag that HA Digital Marketing is a website design and inbound marketing agency. It’s clear, concise, and easy to understand. Both search engines and search engine users know exactly what they’ll get when they navigate to our website by clicking that title tag.
Why are title tags important?
Search engines crawl your website to categorize and rank it, and they use two major pieces of information to do so: 1) the content on your website, and 2) your title tags. While search engines will inevitably crawl your entire site for SEO clues and ideas of how well your site should rank, these are the two most important factors.
Now, if you’re familiar with SEO at all, you know that content is king. Your site content is the number one thing search engines use to classify and rank your site, but it’s not the only factor that those bots look at. They’re also going to look at your title tags to make sure they match up with the keywords you’re targeting in your content. It’s important that you have a keyword, or some variation of your target keyword in a page’s title tag if you want to rank well. In addition to helping boost your page ranking, title tags are important for three reasons:
Enticing SERP Clicks
Your title tag determines what is going to show up in big blue letters on a search engine results page. That is the first thing any search engine user is going to see, and when your title tag is well written, it can make the difference between someone just skimming by, or stopping to click on your page link.
Especially if someone viewing your content has a lot of tabs open, your title tag will help them keep track of your page. After someone has clicked on your page from SERPs, your title tag shows up at the very top of the web browser, identifying the page the user is browsing.
If you’ve ever seen blog posts or articles on Facebook like the one above, you’ll notice that underneath the image, there’s usually a title that’s large and bolded. That is the article or blog’s title tag telling Facebook how to identify the page. It helps social media users figure out what to expect from the linked information, and decide whether or not they want to click.
Where do I find my title tags?
If you’re not familiar with the metadata behind your site, you might not know where your title tags are, and that’s okay. They’re actually pretty easy to find, especially if you’re working with WordPress. When you’re writing a post in WordPress, your title tag will automatically become whatever you type in the headline bar, seen below:
Since you want your title tag to be slightly different from your headline to target more keywords, it’s best to manually input your own title tags. Since we use WordPress, we’re big fans of the Yoast SEO Plugin that makes it easy for you to put in all that important metadata yourself. After you’ve installed it, you’ll find this box at the bottom of your post’s text:
Simply click “Edit Snippet,” and then type in whatever title tag is best for you in the box named “SEO Title,” and you’re set! But before you even get to that, you need to know what it is you’re going to type into that box…
How to write perfect title tags
It’s clear now that title tags are a pretty visible aspect of your SEO strategy, but how can you write title tags that cater to both search engines and web users at the same time? Writing for real people and search engine bots simultaneously isn’t easy, but it can be done. When you’re crafting your page title tags, keep the following tips in mind:
Under 60 Characters
Most search engines display the first 50-60 characters in a title tag. If yours goes over that, it will likely be cut off, which means users won’t be able to read the entire thing, which lessens your chances of getting those organic clicks. Your first goal should be to write a title tag that’s less than 60 characters, so that at the very least, users can read it.
Give each page a different title
Just like you avoid duplicate page content, so should you avoid duplicate title tags. If you have duplicate title tags, search engines might assume that the page content to follow is also a duplicate, which can hurt your rankings. The more unique title tags you have, the more likely search engines are to understand that you have rich, original content that’s likely to be valuable to their users.
Don’t keyword stuff
Title tags are a very front-facing aspect of your site’s HTML. If you’re selling mattresses and your title tag is “Cheap Mattresses, Best Mattresses for Sale, Buy Mattresses at Mattress World” it’s going to look pretty sketchy to a search engine user. They’re not likely to click on it, because it looks like you’re trying way too hard. What’s more, if you start writing title tags like this, search engines are likely to start penalizing you, just as they would if you were keyword stuffing your content.
Put important keywords at the front
While you don’t want to keyword stuff, it’s good to have one or two different keywords in your title tag, especially if they’re at the front. Moz, one of the leading SEO experts out there today, suggests that businesses write their title tags like this:
Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Brand Name
Foam Mattresses – Beds & Bed Frames | Mattress World
This way, you’re expressing to both search engines and search engine users what is on your page, and who that page is coming from. Research has shown that most people scan only the first few words of any headline, which is just another reason why it’s better to put that primary keyword upfront.
When it comes to writing title tags, the most important thing to remember is that they’re visible to users. So, if you wouldn’t click on that title tag, your ideal clients probably won’t either. Write with those clients in mind, incorporate one unique keyword, and you’re sure to have an effective title tag every time.
Why does my title tag show up differently on Google?
It is good to know that from time to time, Google might change the way your title tag appears on their search results page. Sometimes they do this to make your page fit a query better, and other times, they’ll rewrite it if the title tag you wrote is keyword stuffed. If you’re noticing your title tags aren’t coming up the way you wrote them, you can rewrite them for a better chance at them showing up the way you prefer.
Optimizing your title tags is just one of many ways to ensure your site ranks well on search engines, and entices organic clicks from your ideal clients. If you’re worried your site isn’t performing as well as it should, don’t be afraid to figure out what isn’t working. Check with HA Digital Marketing for a free inbound marketing evaluation, and we’ll let you know what’s missing.