What is a Website Title Tag?
Search engine optimization (SEO) involves multiple elements and techniques that can all have an effect on the performance of your site. SEO is a popular and effective form of search engine marketing (learn more about SEM for ecommerce). Even seemingly minor things can make a difference and form part of the tapestry of SEO methods that you use. One of the smaller but no less significant elements that you need to consider for your web pages is the title tag. A meta title tag is there to tell both people and search engines what the page is all about. It’s a vital part of SEO for all websites, even though it’s short.
When using a search engine, the title tag is one of the first things that users will see from a page, along with the description. But what is a “title tag”, how important is it, and how does it really affect your SEO? This guide will explain all about what an SEO title tag is and how you can use them effectively.
What Is a Title Tag?
A title tag is an HTML indicator, also called a meta title tag. It’s used to let search engines know what a page is about, as well as to give people key information. The title tag is the linked text in blue at the top of a search result. It gives you the opportunity to write a title that is eye-catching, tells the reader what to expect, and contains a keyword or keywords.
A title tag might contain a couple of key pieces of information. It should include what’s on the page, and it might also include the name of the website or company so people know exactly what they’re clicking on.
After you click on a link in search engine results, you will still see the title tag in the browser, at the top of the tab. So the user will still see which page is which if they have multiple tabs open, and they will be reminded of what the page is about.
How long is a title tag?
A title tag can’t be too long. If it goes past a certain length, it will get cut off by the search engine. Most title tags are a maximum of around 60 characters, although the exact length can vary slightly. You don’t want to have your title tag cut off in the search engine results or users won’t get the full picture.
Why Do Title Tags Matter?
Title tags might seem like just one small element in SEO, and perhaps you’re wondering whether they really make much of a difference. But, although they may be short, title tags are actually a significant part of on-page SEO. Google counts it as an important factor, using the title tag to determine how relevant the page is and what it’s for. The title is the most important part of your content in the structure of the page, with other subheadings carrying less weight.
Your keywords should be included in your SEO title tag, and that helps to ensure that the page is optimized for the right audience. An optimized title tag clearly indicates to search engines what the page is about and enhances the user experience at the same time, helping you to improve the ranking of the page in search results. When your title tag is optimized, you can improve the click-through rate, which also indicates to search engines that your page is relevant and useful.
It’s not just keywords that your title tags should contain. They should also be appealing to the reader, indicating how they’ll benefit from clicking through to your site and drawing in the reader.
Important: title tags and H1 tags are different
One important thing to remember is that an SEO title tag and an H1 header are not the same. The H1 is the first heading you see at the top of the page. Like the title tag, it will give users an indication of what they’re about to read, but it doesn’t show up in search results. However, it will often contain many of the same words to the title tag and look very similar.
How to Write Effective SEO Title Tags
Learning how to write an effective title tag can help you to improve your search engine rankings significantly. There are many things that you can do to write a title that performs well, so take some of these things into account to make your title tags effective.
Make all title tags unique
When you’re writing title tags for different pages, you need to make sure that each tag you write is unique. Duplicate titles could affect you negatively, preventing you from performing well in search engine results. Multiple pages that have the same title make it difficult to distinguish one page from the next and don’t really tell either search engines or people what the page is about.
If you want each SEO title tag to be unique, consider your keywords for each page and what the page is bringing to the table. Your title should reflect your business and what it can offer, telling users what to expect from your products and services. Even when you have many different pages, you can make use of templates for faster title tag writing. Don’t use the same words, but follow a set format that’s easy to fill in for different pages.
Include your keywords
Your keywords are an essential part of your title tags. They make it clear what the page is about and help it to show up in the right search queries. Giving each page on your site a unique keyword or keyword phrase makes it easier for search engines to decide which page to show in search results for specific queries. It also appeals to users more, helping them to immediately spot that your page is relevant to their query.
Try to put your keywords at the front of your SEO title tag so that they’re immediately visible. Long-tail keywords can be very handy for a couple of reasons. Firstly, they help to make your title more specific for readers, so it’s easier for them to see if the page is useful for them. They also help you to keep your titles unique, making it a little easier to use different keywords for each page.
However, make sure you only use one keyword per title tag. Don’t simply fill up the character allowance with keywords because keyword stuffing has been frowned upon for a long time now.
Use powerful words
The power of words can help you to grab the attention of your reader when you’re writing SEO title tags. There are lots of words that are commonly used to help titles pack a punch and show readers that your page is both helpful and entertaining. You can use words like how, what, why, and where to give an indication of what readers can expect. Using words to stir up emotion can be a good idea too. Emotive words such as incredible, amazing, shocking, and other adjectives can draw people in.
Use words to make promises too, with words such as best, ultimate, or even review telling people what they can find. Including numbers, especially in list posts, also gives a clear indication of what users can expect from your page.
Include company/brand names
You will notice that a lot of websites include company and brand names in their title tags. This helps to make it quicker to identify the website and the content of the page, but you might not want to use them all the time. It makes sense to use your brand name for your home page, to clearly identify who you are. Putting it at the start of your title is a good idea. When you have product or service pages, you might include your brand name here too. In this case, it can look better at the end of the title, first identifying the product or service and then letting people know who’s providing it. You can include the brand name of the product or service at the beginning and the name of the seller at the end if they are different.
If you overuse your company name in the wrong way, it could have a negative impact. For example, only using your brand on multiple title tags could confuse search engines and it doesn’t tell anyone much about the pages. It looks repetitive and won’t really do your SEO any favors.
Truncated and rewritten tags
Keep in mind that Google might change what your SEO title tag looks like. If your title is too long, you might see it shortened. To prevent this from happening, you can use various tools to check the length of your title.
Another thing that might happen is Google rewriting your tag, which it might do to make your title more relevant. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it can improve performance, but you should create well-written tags if you want to avoid it.
Our small business SEO services can help you with title tags and more. Get in touch to learn more about how we can be of assistance.