7 Criteria of an Effective Page Title

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Crafting an effective title is genuine art as it should aim at two main targets:

  • to increase click-through (as this is the most prominent element of your site listing in SERPs);
  • to achieve higher rankings (being the most important on-page factor when it comes down to Google).

Thus writing an effective title can’t be taken lightly; it is really difficult to craft a title that will both “help rankings and work in effect as a marketing message.” By just giving the list of page keywords, you are not going to achieve either of these aims.

Let’s look at some of the most important criteria that should be kept in mind when creating a good title:

  • page title should be short and concise (unless you want it’s broken at the end);

long title

  • each page title should be unique and the unique part should go first (if a visitor keeps several tabs from the same open, he should clearly see what each tab is about);
  • it should be catchy (to communicate an effective message);
  • page title should conform to the page purpose (e.g. calling to action or informational);
  • page title should be based on your keywords (for Googlebot to understand what the page is about);
  • page title should be focused (don’t try to include all your keywords in the title the home page);
  • page title should be semantically correct (Google is likely to apply some kind of semantic analysis to titles to make sure they are not spammy).

Chances are your titles do not all comply with all above criteria. However before you go back to your site to change its titles, keep in mind that this should be done really moderately and very carefully.

A global title change (applied to all or large number of pages) is most likely to trigger some kind of penalty (sudden Google referral traffic decrease). So my advice is: change 1 -2 titles and wait 2-3 weeks, then change other 1-2 titles, etc.

Ann Smarty

Ann Smarty

Brand amd Community Manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas
Ann Smarty is the blogger and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. Ann's expertise in blogging and tools serve as a base for her writing,... Read Full Bio
Ann Smarty
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  • jcrn

    Thanks, I’m always trying to fine tune this. Helpful tips here!

  • Matt Ridout

    Have never seen a global ban on title changes. Have worked on many sites, you have any proof of this?

  • nofollow

    I always like what you write. Tampering with meta info could lead to a partial ban. Otherwise people could start experimenting with it. Thanks, Ann!

  • Free Ads

    Effective strategy for writing page title. The same can also be used for writing post title, classified ad titles, etc.

  • Du Nguyen

    Great tips!
    But I was wondering there would be any wrong if we change our page titles too ofter, let say, around once a week or every two/three week?
    Any could this harm our ranking?

    Commenting here, I myself never test this. 🙂

    Thanks for your time.

  • Mercy

    @Ann. It should be catchy – If we provide catchy and hype words in the titles I feel the CTR would decrease as users would feel that the titles are too promotional! What do you feel?

  • Software Testing

    @Ann, what should be the maximum length for Title, especially for Google?

  • SEO Mumbai

    Thanks Ann for another informative post on how to use Title tags. Most of the SEOs make mistake of stuffing their title tag with keywords which have no relevancy with the pages content and it unnecessarily blots the title and then in SERPs we see broken headlines which doesn’t look catchy. My personal thinking is that we should add only those keywords in title tag which we have used in our content on that page and it should be limited to 65 characters only.

  • Software Testing

    @SEO Mumbai, the maximum is 65 or 65-80? from where you derived the exact number?

  • Ann Smarty

    @Matt Ridout, yes, definitely saw that with two of my sites (both more than one year old, both with stable Google referral traffic). 2 weeks after the global title change Google traffic dropped 10 times (both the sites remained in the index).

    @Mercy, ‘catchy’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘promotional’. Then again, the title should of course comply with the purpose of the page (there is no point in making it promotional unless the page only gives some information).

    @Software Testing, I am not sure as for the latest data on that but for a long time I have been trying to make it around 60 characters (that’s a good habit anyway).

  • Software Testing

    @Ann, Thanks.

  • Mercy

    @Ann . Thanks!

  • KP

    @Ann. Is a global change okay if page titles are all the same or if multiple pages are missing title tags?

  • Ann Smarty

    @KP, I would still prefer the step-by-step change (not the global change)

  • Content Writer Micky

    Thanks for that brief outline, which serves as a good reminder. It’s unbelievable how much you can achieve in SERP ranking just with a good Title tag. You can optimize your content as much as you want but if the Title is bad, you can forget about ranking.

    I wasn’t aware of the potential penalty when you change too many titles at once. A new client I had used the same Title tag for all its pages (only about 10 in all), and I created new titles which were implemented in one go. Surely that wouldn’t be penalized??

  • CAP Digisoft Solutions

    Hi Ann,
    As u said that title should be “short and concise”. But i have lot of websites used lengthy title tags and still rank #1 or #2 in most of their top keywords and also for their secondary keywords. Then how does Googlebot missed these websites?

  • IDoBlogs

    Thanks for this article – very nice. One thing I love about most CMS’s is that you can make the article title the page title, and this often naturally becomes the best title for search engines if you’re creative.

  • Seo Web Design Services

    Thanks again Ann.

    Keep the great info coming

  • Wpromote

    Great tips! It’s always good to know what works and what doesn’t. The criterion can easily be used for other ad types as well. Thanks for posting!

  • SEO company

    I totally agree here.
    I’d advise everybody to follow your tips!

  • Terrance Charles

    Great post… My rule is always, if it’s a title that wouldn’t get me to pay attention, it won’t get anybody to pay attention, and I try to stay away from overused phrases that wouldn’t be used in a conversation…

    Terrance Charles

  • SEO Chester

    I find 66 characters for a Page Title is fine and never gets cut off short in Google SERP, it’s the max I would recommend, with spaces. 🙂

  • SEO Outsourcing

    Hi thanks for this great post. Title is really most important factor as far as onsite SEO is concerned. It is really good to read new tips about how to select a title.

  • Santanu

    semantically correct titles? comma separated optional keywords are ok?

  • Ann Smarty

    @Santanu, both could work if they describe the contents of the page well and encourage people to click.

  • James Allen

    Excellent post – pretty much confirms what I have just seen. I changed my entire blogs title tag structure a few days ago and today I’ve found that a number of my latest blog entries have been dropped from the Google index.

    I simply changed the layout in the title tag from: [blog name] :: [blog post title]
    [blog post title] :: [blog name]

    I didn’t think this could cause Google to actually drop my pages from the index.

    Any idea how long it might be until Google reindexes these?

  • Cara Dixon

    Thanks for sharing! A great selection of tips here! Will prove really useful in the future!

  • Mike

    Thanks very much, i am always trying to find new ways to improve my existing knowledge and this has helped very much!