So you have a great website and you’ve put a lot of effort into optimising its content. Maybe this already pays off with a higher ranking on the Search Engine Result Page. But somehow your website traffic didn’t increase. In this blog article, we will provide 7 tips on optimizing your page titles, also known as title tags, to attract more visitors.
First of all, it is good to know where you can find the page title, also called title tag or even SEO title. We prefer to call it the title tag and it is part of the HTML code of your website pages. This means it isn’t directly visible on your website, although most browsers will show your title tag in the browser tab.
Another place where you can find the title tag is on the Search Engine Result Page, the so-called SERP.
The visibility in the SERP is the most important reason to spend time optimising your title tags.
Consider your own behaviour when searching on the internet. First, you type in a search phrase in a search engine, then you scan the results. This scanning is done by quickly reading the titles of the search results. When it convinces you or triggers your attention, you click further.
Did you know these clicks are also important for search engines? The clicks are called a click-through rate (CTR) and it’s an indicator for the search engine if a result suits a search phrase. When a search engine shows a result, but the internet user doesn’t click, it is a sign the result doesn’t suit the search phrase. Eventually, this can have a negative impact on website ranking.
It also works the other way around. If a lot of people click on the link, this indicates the website perfectly suits the search phrase. Over time this will improve the ranking and the website will move up in the search results.
So, a high-quality title tag is a win-win situation. It attracts more visitors, and it also improves your ranking. However, be aware that search engines can be stubborn from time to time. When your title tag doesn’t fully suit the page content, search engines sometimes create their own. When you follow the tips from this article, the chances are minimal your own title tag will be replaced by an automatically created one by the search engine.
Tip #1: Your title tags should trigger to click
To increase the CTR and as a positive side effect improve your ranking, your title tags should function as a trigger to click. It needs to be written in an active and promotional manner. When scanning the search results, it should stand out in the large crowd of competitors.
Tip #2: Your title tags contain the most important keywords
There are two main reasons why you should embed the most important keywords into your title tags.
First, if some words from the search query correspond with words in your title tag, they are being highlighted with a bold font. This will have a positive effect when a user is scanning the search results, simply because bolded words will draw attention. Also, for the user, it is an acknowledgement that the web page meets the search query.
Next to that, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), is even more key, as this also tells the search engine which keywords are important. It is an indicator for the search engine what the content of the page is about. The search engine will scan the page content and if some keywords from the title correspond to the page content, it can really boost your ranking.
For every page you create on your website, make sure you define the most important keywords for that page. These words should be used in the content, but also in the title tag.
Tip #3: Title tags have limited space
On the search engine overview page, a title tag has a fixed maximum width. This means when your title tag is too long, it will be cut off. The part that doesn’t fit will be replaced by three dots…
Let’s zoom in on the most popular search engine out there. Since Google uses a variable-width font, it can’t exactly be determined how long a title tag can be. It fully depends on the width of the characters that are being used. For example, a “W” takes more space than an “I”.
Be also aware that the average amount of characters can differ per screen. On desktop or laptop, Google uses a wider width, compared to mobile screens. Keep the following averages in mind to stay on the save side:
- On larger screens, desktops or laptops, approximately 55 – 65 characters.
- On mobile devices, approximately 35 – 45 characters.
This also includes spaces and punctuation marks!
Knowing you have a limited number of characters, use it wisely and always start with the most important keywords. In other words, try to mention crucial information within the first 35 characters.
Tip #4: Avoid ALL CAPS in your title tags
Maybe you just had a eureka moment. “My title tag should be attracting the attention and it should contain the most important keywords. Let’s write the most important keywords in caps. This will draw the attention even more.”
STOP! On the internet, this could be considered shouting. And this isn’t the only reason to avoid using words in all caps. Capital letters simply use more space. As you already learned, Google only has a fixed amount of width available for the title tag.
Just compare the sentences below:
5 TIPS FOR A WINNING SEO TITLE TAG
5 tips for a winning SEO title tag
Do you see the difference in width? That should convince you, even more, to skip writing title tags in caps.
Tip #5: Branding your company name
The position of your company name in the title tag can be a reason for discussion. Often business owners will say: “I want people to find my company online, so let’s put our company name first in the title tags.”
Please ask yourself the following question: Am I optimising my web pages to be found by people who already know my business? Or am I optimising for new clients?
The second is the most important reason to optimise your web pages. People who already know your company, also know how and where to find you offline and online. It is much more important to optimize your pages for people who are searching for a service or product to solve their problems. The search queries of those potential visitors probably won’t contain your company name, because they don’t know you yet. Their search phrase will consist of words that are related to their need or problem.
So, a rule of thumb should be; start your title tags with the most important keywords related to the page content and end with your company name.
There can be one exception: your homepage. Depending on your business you could decide to start the title tag of the home page with your company name. All other pages are more related to a certain topic, product, or service. The title tags of these pages should start with an attractive trigger to click, containing the most important keywords, preferably within the first 35 characters.
Tip #6: Title tags should be unique
Each page on your website has its own topic. Therefore, you should determine the most important keywords per page. As each page discusses different topics or at least has different content, the most important keywords should also be unique for each page.
This isn’t only important for SEO, but also for the SERP. Imagine—you are using a search engine and it shows 10 results, all with the same title. Which one are you going to choose? A title tag should represent or cover the page content and each page should have its own unique title tag. Even when your website has 1000 pages, there should be 1000 unique title tags.
Tip #7: Don’t forget to translate your title tags on a multilingual website
When you are offering your website in multiple languages, don’t forget to implement the title tags in the correct language. You will be amazed how often people forget this. Website owners add a new page, duplicate it to a second language and only translate the visible page content.
This could lead to the following example: you are offering a page with German content, containing an English title tag. If so, search engines won’t be informed about the most important keywords via the title tag. Potential visitors searching in German, will also see an English title tag in the search results. As they probably want to see German content, chances are they’re not inclined to click. So, always check the translation of all the page elements before you publish a page.
So, what are you waiting for?
The title is very important for SEO and for your click through rate. Here are some rules of thumb when writing a winning title tag:
- Create title tags that trigger to click.
- The title tag should contain the most strategic keywords and should preferably end with your organisation’s name.
- The title tag contains around 55 characters, including spaces and punctuation.
- Avoid CAPS.
- The most strategic keywords should be mentioned in the first 35 characters.
- Every page of the website has its own unique title tag.
- The title tag should be written in the same language as the page content.
Bonus tip: The title tag is suitable for serving as description of the text that shows up at the favourites in a browser. When people save your page to their favourites, your page title will be used as the title of the favourite too. A descriptive title tag will help.
Start writing your winning title tags today
With these tips, you’re ready to write your own winning title tags for sure! The next step is to apply them to your website. I mentioned it before, the title tag is part of the HTML code of your website. Any decent Content Management System (CMS) will offer you a way to add or edit your title tags. If you can’t do it on your own, your web developer can edit them for you.