What is an SEO title? A simple question, yet a vital consideration for the success of your website.
An SEO title can also be called a title tag and is part of a site’s meta data, along with the meta description.
It is important to bear in mind that the title tag is in the HTML code of the website and is displayed in search engine results.
That’s why the title tag should be an accurate representation of what content is found on the page.
IN A RUSH?! Click for our <90 second snapshot
How Long Should an SEO Title Be?
Google will typically display the first 50-60 characters of your title tag. However, there really is no exact character length because characters can vary in width.
Google will max out at 600 pixels, which is where the approximate title length comes from. If you keep titles under 60 characters, there is a 90% chance that your title will display properly.
Why Use Title Tags?
Title tags are important for SEO, and many experts consider them a factor in helping search engines see your website so you can get results.
There are three main areas where title tags are used: search engine results pages, web browsers and social networks.
When a potential customer is looking in the search engine, the first thing they will see is your title tag.
This is the searcher’s first experience with your site, so it can be a determining factor for whether someone clicks on your website or not.
Title Tags vs H1 Headings
The title tag also displays on the top of your web browser. This is especially important for people that have a lot of browser tabs open at once.
You want your title tag to be recognizable with keywords in the front, so that people don’t lose track of your content.
If someone is doing research for a product or service, they may have multiple tabs open, so your title tag should be unique but still properly explain the content on that page so people return to it.
When users post a link on social networks, many times the title tag will be shown in the link preview.
Some social networks like Facebook allow you to change what appears so it differs from your main title, but the title tag of your website is usually the default.
The title tag should not be confused with the heading that users see on the page.
The heading of the page can be referred to as the heading tag or the H1 tag.
The H1 tag should be different from the title tag. This allows another opportunity to explain to users the content of the page and allow you to add keywords to the page.
Title Tag Tips
When writing title tags, there are some recommendations in order to optimize for both search engines and usability.
You should have already done your research so you know what keywords are best to use. One of the ways you should look at a title tag is as an advertising headline.
Get the reader to stop and pay attention to your website.
Pay attention to the title length. Even though there isn’t necessarily a maximum, you don’t want to have your title tag cut off in the search engine.
Avoid using all caps because it makes it harder for users to read and it will cut into the character limit, since it’s about pixels and not an actual character cap.
Sometimes, even if the title tag length is below the pixel limit, Google will still cut it off. There are tools you can use when writing title tags to check to see what Google will show.
SEO Title Keywords
Add keywords, but don’t overuse them. If you start keyword stuffing your title tags, Google may catch on to it, and it also provides a bad experience for the user, who may not want to click on your website.
Titles should not just be a list of keywords or different variants of the same keyword.
Put the important keywords first. According to some research, the keywords that are listed first have more of an impact for search engines.
As part of user experience, people are only going to scan the first few words.
This is why the first words should be the most important. Avoid titles that start with the brand name, in order to avoid having too many titles with just repetitive information.
If your title tag does get cut off in the search engine, then the most important information will appear first.
Every page should have a unique title tag. This helps search engines know that your content is unique and it will help drive higher click-through rates.
For websites with a lot of pages this can seem like a daunting task, but there are tools available to help craft title tags that are driven by the content on the page.
If your website is in WordPress, there are SEO in WordPress tools that can do this for you, especially for product categories and product pages. Avoid any default tags, such as “Home” or “New Page.”
This could cause Google to think that you have duplicate content across your website or other websites in general.
These types of title tags reduce click-through rates since users won’t know if the information they are searching for is going to be on that page.
Your Brand in Your Title Tag
Some argue that it’s not necessary to put your brand in the title tag, but adding your brand can help raise brand awareness.
At the same time, if you have a well-known brand it could help boost the click-through rate.
However, it’s still advisable to put your brand at the end of the tag, so you avoid having an important keyword being cut off and give more weight to the keyword instead of the brand.
The right format should be Primary Keyword-Secondary Keyword-Brand Name for proper SEO.
Even though title tags are an important part of SEO, it’s necessary to write for your customers.
You want to attract customers that will find your content valuable. When you are thinking about the user experience on your website and thinking about targeting visitors, it will benefit your SEO.
What if Google Isn’t Using Your Title Tag?
Google may choose not to display the title tag you have indicated for a few reasons.
If your title doesn’t match the searcher’s query, Google may decide to display something else.
This isn’t necessarily bad, but if your title is being overruled for keywords that have higher search volume, you may want to rewrite it so that it can match better.
If your title is too keyword stuffed, Google won’t display it and it’s a good idea to rewrite it in order to gain optimal search results.
You may have an alternative title set up in your code for social networks, and Google may choose to pull that one instead. If it’s creating too much of a problem, it’s best to rewrite them.
What Is the SEO Description?
There is another component of the SEO title, and that is the meta description, which is a description of the page that appears underneath the title tag in the search engine results.
Even with a set SEO description or meta description, sometimes Google will pull a different description from the page in order to help answer the searcher’s query intent.
There isn’t a character limit for meta descriptions, but Google will usually truncate the description at about 300 characters.
Meta descriptions don’t have as much SEO value as a title tag does, but they are a big factor in click-through rate.
It’s an opportunity for marketers to help advertise their content to searchers, and the searcher will have a chance to decide if the information is relevant to what they need.
Tips for SEO Descriptions
Since the meta description is a function of advertising copy, it needs to be compelling.
Content should include keywords, but it still needs to be relevant and really explain what users can find on that page.
When displaying the meta description, Google and other search engines will often bold the keywords so that users can see what matches the query they typed in.
Just as with title tags, you want to have a unique meta description for each page. Just like with title tags, there are ways to automate meta descriptions.
Characters and Social Media
Don’t use double quotation marks in a meta description, because Google will cut off the description at that point when it appears in the listing. The best practice is to remove all alphanumeric characters.
Meta descriptions are also used on social media links.
If there is no meta description, the site may just pull the first text it sees, which could lead to a bad user experience for those who are coming to your website from the social site.
Sometimes Google will identify a snippet of text for the page that it thinks matches the searcher’s query better, and will display that as the meta description.
This can be unpredictable, so don’t be alarmed if you see this happening in search results.
What is an SEO Slug?
You may have heard of the term SEO slug and could be wondering if it’s the same thing as a title tag or meta description. It’s actually the editable part of an URL.
If you are writing a blog post in WordPress or another content management system, you will see that the URL will be something like: yourwebsite.com/blog/title-of-blog.
The SEO slug and URL will appear in the search engine, so making the slug clear will help the click-through rate.
There are a few ways to optimize your slug for usability and SEO effectiveness, but it’s not really hard because the most important thing is to make it clear to the reader what is on the page.
Remove any of the filler words. You don’t need to add “the” and “and.” Make sure the slug makes sense, but filter out unnecessary words. It should be short but descriptive.
Write for the user instead of the search engine or crawler. Use a keyword if it makes sense for the content on the page.
Everything You Need to Know About SEO Titles
The title tag is a piece of HTML, which tells users and search engines the name of an article or piece of content. This is displayed on SERPs, in browsers, an anywhere else there is a page preview.
Depending on your site, it may also be displayed at the top of the page.
In terms of creating effective title tags, there are two things to keep in mind. First, they should be informed by the keyword focus of the content. Second, they should describe the content in an enticing way, in order to maximise clicks.