Unlocking the Potential of Title Tags in SEO

What is an SEO Title Tag?

Title Tag is an HTML tag, that is displayed as the clickable heading on the search snippet Google Search Result Page and as a headline in the social sharing snippet and the text on the top text on the browser window (tab). The title Tag is written with the purpose of giving an introduction to the reader of the content on the page.

<Title> Tag HTML

Title Tag is specified using <title> tag within the header tag <head> of the web page, and technically isn’t a meta tag; however, often treated as one. The title of every page on your website should be as unique as possible.

Although, some advanced search engines like Google can now automatically determine the title of a web page by evaluating the content to produce a more relevant title for its search users. However, it still primarily uses the content in the HTML title tag to determine the title tag of a web page for its SERP snippets.

Benefits of Title Tags Optimization

Matches The Intent of Search Query on SERP Snippets

The primary benefit of a Title tag is that search engines display it in the web page’s search result on their SERPs, which helps search users identify what information they can expect on the web page.

And, since it contains the link to the web page, search users can click on it and check the content of the web page. Optimizing your title tag improves its intent for the target search query.

Provide Context for Web Pages Shared on Social Media

When a web page is shared on any social media, they look for the title tag and show it in the page’s social snippet, which helps social media users identify the context.

However, many social media platforms allow users to provide a custom title to show on their social snippets instead of the actual HTML title of the page.

Page Topic Identification in Browser Tabs

Within a browser window, the title tag of a web page appears at the top of its browser tab. It helps users identify the page topic if they have too many browser tabs opened in their browser window.

Improved Click-through Rate (CTR) and Traffic

Title tags have a direct impact on the CTR of a web page. A title tag that is unique, descriptive, concise, and isn’t misleading, will match search users’ intent and appeal to them, resulting in more and more search users clicking on your page, thus, increasing your CTR as well as your website traffic.

Influence on Search Engine Rankings

Although, Title tags cannot increase your search engine rankings directly; however, when search users find your title tag compelling and descriptive, it makes them choose your web page instead of competitors’. It sends a positive signal to search engines, stating that your web page serves the intent of search users much better compared to the other pages.

And, since Search engines find your web page more relevant to search users’ intent, they may influence your page rankings in an attempt to provide better results to their users.

How to Write a Unique and Engaging Page Title?

Write a Descriptive Title

The title of a web page should specify its purpose clearly to search users. Web pages that don’t specify their purpose in their title tags not only risk the chance of getting more qualified traffic but also motivate search engines to rewrite the page title.

For example, the purpose of your website’s home page is to represent your brand or organization, whereas the product page is to specify the details about a product. Think about the search users’ intent and what they are expecting.

Manage the Length of the Title

Although there are no restrictions on the length of title tags; however, lengthy title tags either get truncated or possibly rewritten by search engines simply because the length of the search snippets is fixed. 

The title of a page should be less than 60 characters, including white spaces, or ideally be less than 600 pixels in the case of Google SERPs.

Even if search engines adjust the length of your title tag by truncating the text rather than rewriting it entirely, it still spoils the context of your page for search users, which can demotivate them from clicking on it. It can happen if the keyword in the search query has been omitted from the title tag due to excessive length.

However, longer titles are a good fit for social snippets since some social media platforms can wrap the text in the title tag, which can be pretty descriptive for social media users. So, be alert about whether your web page gets most of its traffic from social media or search engines.

Similarly, a title tag that is too short gives a vague context to search users, which is why Google might rewrite them based on the content on the page.

Use Keywords but Avoid Stuffing and Vagueness

Search Engines like Google demotivates title tags that are overstuffed with keywords since they look like a cheap or manipulated advertisement for the page.

You can use the synonyms and variants of keywords; however, stuffing a keyword even with synonyms and variants can result in a poor experience for search users and impact the number of search visitors.

Similarly, if your page title sounds vague due to non-descriptive standard terms such as “Product Page – Brand Name” or “Home Page – Brand Name”, it would reduce the relevancy and uniqueness of the title tag as well as increase its length. Search Engines rewrite title tags like these.

Long-tail keywords better fit the purpose of specifying the intent of search users in title tags than head keywords which are also more competitive to rank for than their long-tail versions.

Starting your title tag with the selected keyword or mentioning it within the first few words in the title tag makes the keyword more noticeable than mentioning it at the end and also saves you from the trouble of getting the title tag truncated by search engines.

Use Call to Action Words and Avoid Stop Words

Call-to-Action words influence search users to perform a task, such as “Check”, “Buy”, “Get”, “Download”, “Watch”, “Learn”, etc.

Words like these indicate to search users that they can expect a specific result on the page.

Moreover, you may avoid using stop words in your title tag unless removing them affects the context of the title tag, which can help optimize its length. Stop words are typically articles, prepositions, conjunctions, or pronouns necessary for human interactions but don’t change the contextual meaning of queries from search engines’ POV. Search engines might ignore stop words when understanding the search query and generating results.

Use Interrogative or Question Format

For pages that contain answers to a question or have instructional steps like How-to pages or educational guides, it is best to specify the title in an interrogative or question format that triggers curiosity for search users and motivates them to click on the title tag.

Moreover, it relates to search users’ queries, especially if they expect a single and specific answer to the question.

Use Numbers, Dates, and Special Characters

Using numbers and special characters in the title tag grabs the attention of search users and make it specific to the search query while also reducing the length of the title tag and positively influencing the number of people visiting the page. For example, using the Ampersands “&” instead of “and” or using the hyphen “–” or the colon “:” to differentiate the part of the keyword from the brand name in the title tag.

Technically, you can use any special character that satisfies your needs; however, when it comes to separators, using the underscore “_” can confuse search engines since they interpret the underscore as a part of the searched query instead of as a separator. Pipe “|” is another well-recognized separator by Google apart from hyphen “–” and Colon “:”. You should ensure that you don’t excessively use symbols or numbers in your title tag, making it difficult to read for search users.

You can also use dates to make your title tags stand out on SERPs, especially for pages that contain information related to a specific period in time, such as title tags for pages answering historical questions. However, you shouldn’t prefer using dates in the title tag if the information on the page gets periodically updated, making the title tag outdated if not updated timely.

Use Brand Name to Power Your Title Tags

If you are a well-known brand or organization in your niche, such as a news publication, it is best practice to mention your brand name at the end of your title tags. Search Engines can use this information to display at the end of your title even if your title tag gets truncated due to excessive length.

It helps search users immediately identify the source of information based on their trust or understanding of the brand or organization.

A search user looking for your website’s home page is either already familiar with your brand name and what you do or have heard about it somewhere. Mentioning the brand name at the start of the title tag for the home page helps users identify the page quickly.

Look at the above image. Although, in the original title tag specified by Shopify.com, the brand name is at the end of the title tag; however, when rewriting it, Google and Bing both have placed the brand name at the start.

Why is Google rewriting title tags for my pages?

When matching the context of your content with its title tag, Google may decide to rewrite your title tag. Because your current title tag might not be unique and descriptive and fails to match the context of the page.

It can also happen if your title tag has excessive character length, keyword stuffing, non-descriptive standard words or you didn’t specify <title> tag on your page, making the title tag irrelevant for search users.

Google then looks for 07 factors to generate a more useful title for your web pages algorithmically. These facts are as follows:

  1. Text between the <title> and </title> tag on the page
  2. Primary visual title on the page i.e., <h1> tag (Should be the largest and visibly important on the page out of all the other headings. Using more than one h1 tag would confuse Google, and priority would be given to the first one in such cases)
  3. Text in other heading elements, such as <h2> headings
  4. Any other text that’s made decorated using style elements
  5. Content on the page, such as image alt text
  6. Anchor text of the links on the page
  7. Text within inbound links that direct to the page.

Not only Google, but search engines like Bing and Yahoo can also rewrite your title tags if it doesn’t match the context of the page.

Conclusion

Title tag sure is a great way to boost your CTR and influence your rankings; however, optimizing your title tag won’t benefit you much if you’re ranking on the 5th or 6th page of SERPs instead of 1st or 2nd.

Moreover, as the search engines are evolving, the content on your web pages is also a defining factor in whether search engines would rewrite your title tags or not.

It can be a pain optimizing title tags for all your pages, especially if you have hundreds of pages where CMSs like WordPress and Shopify come in handy and lets you define rules to generate title tags for your pages automatically. However, such titles might not necessarily be descriptive and unique and can motivate search engines to rewrite your title tags.

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