Perfect Page Titles: 4 Reasons Title Tags Power-Up Your SEO

Writ­ing com­pelling page titles will improve your organ­ic search vis­i­bil­i­ty, bring you more traf­fic, and help you gain a com­pet­i­tive edge.

Danny Goodwin By Danny Goodwin from Momentology. Join the discussion » 1 comment

The title tag is a crit­i­cal ele­ment that can seri­ous­ly boost your SEO per­for­mance. A decep­tive­ly sim­ple piece of code, title tags pack a pow­er­ful punch when it comes to both the search engines and your users. Title tags help search engines under­stand what the con­tent on your page is about in order to serve up the best results for a searcher’s query – and help peo­ple decide whether to click on your result. Your page title must be the best, or your com­pe­ti­tion will steal those clicks.

Even though search algo­rithms are get­ting smarter every­day, the search engines still need a tremen­dous amount of help from web­site own­ers to under­stand your page. Here are four rea­sons to start writ­ing bet­ter page titles today.

1. Title Tags Help Your Pages to Show Up in the Search Results

A title tag is housed in the head sec­tion of code on a web page, which hosts your meta infor­ma­tion (title tag plus descrip­tion tag). This is impor­tant because it’s one of the first bits of code a bot crawls on the page, and offers the first bits of infor­ma­tion on what the page is about. Search engines like Google then use this infor­ma­tion to help deter­mine if that page is a good fit for a searcher’s query. Of course, there are many oth­er sig­nals Google uses to eval­u­ate a page, but every lit­tle bit you can do will give your site a leg up on your com­pe­ti­tion – and there’s lit­er­al­ly mil­lions of pages you’re com­pet­ing against, depend­ing on the search term.

2. Title Tags Give the First Impression in the Search Results

More than just a piece of code, title tags serve a dual pur­pose: The text in the title tag also serves as your page title in the search results – called the “snip­pet.” That means it’s among the first things searchers see when perus­ing all their options. Here are a few tips for writ­ing per­fect title tags:

  • Cre­ate a clear and con­cise descrip­tion of what a user can expect on the page.
  • Use the impor­tant key­word for that page in the title tag.
  • Make sure the key­word fits nat­u­ral­ly (and nev­er use key­words just for the sake of using key­words – that won’t get you any­where except caught in a search engine’s spam fil­ter).

Be sure to fol­low the lat­est infor­ma­tion about max char­ac­ter count in your title tags, too. When Google redesigned its SERP in 2014, it increased the title area in its snip­pets from 16px to 18px, which meant few­er char­ac­ters to work with in a title tag before the titles in the snip­pets might be cut off. Research from Moz shows 55 char­ac­ters for title tags as the poten­tial sweet spot: Title tag length

3. Title Tags Can Impact Your Click-Through Rate

You have about 1 sec­ond to grab the atten­tion of peo­ple scan­ning the search results. Searchers will click on a com­peti­tor’s result if your title tag isn’t com­pelling or they think it does­n’t answer a ques­tion or address their need. Think about what type of page you’re writ­ing a title tag for, the pur­pose of that page, and the intent of the per­son who you want to click on it. The right bal­ance of infor­ma­tion, key­word, and char­ac­ter count remains as crit­i­cal as ever. For exam­ple, a prod­uct page should have the most impor­tant infor­ma­tion about the prod­uct in the title tag, like brand, mod­el, etc., where­as a blog post’s title tag should be a descrip­tive yet entic­ing (so con­sid­er apply­ing your cre­ative tal­ents there). Keep in mind that you can do your best to cre­ate a per­fect page title, and the search engine may not always dis­play it (that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still use that infor­ma­tion for rank­ing, how­ev­er). Instead, search engines may cre­ate a title for your snip­pet they feel is the most rel­e­vant to a searcher, like Google says it does from time to time:

Some­times even pages with well-for­mu­lat­ed, con­cise, descrip­tive titles will end up with dif­fer­ent titles in our search results to bet­ter indi­cate their rel­e­vance to the query. There’s a sim­ple rea­son for this: the title tag as spec­i­fied by a web­mas­ter is lim­it­ed to being sta­t­ic, fixed regard­less of the query. Once we know the user’s query, we can often find alter­na­tive text from a page that bet­ter explains why that result is rel­e­vant. Using this alter­na­tive text as a title helps the user, and it also can help your site. Users are scan­ning for their query terms or oth­er signs of rel­e­vance in the results, and a title that is tai­lored for the query can increase the chances that they will click through.

4. Title Tags Help You Avoid Duplicate Content Issues

Since the title tag is one of the first things a search engine encoun­ters on the page, if you have the same or very sim­i­lar (i.e., they start out the same way) title tags on each page, you could fall into the dupli­cate con­tent trap. This hap­pens when the search engine deter­mines the pages are the same. What hap­pens next is that the search engine will try to choose the best choice out of all those pages to serve in the search results, and ignore the rest. The prob­lem is, it may not always be the page you would have cho­sen. Because you have con­trol over this tag, it’s impor­tant to make sure this does­n’t hap­pen. With so many com­pet­ing pages – don’t hurt your own chances of more vis­i­bil­i­ty in the search results by neglect­ing writ­ing unique titles for every page.

Danny Goodwin

Written by Danny Goodwin

Managing Editor, Momentology

Danny Goodwin is the former Managing Editor of Momentology. Previously, he was the editor of Search Engine Watch, where he was in charge of editing, content strategy, and writing about search industry news.

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