You may have heard that you need to optimise your title tags for search engines, but you are unsure what that means. This article is going to explain what title tags are and how you can SEO them.
Read on to find out more.
What are title tags?
Title tags are an HTML element that defines the title of a web page. The title tag is a required HTML tag, and you place it within the document head. Web pages do not display title tags, but you will see them appear as the browser tab’s title.
You use title tags in the following format:
<head> <title>This is the title of your page</title> </head>
Note that some people refer to title tags as ‘meta titles’. Technically, title tags are not meta tags, so we will not refer to them as such. You need to know this though, as it could be confusing to have people mentioning meta titles and title tags.
Does Google use title tags?
Yes, Google and other search engines use title tags within their ranking algorithms. Title tags indicate to search engines the content of a web page, so optimising title tags is crucial.
The title tag is also often used as the title for organic search results. Google will not always use the title tag as the search result title if its algorithm determines more appropriate text exists.
Here is an example of the title tag for our homepage in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages):
How to write SEO title tags – best practices
Now you know what title tags are and why they are essential for SEO, let’s look at how we can optimise them for organic search.
Use your main keyword in your title tag
When optimising your title tags, the most critical step is to make sure that you include your primary keyword. Remember that Google and other search engines use the title tag to understand a page’s content. Including your main keyword in the title tag of a web page sends a strong relevancy signal to search engines as to the page’s content.
Make sure that you do not keyword stuff your title tag. You only need to include your main keyword once. If possible, you can add in a secondary keyword.
SEO title tag length
Google will crop title tags that are longer than 600 pixels. The number of characters displayed depends on the characters used, e.g. ‘w’ is a lot wider than ‘i’. Generally, 60 characters or less is a good target for the length of a title tag if you want to display the entire title in SERPs.
Suppose your title is longer than 600 pixels. In that case, you want to make sure to include anything important within the first 600 pixels (approximately 60 characters).
Do not duplicate title tags
Avoid using duplicate title tags across your website. The purpose of the title tag for SEO is to indicate to search engines what a page’s content is. Suppose you have lots of pages with identical title tags. In that case, this may indicate that you have duplicate content, resulting in the removal of pages from search results.
Make sure that each title tag is unique and descriptive of its page.
Write engaging titles for users
Google uses engagement metrics, such as click-through rates, to improve its search results. Users clicking on specific search results more than others sends a positive signal. That signal indicates that those search results are most relevant for users.
To improve your rankings and improve your organic search traffic, you should make sure that your title tags are enticing for your target audience. Look at your top-ranking competitors’ titles and see if there are certain words or phrases they are using. These words and phrases may not be keywords, but they could be other important factors for your audience. For example, it could be ‘Next Day Delivery’ in an eCommerce site title tag if the product people are searching for is something they need urgently.
Add your primary keyword near the beginning of the title
You should also position your main keyword near the beginning of your page title. As long title tags are cut short in search results if they are too long, you risk searchers not seeing the keyword in the SERP title if you use your primary keyword towards the end of the title.
Title tag SEO example
We will now look at an example of an optimised title tag from our own Digital Marketing Services page.
The landing page used has been optimised for both ‘digital marketing agency’ and ‘digital marketing services’ keywords. We have combined these keywords to include both within our title tag. We have also kept the title element short so that search engines will not truncate it.
SEO title tag checkers
You might be wondering if you can test your title tags to see how they will look in the SERPs, and the answer is yes! There are several title tag checkers you can use. Still, our recommendation is to use a tool integrated into whichever CMS you are using. That way, you can check your titles as you are adding or updating content to your website.
For example, if you are on WordPress, you can use the Yoast SEO plugin to check your web pages’ titles, as well as other on-page SEO factors.
You now have a great understanding of optimising the title tags of your landing pages for search engines.
If you would like to speak to us about our SEO services, email our team firstname.lastname@example.org.