Title tags are an important factor for SEO and something so easily changed yet overlooked by many. While updating the title may take a matter of seconds, writing the perfect title may take a little longer.

What is a Title Tag?

Title tags define the title for each page on your website. They tell both the user and search engines what that page is all about so obviously, title tags are an important element to master for Search Engine Optimisation.

In the HTML

Located in the HTML head section, they will typically look something like this:

In the Search Engine Results

When it comes to the user experience, the title tag and meta description are your opportunity to stand out from the millions of other results. When looking at the Google search results, your title tag is what will be displayed as the blue hyperlink text. Note that the words relevant to your search term will always be highlighted in bold so the user can see just how relevant your title is to their search.

The below example is how KDM’s website currently displays when searching for “SEO Brisbane”.

Note: If you don’t enter a page title or Google feels that yours is irrelevant, a new one will be provided for you automatically based on your page content. If this happens you will have a relevant title but chances are it won’t be very engaging!

In the Browser

All major browsers now use tabs to manage multiple pages at once. Your page title also determines what will be displayed as the title for this tab to help the user better determine which page is when should they have multiple open at once.

Below are a couple of examples of how the KDM title displays in Google Chrome and Internet Explorer 9.

Google Chrome Internet Explorer

Formatting Your Title Tag

Your title tags are there to tell both the user and the search engine what each page is about. Since it is the user’s first contact with your site, it is important that you get the title right; keep it positive, powerful and to the point. Make sure your target market knows that your product is for them.

It is so important to remember that both your page title and meta description will likely get no more than a cursory glance as they quickly skim through the results. It is for this reason that you must provide no more than the essential information in your title. A title starting with “The official home page of” is not only a waste of 25 characters but a waste of the most valuable space you have in the Search Engine Results Page!

Your page title should be no longer than 70 characters. Any longer than this and it will be truncated, cutting your title short and replacing the rest with an ellipsis (…).

Option 1 – It is unlikely the user has heard of your brand.

Title Tag Layout 1

Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Brand

Option 2 – Your brand is well known and can be a strong selling point.

Title Tag Layout 2

Brand | Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword

Title Tag Checklist

While the formatting is quite simple, actually writing an effective title can be more difficult than you might think. Here is a quick checklist on how to write the title tag your website deserves:

  • No more than 70 characters – Any more than 70 characters and your title will be truncated and the rest replaced with an ellipse (…)
  • Capitalise Every Word – While this makes no difference to search engines, it does look clean and professional; first impressions last.
  • Never use all caps – Capitalising every letter looks very unprofessional and spammy. Your title should be building trust with the user, not yelling at them!
  • Do not use special characters – Special characters include anything besides a letter or number. The only special characters you should ever be using in a page title are hyphens (-), piping (|) and the ampersand (&). Outside of these three it is highly unlikely they will help the user or search engine in any way so don’t waste those characters!
  • Avoid using “stop words” – “Stop words” are  “a”, “an”, “as”, “be” etc. They will be ignored when your page is indexed and again, they will waste a portion of your character limit
  • Give every page a unique title – Duplicate page titles can hurt your rankings and does not provide any value to the user.
  • Keyword Research – Page titles are about targeting the best term(s) for each page. Make sure you do your research and make sure you are targeting the right keywords!
  • Use exact match phrasing – Search engines will highlight the words in your page title and meta description that were included in the user’s search. Seeing their exact search term highlighted in your page title clearly indicates that you have a page relevant to their interests. For this reason, Google will also see your page as being of greater relevance meaning you will rank higher for that particular term.
    Example: If you are targeting the term “Computer Repairs”, make this term the first two words of your title. It tells both the search engine and the user that your page is more relevant to that search term than “Computer, printer, smartphone and laptop repairs”.
  • Avoid repetition – Repeating keywords provides no greater value to the user or search engine and if anything, it can give the appearance of spam, earning you a lower ranking and less chance of anyone vising your site. If your primary and secondary keywords include the same word, consider combining the two, separating them with an ampersand instead.
    Example: If you were selling both home and office printers, avoid using “Home Printers – Office Printers | Joe’s Warehouse”. Something like “Home & Office Printers – Free Lifetime Warranty | Joe’s Warehouse” instead. The ampersand indicates to the search engine that while the two items are part of a single phrase, they are in fact separate. Using “Home And Office Printers” would indicate that your page is about a Home And Office printer rather than two separate products.
  • Separate Keywords and Branding – Separate search terms and brand name with hyphens and piping; make your title easy to parse at a glance. As you can see from the formatting examples above, titles are much easier to read at a glance when separated into short, clear phrases.
  • Keep Your Title Relevant – Writing titles that are irrelevant to the content found on that page will not serve you well in the search results and only seeks to attract irrelevant users.
  • Mention Your Location (if relevant) – If your computer repair business only services the Greater Brisbane area, there is no point in getting viewers looking for a repair service in Perth. In this instance, adding your target location will ensure you are targeting the right users. With this information and a bit of practice you will be writing strong, optimised title tags in not time!