Why and How to Optimize Page Titles for SEO?

Search engine optimization (SEO) has different dimensions like on-page, off-page and black hat methods. The most important part of SEO starts when you start writing the content. The first thing you need for writing an article is to have a title or topic. We have done various experiments on our articles and find that having an attractive title will increase the traffic up to 50% with the same content on the page. Therefore, it is very important for any website owner to understand the page title and optimize page titles for SEO.

What is Title Tag?

A HTML webpage has different components in the source. You can view the source code of any webpage by right clicking and choosing “View Page Source” option. You will find many tags in the header section of a webpage <Title> is one of the tag inside header section, used to describe the title of a webpage.

Page Title in Page Source
Page Title in Page Source

You should optimize page titles for SEO since both search engines as well as users will understand your content based on the title of a webpage. Since every page of your site may have different content, you need to use unique and relevant title for each page in your website.

Adding Title Tag to Your Webpage

Remember, <TTITLE> tag should be placed inside <HEAD> tag in your webpage’s HTML. Below is an example of inserting title on your HTML content.

Title Tag in HTML Source

The problem with the above method is that user will not see the title inside the content of the published page. Therefore, many content management systems like WordPress make this task easy. It allows to add a page / post title when publishing an article. On a published page, users can see the title on top the webpage while the same title is inserted as <title> tag on the source of the page for search engines to read.

Title in WordPress Editor
Title in WordPress Editor

Search Engines Show Titles in Search Results

Now that you know what is page title and how to insert on your HTML page. Next comes the importance of it. As mentioned, search engines like Google show the page title in the search results. A search result in Google has the following format:

Google Search Results Format
Google Search Results Format

As you can see there are totally four parts in the basic search results:

  • Page Title inside <Title> tag in your webpage.
  • A separator
  • Site Title inside <Title> tag in your Home page.
  • Page URL of your webpage (or breadcrumb structure)
  • Page Description used inside <META> tag of your page, if the description is not sufficient length then the first few lines of the page content will be shown in the search results.

Google also will highlight the searched keywords in each result. Sometimes, you will see a missing word with strike out to indicate the result is missing one of the keywords.

Users Can Also See Page Titles

Besides search engines, users can also see the title on the browser’s title bar. Most of the time users open more than one search results, started checking one page and tend to forget the other opened pages. In such scenarios, the page title shown on the browser’s tab gives quick information to users about the page.

Title Tag Shown in Browser - Firefox
Title Tag Shown in Browser – Firefox

How to Optimize Page Titles for SEO?

The important question is how to optimize page titles to get more traffic. There are many tips to make your title attractive.

1. Use Site Title as Your Brand

It is very important to make sure you have a Page Title as well as Site Title and they are relevant to the content and brand respectively. Since the Site Title is appended on all individual Page Titles it is highly recommend using a brand name or company name as a Site Title. This helps users to remember your brand and also search engines nowadays started showing the company name next to page URL for all subdomains.

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2. Use Attractive Separator

Well, this may looks silly but works when applied properly. By default, you can see a hyphen mark as a separator between page and site title. You can use custom HTML characters like » to show the title in appealing manner.

3. Limit the Length

Ensure to have a page title of 60 – 70 characters length so that it can fit on the search results without truncation. Also test your page URL with any of the search snippet preview tool to ensure the display is fine.

Remember, the length of the page title includes the length of page title, any separator and site title. Therefore, limit your page title length according to your site title length.

4. Use Attractive Titles

When a user finds his search query matches your title there are more chances he will click the search result and check your site content. If you do not have appropriate titles then there is a less chance that the user will click your site even though you have high quality content. The bottomline is to have a title relevant to your page content.

However, Google will show millions of search results for each query. In order to stand out from the crowd, you should have some attractive words in the title. Let’s take an example that you want to purchase a WordPress theme for starting your blog. You are searching Google to get more details on the best blogging theme. Which one of the following title, you will click on the search result?

  • How to buy a blogging theme for WordPress?
  • Top 5 blogging theme for WordPress
  • 10 things to check before you buy a WordPress blogging theme
  • 5 reasons you will fail to buy good WP blogging theme
  • Guide to buying WordPress blog theme
  • 5 free WP blogging themes for beginners

In most cases, users tend to click the titles with numbers. These are called smart lists or listicles that explains the content with a listed points. Though how-to is most common format, try to use the numbers when applicable. If you are struck in finding a good title, then check out our article on how to find attractive post titles for your blog.

5. Use Focus Keywords in Title

Before writing an article, you should first decide the focus keyword and write the entire content revolving around that. This will help you to get targeted traffic for that keywords and improve the page’s value. Ensure to use the focus keywords in the title, meta description and on the first paragraph of the content. This will increase the possibilities of Google picking up your page for the top search results.

6. Unique Title for Each Page

Many website owners use a template to insert page title by simply changing few words. Avoid duplication and ensure to have unique page title for each page in your site.

How to Check Issues in Title Tags?

Well, it is easy to maintain or check the title of each page for a smaller site. But the task will be cumbersome when your site is grown in size having hundreds of pages. In general, many of the PHP based sites use script to generate title that is similar on all pages. This will kill your ranking in Google as it may look spam and less useful for users. Earlier, you had an option in Google Search Console offering free tools to check the titles on bulk like below.

Title Tag Improvements in Google Webmaster Tools
Title Tag Improvements in Google Webmaster Tools

You can see all types of errors in your titles and the number of occurrences with detail. The issues are classifieds under Missing titles, Duplicate titles, Long Titles, Short Titles and Non-Informative Titles. You can check each of the errors and rectify them to improve your site’s search ranking. Unfortunately, the new Search Console does not have any sort of option to check duplicate titles. You may need to use third-party tools to check titles in bulk and find the duplication to remove.

Dos and Don’ts with Page Title

Here is a summary of what you should and shouldn’t when optimizing page titles for SEO.

Make your title effectively connects the user to your page contentGeneric titles like "Untitled" or "New Page"
Use unique and separate title for each and every page of your siteSingle title tag for all or most of the pages
Use your site title different than your page titleStuffing unnecessary keywords
Use short and meaningful titlesVery long titles which can’t be shown in the search result area

Editorial Staff at WebNots are team members who love to build websites and share the learning with webmasters community. Connect with us in Facebook and Twitter.

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