Titles are one of the crucial aspects of on-page SEO that determines your ranking. In this post, I will be showing you how to write title for SEO and before I delve into that, let us explore a little more about title tags.
What is a Title tag?
A title tag gives the title of a page to the user and search engines. Technically, it is an html tag which is usually found inside the head tag of a page. The title tag comes under the category of Meta tags (Meta tags simply give information about a web page, like description, keywords etc).
For instance, let us consider the example of Technofare.com. You can see that the title of the page appears on the browser’s title-bar.
Now, when I search for “technofare” on Google, I see my website in the results wherein the information in title tag is displayed on top of the snippet.
Moreover, social networking sites like Facebook and Google plus use these titles for displaying information about the webpages that you share.
How can you write the best title tag for SEO?
As with any other practice in SEO, it is hard to say which one works best. That said, we know the ones that are recognized to be working well. I shall explain some strategies that really work. For the most part, I will be considering a dynamic approach that aims better results.
6 simple ways to optimize your SEO titles
length of your title
Writing Titles for your home page
The optimum length of your title should be 55-63 characters.It is worth noting that this length is inclusive of spaces and other symbols used in the title. But I have another strategy that may be worth trying. I have said initially that I will be following a dynamic approach.
Hence my approach is to write titles according to the page.
For instance, the title for your home page can be strictly restricted to a maximum of 63 characters. More on that later. When you have a descriptive page, like a blog post or an “about” page, your title can go up to 80 or 90 characters. Why? It is because many SEOs (including me) believe that even when the search engines won’t display your title in full, it may take in account the various keywords that you have used in the title tag. Consequently, the more the length, the more keywords you can use.
However, make sure that your title does not exceed 100 characters at most.
Why this strategy works?
Let’s take the example of Searchenginewatch. When I search for “seo news” on Google, this is the second result that I come across.
This was the title tag for searchenginewatch.com :
When I analyzed the title, it was 101 characters long! Thus this strategy simply works. Let us consider another example wherein I have searched for “free job alert”.
This was the title tag of the first site in the SERP:
And this title is 115 characters long. Hence from these two examples, it is quite clear that this strategy works and might help you rank better.
How much of the title is displayed in the results?
Google makes use of CSS to trim titles, You will see “….…” for titles exceeding the limit. According to moz.com, the portion that gets displayed may be 512 pixel wide in terms of 18px Arial font. For most of the time, the number of characters shown varies from 55 to 63 according to the browser, platform and so on.
It is a different aspect when it comes to writing titles for your homepage. In most of the cases, your homepage is the door to your website. Hence it is really important to write a unique title for your website’s homepage.
Here’s how you can do it:
- Strictly abide to a limit of 55 – 63 characters.
- Using two keywords is an apt strategy. Think about the context of your website. If you are running a business, use those two keywords that others use to describe your business.
- Here are two ways of writing your homepage title. Either use “Keywords | Brand Name” format or “Brand Name | Keywords”. It is up to you in choosing which one to use. I would suggest you go with the second one. User’s first priority is to click on information desired, provide that followed by your brand name. Using brand name in title tag is an opportunity for impressions and recall. This is the reason that this strategy is being suggested for home page.
- Once you have used the two keywords make sure to use a (separator) pipe symbol ‘|’ or a dash ‘-‘ to separate keywords from your brand name. Also use “pipe” as a keyword separator.
There is no SEO advantage in using hyphen or pipe, it depends upon individual’s preferences. My vote for pipe as it looks cool and a natural separator.
For instance, consider the example of Microsoft. Their title is “Microsoft US | Devices and Services”. Similarly, Acer has the title – “Acer | explore beyond limits”, Titile of moz.com – “MOZ: Inbound Marketing and SEO Software, Made Easy. Just see how short and sweet it is.
These kinds of titles work fine for big brands where brand name and caption are a matter of concern. On the other hand, if you are dealing with websites of small and medium enterprises that have a lot of textual information, you can go with descriptive titles like that of searchenginewatch.com as discussed in the first tip above.
Title tags are for User’s
Just like search engines, title tags are equally important for viewers. Although there is only a meagre chance for people noticing the title at the title-bar of their browser, they will obviously notice it when your page is shared on a social media site like Facebook, Google plus , organic search results etc.
Hence it is a good etiquette to provide a descriptive title for the different pages of your website. There is no harm in using stop words in titles if it makes the topic more interesting (though some say it is lame). Well it is better to have a natural title than something that looks awkward.
Using keywords in your titles
This is something that is quite often debated. I often hear people asking me the apt number of keywords to be used in title tag. Here’s the thing. Using two keywords is the best option. When the number of keywords in title increases, the overall value of each keyword starts decreasing.
There are some SEOs who try to put in a lot of keywords in the title. Well, this does not work. My strategy is , instead of diluting it into too many keywords, focus on two important keywords so that these two words gain more value.
Never repeat titles
The worst thing that could possibly happen with your titles is to not have one. The second is, to repeat the same title over many pages. If you have some time, maybe you can analyze your site titles for a while to find out the ones that are repeating often. You can either change them completely or replace them with similar keywords. Anyhow, sticking your brand name along with the title is a good idea.
Titles are supposed to be unique for each page, they describe the page content for the user. Conceptually, they are no different than title of your different chapters of your favorite novel or book. When you go to a book store and scan through a book, what are the top things and examine the order – Title, Author, index, title for various chapters, number of pages and price is the last thing. Authors and publishers have been using title since ages to pull readers to buy their book.
Title tags vs. headings
This is particularly for those who use content management systems like WordPress. Usually these systems use the heading (or post title) as the title tag. Well, it is good to have this feature. But my strategy would be to slightly modify the title tags. Maybe you can replace one keyword with a similar word.
This way you have chances of getting indexed for different kind of words. Anyhow this is up to you. In any case – Title of your post is going as H1 tag, why not attempt your next keyword in the title tag, It’s a ranking opportunity.
Now we know how to write title for SEO, let’s take a look at what are the things that you need to keep off. I see many people following these practices, which may be counter-productive in the long run.
Things to avoid in SEO title writing
Some SEO plugins of content management systems like WordPress work like a charm. But be sure to take a test run when you update them. Certain plugins conflict with the theme or other elements. Once I ran into an issue wherein the Title tag was incomplete for almost all the pages. If left unchanged, your rankings may drop seriously. So before you update or install any plugin, go visit its official page and see what are the changes in the new version and the comments of other users regarding the update. If the update is attributing to security reasons or bug-fixes I would recommend doing it soon, else wait for some reviews of the same to pop-up.
The prime goal of writing title for a page is describe it shortly, i.e. to tell people what the page is all about. If your title describes something that is not available in that page, not only that some users will find it dreadful but the search engines may penalize you as well. So the rule of thumb is – describe what is there in the page and no off-topic in title. If you have been using this strategy to convince search engines, it’s time to rethink. You may be ranking well today, but in future there are chances of getting penalized.
I’ve said this already but I would like to stress over it again. An alternative to using too many keywords is to use a variety of them. Google will easily understand your keyword, if you can use it at the beginning of the title. Always make sure you don’t repeat your keyword more than once in your title.
I have seen many websites using different separators like hyphens, commas and so on for different pages. The best looking separator is pipe ‘|’. Be consistent, different separators may seem suspicious.
A Final thought on Titles and CTR (Click Through Rate)
Sometimes, the looks of the title also matters.By looks, I mean the way you write titles. For instance, if you can capitalize first alphabet of each word of the title, it looks good and may draw more visitors into the page. Consider the following four examples.
- “6 Best Practices of Using Title Tags for SEO | Technofare”
- “Best practices of using title tags for seo – Technofare”
- “BEST PRACTICES OF USING TITLE TAGS FOR SEO– TECHNOFARE”
- “using title tags – Technofare”
By the above example, I wish to highlight that don’t worry about precise use of words – like in this article – I would like to rank for ‘how to write title tags for seo” but I have used the first choice mentioned above as the title. For Google – using and writing is same semantics, with reference to title tags.
Among the above titles, the first one feels more clickable and assuring. Thus titles of this sort can generate more CTR. However the fourth title in the example is almost lame showing the least information. It is a good etiquette to capitalizingthe first alphabet of each word of the title, but it may take time if not automated. I would also not suggest to completely capitalize the title since it looks loud and gives a feeling of shout.
My last favorite example of a good title
“7 Habits of Highly Effective People |Stephen Covey”
Let’s explore some of the alternative titles for the same book…
- Good Habits of Effective People
- Must Follow Golden Habits to be Effective
- Golden Habits for Personal Effectiveness
- Secrets for Personal Effectiveness in Life
- Best Habits of Effective People, Shared.
- Habits to Follow to be Successful and Effective.
- Golden Habits to be Highly Effective in Life
I am sure Sir Covey would not accept any of the above alternatives, if he decided to change the title of his book. Can you feel the difference a good title can have to your CTR ( click through rate) and also notice the qualitative difference a number ( 7) brings to the title in the example above.
Bottom line – If your article is about a fixed number of solutions or features, then put that in number at the start of the title, followed by other inputs shared in this post and see the magic it will have on search rankings.
Well, that’s it. There is no rule on how to write title for SEO. You can think of initially designing a strategy and following it further. As far as my experience goes, using a mixed strategy works well. Also, take a word of caution when you are experimenting with titles on your site. :).