SEO Page Title. Character Limit, Tips, Best Practices

SEO Page Title Tag

Last Updated on 2 November 2020 by Lukasz Zelezny

SEO title tag optimization is one of the commonly overlooked aspects of SEO. It is often presumed that optimizing title tags for SEO is simple, you just have to add your keyword in the title, and you are good to go. Well, to your disappointment this is neither wrong nor right. It is possible only when everything else in your SEO strategy is perfect. If not, there is so much you can do to optimize your SEO title tags.

But why writing the best page title for SEO is essential. It is important because:

  • SEO page titles are used by search engines to determine the topic of the page.
  • SEO page titles are the first thing that the user sees.
  • SEO titles also determine if a visitor will or will not click to visit your website

So, whether you want to improve the ranking of your website on search engines or increase the impact of a content marketing strategy, optimizing title tags is an essential and important step. If you can just learn all the little ways by which you can optimize them, you will have the potential to see significant growth in your website’s organic search results.

That is what this article is all about. This article will talk about what’s an SEO title and how you can write a good SEO title. This article will guide you through all the necessary steps and provide you with many tips and invaluable information.

What is an SEO title?

The SEO title is also known as a page title, title tag, website title, or HTML title. As the name suggests, an SEO title is an element of your web pages HTML code which indicates its title. The HTML title of your webpage is clickable and appears in the search engine page results to let people what the page content is all about.

To set a title tag, just use the <title> code in the HTML around the text. The HTML title code looks like this:

<head>
<title>Example of a Title Tag</title>
</head>

Now you will ask how to add SEO title in WordPress and other CMS. If you are using a CMS (content management system) like WordPress, they already have a pre-defined settings option to automatically set the title tags by just filling the title tag form. You can also use plugins available to add WordPress SEO title and description like Yoast SEO and All in One SEO Pack.

Where do SEO title tags appear?

The page title tags appear in many places apart from your website of which you should be aware. If you want to attract visitors and turn them into your clients, you need a title that works everywhere it appears. Generally, the title tags appear in four places:

  1. Web Browser Tabs – The SEO title tag can be seen on your web browser tab when you open a page or website. When you open a website for the first time, you will see a homepage SEO title in your browser tab.

These tags are extremely helpful especially when the user has many tabs open in the browser and would like to go back to your page. These tags make it easy for the user to find your page among the herd so it is important that your title tags are unique, recognizable, and can be immediately differentiated from other tabs.

  1. Browser Bookmarks – Bookmarks bar on various browsers such as Chrome, Edge, Safari, etc. shows the homepage SEO title of the website by default. However, you will notice that if you have many websites on your bookmarks bar, the titles are usually truncated, so it is essential to use short and descriptive titles.
  2. Social Media Platforms – If you are an active social media user, you must have seen those little previews of links on Facebook and Twitter when someone shares content. Your page title tags will show up in these previews as well which lets people know what this page is about and what they can expect after clicking on that link.

Some social media networks even allow you to customize your title tags just before sharing the content on their platform. An interesting title will help to attract more visitors.

  1. Search Engine Results Pages – The title tags of your page are the clickable links that appear on the search engine results page.

That is why the title tag is important because it helps a potential visitor in deciding whether he should visit your site or not.  As the title appears outside of your website, visitors judge your website based on it even before they visit it. If your title is not attractive, people will go through the search results list and you will lose the traffic to your competitors.

So, learning how to write better SEO titles than your competitors is important and necessary to gain the clicks of your visitors.

Why Title Tags are important for SEO?

You will find many blogs online that will tell you that tags became obsolete in 2018. This is misleading information. Title tags may not play the role in SEP as they did a decade ago, but there are still many reasons to you this high impact SEO strategy.

Here the few benefits of optimizing your SEO title tags:

  1. Keyword Rankings – It is often asked that whether it is necessary to place your target keyword in the title tag to rank well on Search Engines like Google. Well, the answer is Yes, it is necessary. It may not be as important as it was earlier, but it does make a significant difference.
Let's work together!  Fill SEO Pre-Assessment form now and we will get back to you.

According to findings by Ahrefs, there is a slight correlation between the usage of keywords in the title tag and its ranking in the SERPs. Also, according to a study by Mathew Barby, it was found that the presence of keywords in the title tag correlates to higher rankings.

If you want to take our advice, continue placing target keywords in the title tag. This small factor over time will result in a higher ranking.

  1. Social Media Sharing – Page’s title is a focal point when the content is being shared on social media. These days, you will see many clickbait titles on social media. Some people find these titles annoying and some do not. It is a never-ending debate that whether you should use clickbait title or not.

Truth be told, clickbait titles work as long as the content you are offering is unique and relevant.

  1. Headlines Matter – The SEO title is nothing more than a headline. Only 2 out of 10 people will read the whole content. Therefore, the title tag is the first touchpoint for the readers, so if your headline is not good enough your engagement will be low.

How Google uses the title tags to categorize pages

Whenever a user enters any search query in Google and clicks the search button, Google will do the following:

  • It tries to determine WHAT the user is looking for.
  • It then finds the relevant webpages in their database related to the search query.
  • Then Google ranks the webpages as per its algorithm and removes duplicates.
  • Finally, it shows the results to the user.

The most amazing thing is that all this happens in a fraction of milliseconds. Mind-Blowing, Isn’t it?

In the second step, Google uses the well-crafted title to assume what the page is about. For example: if the title of your page is “Picture of Music Instruments”, Google will assume that the page is full of pictures of different types of musical instruments.

So, if someone is searching for “pictures of animal”, google will not include your page in the second step.

Hence, it is very important to have your keyword in the title. The title of your page makes it easy for both Google and the user to identify what your page is about. Google looks at SEO title and description to categorize what the page is about and which of its user should see it.

To keep the title optimized for search engine, take the following actions:

  • Make sure to add your most targeted keyword to the title tag.
  • Your title should be easy to read and at the same, it should be click friendly.
  • Do not use many keywords in the title tag. Use on one or two keywords at most is enough in your title tag.

Google also takes into consideration how the users are interacting with the search results presented to them. If nobody Is clicking on the link to your web page, Google will see that a signal that your web page does not belong to this category and users are not looking for the information presented on this page. This signal goes into their ranking algorithm and will negatively affect your ranking.

Does Google Rewrite your Title Tags?

Often it will happen that your title and the title displayed by google will not match. We understand this can be a bit annoying, but you cannot argue with Google on what to display on their search engine. Although, there are certain reasons because of which this happens and you can avoid making the same errors in the future.

  1. Too Many Keywords – If your title tag is stuffed with keywords, then Google will simply rewrite your title. Try to use only one keyword and that too naturally in the title tag so that it will be understandable and useful for the users.
  2. The title does not match the search query – If you are page is showing in the search results for a particular search query that is not well represented in your title, Google will rewrite your display title. This does not mean your title is bad because it is impossible to have a matching title for every imaginable search. But, if your title is being overwritten for more desirable and high-volume searches, then consider rewriting it yourself to better match those keywords and search intent.
  3. Alternate title – Sometimes Google displays alternate meta tags that were written for Facebook or Twitter. If you don’t want Google to use those titles then you should consider rewriting it yourself.
  4. DMOZ Listing – In some cases, search engines pull title tags from DMOZ, also known as Open Directory Project. If the title displayed by Google does not match your title tag but it does match with your DMOZ listing, then you can block that replacement with the Robots NOODP tag which looks like this:

<meta name=”robots” content=”noodp”>

We understand it is a bit technical topic, but if you see any unexplained display title in SERPs, then do a quick search on DMOZ for your website. It will save you valuable time.

So, to answer the question, if according to Google’s algorithm your title is not relevant, readable, or provides value to the visitors, then ‘Yes’ Google can and will completely rewrite the title tags whether you like it or not.

Here what Gary Illyes- Webmaster Trends Analyst for Google, has to say about it:

“We will never quit rewriting titles. We’ve seen so many sites whose title really suck. A lot of sites have no title; a lot of sites have a title saying, “Top Page”. In fact, Google almost always rewrites titles. We couldn’t provide useful results to our users if we quit rewriting titles. Experiments showed us users preferred written titles. So, we’ll continue to write titles.” – Gary Illyes (Source)

If you will go by Gary’s words, Google’s algorithm will keep on rewriting your title tags and is not planning on stopping anytime soon. If you want to prevent that from happening, make sure your title tag and page contents match 100 percent.

Let's work together!  Fill SEO Pre-Assessment form now and we will get back to you.

How to Create a click-friendly title

Marketers and Website owners generally ask, what is a good SEO title?

As of now, we know that title is the first thing that the users will see while searching for information on the web. So, a click-friendly title should have two qualities:

  1. Grab the user’s attention.
  2. Provide them with relevant information.

The first step is the most important and most tricky as it involves a lot of creativity and at the same time the title should have optimal length. Let us see what should be the optimal length of the title tag.

What is the Optimal SEO Title length?

Well, technically, the perfect SEO page title character limit is not specified anywhere.  But search engines can display only limited characters of your title. If the SEO title is wider than the viewable limit than Google will cut it short with an ellipsis (…), which could prevent the visitors from seeing the important information about your page.

According to Moz’s research, Google generally displays the first 50-60 characters of title tags including spaces. To be more precise, the accurate limit would be 600px. This is because of a few characters like M, W, etc. takes up more space than others.

Keeping the characters under 60 is optimal SEO title length. There are various tools available online which you can use to preview your title tag, like this one.

If you are using WordPress, various plugins are available at your disposal like Yoast SEO and All In One SEO Pack.

One tool which we use and recommend is Screaming Frog. You can use this tool to find out whether your title tag is too long or not. Just follow these steps:

  1. Open Screaming Frog and enter your target domain.
  2. Click on the Page Title tab and then select Over 65 characters from the filter.
  3. Click “SERP Snippet” at the bottom.
  4. Now you can click on each individual link to preview what the title looks like in the SERPs.

Ways to optimize SEO title tags

“What is a good SEO title?”

To be honest, there is no single answer to this question. A good SEO title depends on various factors such as its keywords, its length, and how accurate it is with the content of the page. In this section, we will share a few tips on how to write a good SEO title. Below are few SEO page title tips:

  1. Focus on Content – As it is said “content is King”. The first and foremost thing you have to do is to focus on the quality of your content. It does not matter how perfect your SEO title tag is if the page has low-quality content.

Getting the click should not be the sole objective but getting visitors to stay longer on the website and exploring more pages should be the goal. And that is possible only if the content you are crafting is unique, relevant and provides information to the visitor.

  1. Adding Company and Brand Names – For quite some time, leaving the Company and Brand names from the title tags has become the new trend. It makes you wonder whether it is appropriate to add the name of your company in the title of the page.

Well, it depends on how the company or brand name is used. The idea behind not using the brand name anymore was that the “density” of the title matters and adding Company name would not help with that. Also, if you have repeating titles with your company name, it can hurt your credibility and CTR. And at the same time, using your brand name several times might leave a mark of your brand on visitors and they might click it when they see you again in their search results.

For home pages, you can include your Company and Brand name in the beginning. For the product and services pages, your SEO product titles should match the page content. Hence, for the product and services page add the company name in the end.

  1. Including Primary Keyword – While crafting a title, you should keep in mind that your title must satisfy the search intent behind that keyword phrase. It makes sense to include the keyword phrase in the title.

But keep in mind that including the keyword does not mean that your tittle must begin or stuffed with keyword phrases.

Google’s algorithms have become much more sophisticated than before and Google’s Hummingbird Algorithm is designed specifically to better understand the presence of keywords in the content.

This means it can understand and identify the use of synonyms and variations of your keywords in the page content. So, you don’t need to stuff your title with keyword variations. Instead, you can place the keyword variations naturally through your content and include the only primary keyword in the title tag. By doing this, your page will still perform well.

  1. Use Shorter Titles – As mentioned earlier, the optimal length of the title tag is 60 characters or 600px (including spaces).

If you are struggling to keep your title tag below 60 characters or 600px, here are few tips for you to try:

  • Avoid using punctuation
  • Remove repetitive words or keyword variations
  • Avoid using all-caps in your title as capital letters take up more space than lowercase letters.
  • Use a short phrase instead of long and complicated ones.
  1. Avoiding Duplicate Page Titles – On your website, no two pages should have the same SEO title tag. There are many tools available online that can help you to find the duplicate page titles. We prefer to use the Screaming Frog SEO spider. If you are using Screaming From then follow the below stems to find duplicates:
  • Open Screaming Frog SEO Spider and enter the target domain name.
  • Click on the “Page titles” tab.
  • Then click on “Filter”, you will get a dropdown list.
  • Select “Duplicate” from the dropdown list.
Let's work together!  Fill SEO Pre-Assessment form now and we will get back to you.

You will get a list of all the pages that have duplicate title tags.

  1. Write Title Tags for Every PageAccording to Google, “Titles are critical to giving users a quick insight into the content of a result and why it’s relevant to their query. It’s often the primary piece of information used to decide which result to click on, so it’s important to use high-quality titles on your web pages.”

Therefore, it is important that every page on your website have a unique SEO title. To find the pages with the missing title, you can once again use the Screaming Frog SEO spider.

All the steps are the same as above except you will have to select “Missing” from the dropdown list instead of “Duplicate”.

  1. Word Choices for Better CTR – Including words from W & H family in your title is a great strategy to attract visitors to click on your link. Using words like How, What, Why, When, Where, or Who helps the visitor to get an idea of what information they can expect to get after clicking on your link.

Few other words that catch the eyes of a visitor include adjectives like Best, Ultimate, Comparison, Increase, Get, etc.

  1. Freshness – It should not come as a surprise that nobody prefers old content. Everybody loves new things and the same goes here as well.

Your title tags should emphasize freshness. You can incorporate words like new, updated, Year, new data, etc.

For example, for queries like “Top MBA college in 2019” demand fresh results. No single user is going to click on the search result from the year 2010. So, it is good to include dates and years to your title tags to communicate freshness.

  1. Use Symbols – Symbols such as , {curly brackets}, (parentheses), equal signs (=), plus (+) or minus (-) signs, or any other symbol can help break up your title and improve its readability as well as click-through rate.
  2. Test your Title–To check the effectiveness of your title tag, you can use AM Institute’s tool. This tool provides you with an EMV score which stands for emotional marketing value. With help of this, you can understand how effective your title is in connecting with visitors at emotional and intellectual levels.
  3. Incorporate All Methods – There is no restriction on which and how many techniques you incorporate to optimize your title tag. You can mix and match the methods to get the best results possible.
  4. Measure Performance – You can measure how well your title tags are performing with Google Search Console. It shows you click-through data (CTR) for your organic keywords. Just login to Google Search Console and click on the “Performance” tab you will be able to access all kinds of useful data.

Although apart from title tags there are other factors also that influence your CTR, it is still one of the most important factors. If your website is ranking well but your CTR is low, then you should try changing your title and monitor the performance.

Final notes about how to write SEO title

In this article, we have mentioned in detail why the title tag is the most important element of your page. But there is one other element that goes hand in hand with the title tag is Meta Description. The meta description is a text which is composed of 2-3 sentences and is displayed under the title tag in the search engine result pages.

The role of this little description is to explain briefly but more thoroughly than title what your page is about. It is extremely important to include your keywords in this text as well. Perfect SEO title and meta description together will encourage users to click on the link.

More on Meta Description in the next article.

Final Summary

SEO title tags are not as complicated as it seems, they just take a bit of time, effort, and practice to get right. Still, title tags will never be 100 percent perfect. It is impossible to understand what is going behind Google’s algorithm. Therefore, you should just aim to continually improve and test them.

Apart from title tags, there are plenty of little ways to improve the SEO of your site that can improve your visibility. Title tags, meta descriptions, URLs, and many other factors contribute to improving your SEO and click-through rate.

To summarize, to rank higher for your keywords, you have to add them to your title tags. Google does not want to go through thousands of words on your website to analyze what your website is about. It will look straight to your title and will get an idea of what the content of your website is all about.

If you need help in writing the title tags for your website, contact us to get started.

 How to Make Your SEO Title Tags Work – Quick Summary

  1. Keep titles tags about 60 characters long
  2. Use only primary keywords in titles.
  3. Describe your page content in the best possible way.
  4. Use words like HOW, WHY, WHAT, and WHERE to help people understand what they will find on the page.
  5. Use words like BEST, REVIEW, and ULTIMATE to entice users to click.
  6. Write unique titles for every page and no duplicate title tags.
  7. Use your company name or brand name wisely.
  8. Keep it simple.