Search engines analyze dozens of on-page factors to determine which keywords and positions a web page should rank for. While content is the most powerful on-page factor, the title tag is a close second.
For high search rankings that drive traffic to your website, you must create SEO-friendly title tags.
What Is the Title Tag?
The title tag is a meta element used to denote the title of a web page to web browsers as well as search engines. Web browsers display the title tag in tabs. When a user visits a web page, his or her web browser will display the page’s title tag, or some of the title tag, at least, in the tab.
More importantly, search engines often use title tags to create organic listings for their search index. Google, Bing, Yahoo and even less popular search engines like Ask.com and DuckDuckGo use the same format consisting of a short title and longer description for their organic listings.
When search engines crawl a web page, they’ll generally pull the title tag to use for the short title and the meta description to use for the longer description.
Make It Relevant to the Page’s Content
Because they are displayed in the search results, title tags should be highly relevant to the content of the web pages on which they are used. If a title tag doesn’t match the web page’s content, one of two things will happen:
Users will click the web page’s organic listing expecting one type of content, only to receive different content after the page has loaded.
After discovering the lack of relevancy between the web page’s title tag and its content, search engines will create their own title for the page’s organic listing.
Include Your Target Keyword
When creating title tags, include the main search query for which you want the page to rank. Keyword usage in the title tag heavily influences a web page’s search rankings.
If a title tag contains a specific word or phrase, search engines may index it at the top of their search results for that word or phrase.
Try to place your target keyword either at the beginning or close to the beginning of the title tag. According to a Nielsen study, the average person will decide whether to keep reading a headline after the first 11 characters.
If you place your target keyword past 11 characters, users may not see it, resulting in fewer clicks on the web page’s organic listing.
In addition to attracting more clicks, placing your target keyword at the beginning of the title tag can directly increase the web page’s search rankings.
Research shows web pages with their target keyword at the beginning of their title tag rank higher on Google than web pages with their target keyword in the middle or at the end of their title tag.
Aim for 66 Characters
There’s no technical limit to how many characters you can include in a title tag. Like other meta elements, title tags aren’t displayed on web pages, so they won’t take up any digital real estate on your website.
However, you should still aim for 66 characters, or as close to 66 characters without going over as possible, when creating title tags for maximum exposure on Google.
Google only displays up to 66 characters of the title tag. If you create longer title tags, your website’s listings on Google won’t display properly. Rather, Google will cut off the end of your titles, affixing them with three periods.
Other search engines may display more or fewer characters of the title tag, but Google displays a maximum of 66 characters. And since Google now processes over 92 percent of all online searches, you should target it with your website’s SEO efforts.
Don’t Reuse Title Tags
Never reuse title tags on multiple web pages. In other words, create a unique title tag for each web page on your website. If you use the same title tag for two or more pages, Google may view the pages as duplicate content, choosing only to index one of the pages.
Creating unique title tags shows Google each page has unique content to prevent indexing problems attributed to duplicate content.
Add Website’s Brand Name to the End
If allowed within the 66-character limit, add your website’s brand name to the end of your title tags. Even if a user doesn’t click your website’s organic listing in the search results, he or she will still see its brand name listed in the title, allowing you to raise greater awareness for your brand.
Furthermore, search engines can differentiate your website’s pages from competing pages with similar titles if you use a unique, brand name in your title tags.
When adding your website’s brand name to the end of title tags, separate it from the rest of the title using either a hyphen, colon or vertical bar.
Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Brand Name
8-foot Green Widgets – Widgets & Tools | Widget World
Don’t Change Title Tags Too Frequently
Avoid changing your website’s title tags too frequently. When you modify a web page’s title tag, search engines may assume the content has also changed, so they’ll lower temporarily lower the page’s search rankings. The web page’s search rankings may return, but the recovery could take weeks or months.
Boost CTR Using Numbers
To make your title tags more click-worthy and, therefore, increase your website’s click-through rating (CTR) in the search results, add numbers when it’s relevant to the page’s content.
According to a study by Conductor, titles with a number, expressed as a figure, not spelled out, attract over twice as many clicks as numberless titles. Numbers, like brand names, make titles stand out in search results, so users are more likely to click them.
You don’t need to include a number in all your title tags. But if a web page contains a numbered list, add that number to its title tag.
The title tag isn’t the only on-page SEO factor. Others include the URL slug, loading speed, keyword usage in headers, image alt text, internal links, mobile friendliness, and HTTPS. For over a decade, though, the title tag has been a dominant on-page SEO factor.
By using the right title tags, you can orchestrate an effective SEO strategy for your website.
Not sure how to get your title tags perfectly optimized, our SEO consultants in Thailand are happy to help!