SEO

The Forgotten Art of Creating Good Title Tags

The humble Title tag.

One of the starting points of any on page SEO work.

Maybe calling it humble is actually a little unfair, after all, this is arguably one of the most powerful on page elements a site can have.

SEO and online marketing changes all the time, but the Title tag is an element that continues to play a huge part in any campaign.

Because of its longevity as an important factor I sometimes get the feeling that it can become over looked, almost taken for granted, yet so much can ride on the Title tag alone:

  • Highlighting to the search engines your relevance to a term or product
  • Helping you to stand out from the crowd
  • Enticing in potential clients or customers
  • One of many important ranking factors

Getting your Title tag right will make a difference in so many areas.

What is a Title Tag?

Ok, let’s go back to basics because not everyone has this knowledge.

The Title tag is the line of information that is displayed within the SERP’s (Search Engine Result Pages) above the description.

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This is the stand out statement that you are putting out there to entice potential visitors into your site.

The code for this tag sits within the section of your sites source code. The tag should already be in place, even if you have never touched it.

Almost all sites have this tag included within the code as standard. The code looks like this:

<title>This Is Your Title</title>

To edit it, simply add the text you wish to include within the opening and closing commands.

Each page of your site should have a unique Title tag. Don’t edit your Home page and think that is job done. Each page needs to be optimized and relevant to the content or product of the individual page.

Guidelines

The recommended length of any Title tag is a maximum of 70 characters. Anything longer and you run the risk of having the dreaded “…” at the end of your Title tag.

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Aim for around 60 characters, sometimes this isn’t possible and you need those extra characters. Having license to use up to 70 doesn’t mean you have to.

It is worth pointing out that there is no evidence that proves text after the 70 character mark is ignored by Google.

Personally I see any text that isn’t displayed as a waste – so why include it?

Creating the Perfect Title Tag

Here’s the thing, there is no exact formula. No “one size fits all”. Every website is different. How you put your message across depends on the audience you are looking to target. In truth any Title tag that does its job is perfect.

Let’s look at some scenarios.

I want to buy a Dog Mat so I carry out that exact search: ‘Dog Mats’

The results show a variety of different ways you can create your Title tags.

Our first example gets straight to the point:

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Here we see a good amount of information in only 43 characters:

  • The targeted key term
  • The make of the dog mat
  • The price

This is simplistic and manages to cover a lot of ground. It’s neat without giving too much information.

What about an alternative?

Our next example is slightly different:

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Here we again have:

  • The targeted key term
  • The make
  • Descriptive text

However this time we have the addition of the word “durable”.

This adds a different form of information. The other mats may be sold at a good price but if someone is looking for more than just a good price then including that their mats are durable may be the selling point.

Again this is a nice mid length Title tag. At only 48 characters in length, they could have actually included the price as well (if competitive) to have given it yet another dimension.

What if the potential customer was looking for a local store?image00512 637x147 The Forgotten Art of Creating Good Title Tags

The inclusion of your destination not only helps you in your Local SEO campaign (you do have one right?) but also provides that further bit of information that could bring in the sale.

What other information could have been included?

Dog Mats are a pretty generic product.

If this was a product such as Men’s Running Trainers, then there are other snippets of information you may want to think about:

• The product name
• The product code
• The color
• The size
• The price

If someone is looking for a pair of running trainers, size 8 in blue for around £50 then you can cover that in one simple Title tag:

Men’s (brand name) Running Trainers | Blue and Silver | Size 8 | £55

By including more relevant information as opposed to the generic version “Men’s Running Trainers | Buy Online” you can capture the searcher at the time of purchase.

You are also including information the search engines will find relevant.

Including your company name?

Everyone has their own thoughts on this one.

Basically it is up to you and your personal preference.

This is valuable retail space and adding your company name to each Title obviously takes up characters.

Think about the value including your company name may bring. Are you well known? Does including your company name actually add to the value of the product or service you are trying to promote?

If your company name is synonymous to the brand then including it is obviously a very good idea.

For example it would be hard to sell a pair of Nike trainers without mentioning Nike.

So think about the relevance of your company name or brand name and the value it adds.

You may wish to test this to see what gets the best results. Start by excluding your company name within the title on a page and seeing what Click through Rate (CTR) you obtain before including it a month later and monitoring the same data.

It doesn’t end there

All of the above options are affective and if tailored into a way that truly sells your page, it will serve you well.

What about blog posts?

This is where your focus should change. More often than not blog posts or articles address an opinion; therefore you need a more natural Title tag to truly describe the page.

You may have written a post in reply to a frequently asked question. As a result the Title tag should be the question you are addressing. This is what people will be searching for so this is what you want to be found for.

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If you are writing an opinion piece in reaction to something that has happened in your industry then try and include the important element from the original story.

In Summary

There really is no ultimate solution.

There is no formula that fits all Title tags.

Make sure all the relevant information is included.

Stand out.

Do you address the search query that has been entered?

If not it’s time to get to work.

If you have any thoughts on Title tags and suggestions for the readers of Search Engine Journal, please feel free to share them in the comments below.

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Andy Williams

Andy Williams is a Digital Marketing Manager at Koozai with over 9 years’ experience in online marketing and SEO. Andy has worked with a wide range of clients from a number of sectors improving their online presence. A DADI award winner in 2010 for “Best Use of Organic Search”.
12eba700e0cdb8479c2c722bec38199d 64 The Forgotten Art of Creating Good Title Tags

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10 thoughts on “The Forgotten Art of Creating Good Title Tags

  1. I agree, we’ve seen that title tags have made a huge impact on our ability to rank in the SERPs. Over time Google had devalued other on-page elements, Will this be the case with Title Tags also?

    1. Hi Aaron,

      I agree with you that Google has devalued some factors which were helping to rank. But there are some factors like unique content, header tags, responsive design structure and title tag which is very important for search engines to get an idea about the page.

      Google is trying to destroy SERP manipulating techniques like paid linking and content spam, Google also has mentioned in its guideline that it wants quality sites which is informative.

  2. This is a great post, Andy and so relevant!

    I think people have forgotten that, above everything else, good title tags help our human readers. A simple, descriptive title tag can often make the difference between a click or not. Thanks for a great Wednesday morning read!

    1. Hi Clare,

      Glad you enjoyed the post.

      It is such a “back to basics” area that most people have forgotten the whole purpose of the Title tag. It’s good to have a reminder that this can be such a powerful element and time should be spent getting it right.

      Commenting on Aaron’s thoughts about whether this will ever be an area that Google devalues: personally I don’t think so. It’s such an important element. They may change the line between a good Title tag and an overly optimised Title tag but personally I can’t see it becoming devalued any time soon.

      What is important to remember is that even if Google did devalue it as a ranking factor – it will always remain an important selling point for your site. The information you include will always play a part in someone clicking through to your page or going elsewhere.

  3. a great post, something I’ve tried to get across a number of times on my blog, and the same with meta descriptions. Somehow training people to understand and follow the ideas above is not really that easy

    1. Hi Andy,

      It is a strange one isn’t it and trying to get people to change the way they work on Title tags can sometimes be a challenge. It’s getting people to really think about how they structure them to truly target the audience they are looking to reach out to.

      So many people, who many have as much experience, tend to think that simply carrying out basic optimisation is enough and “I’ll get found eventually” and of course that isn’t the case.

  4. Andy, good point. Important enough for me to check my sight when I get home. By the way, found your page via StumbleUpon. I will also be checking some other aspects of my site.

    Regards
    Adam

    1. Hi Adam,

      I’m glad the post has given you some pointers.

      Run your site through a tool like Screaming Frog and that will give you a nice layout of your Title tags in one easy report which will just make things a little easier to manage.

  5. This is especially important for bloggers to consider when they are giving their latest post a title. Too often the focus is entirely on working the targeted keywords into the title without making any mention of what they are saying about that specified topic. The titles used for blog posts are the only pitch that many websites will get the chance to make in the SERPs so having an informative title is a necessity.