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:
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.