What is a Title Tag? (And Why Should You Care About Them?)
Without meta title tags, search engines wouldn’t know what to do, which is why they’re so critical to your site getting found.
A title tag is used to tell search engines what your webpage is about concisely and accurately. The title tag will appear in several locations around the web. It will be shown in the tab bar within your browser.
It will also be used as an anchor text when shared on another website or social media platform.
But most importantly, the title tag will be shown as the blue link within search engine results.
Title tags are extremely important for two main reasons.
- They have a high impact on the ranking of your website.
- They play a large role in the click-through rate of your website.
How Can You Write a Great Title Tag?
Creating great title tags is nothing to stress out over as they can easily be accomplished just by following a simple formula:
“Primary Keyword” “Secondary/Supporting Keyword” | “Brand Name”
The title tag should include all of the keywords that you are wanting to rank for with the most important keyword first, the second most important keyword next, then finished off with your brand name for the best SEO.
Search engines scan title tags for keywords that match what the user is searching for. The better that a title tag matches the phrase that is being searched, the better chance that the site will be matched with the user and seen on the top of the search results.
It is important to note that title tags should be written for humans. They should flow well and read like a sentence so people will be able to understand what the website is about.
This is an important point as this will greatly affect the click-through rate of your website. If people can easily read it and know what the website is about, they will travel to your site if you have what they are looking for.
Included here is an excellent meta title tag checklist written by an SEO expert, Kristine Schachinger, that will help you to create excellent title tags every time:
Title Tag Checklist by Kristine Schachinger
- Length: Title tags should be a maximum of 50-60 characters long, including spaces.
- Keyword Placement: Your most important words (keywords) need to be first in your title tag, with your least important words being last in the title tag (most to least).
- Keyword Separation: Use pipes | to separate important (keyword) phrases (no commas, underscores, dashes, or any other punctuation unless the keyword is written that way).
- Wording: Keep your important phrases short and simple. Leave out words that would make it read like a sentence. (e.g., and, if, but, then, etc.)
- Company Name: If your company name is not part of the important (keyword) phrases, put it at the end of the title tag; if it is part of your important words, put it as the first words in the title tag. Some SEOs will tell you to leave it out. You can leave it in for branding purposes – so people will see the brand and click. This may not be valid for all sites.
- DON’T DUPLICATE Title Tags: They must be written differently for every page. Don’t mass replicate your title tags.
- Make It Relevant: Title tags must be written to be descriptive of the content on the page.
What Is a Good and Bad Example of Title Tags?
Let’s start by looking at a good title tag. We can use an example search term of “best seafood near me”.
Tripadvisor does a fantastic job at checking off all of the boxes from the title tag checklist. This link is the top organic search result on the Google search engine results page because of the outstanding use of meta title tags.
First things first, the title tag is under 60 characters- check. Next, the primary keyword phrase “Best Seafood Restaurants” is seen followed by the secondary keyword “near me” shown with the current location of Phoenix. The brand name is clearly distinguished from the keywords. This title tag is optimized for search engines and also reads as a fluent sentence to users.
Now, let’s take a look at a... not-so-good... example of a title tag.
It's clear Slapfish is attempting to rank for searches related to “best seafood restaurant.” And as you can see, it just isn’t quite optimized properly.
This page is on page 4 of the Google search engine results page. Do you wonder why? The title tag breaks quite a few SEO rules, but they can be easily fixed.
The first obvious mistake is that the title tag is well over the 60 character limit. Which is also the reason it gets cut off.
The next major mistake is the layout of the title tag. The title tag has the right idea but is using the formula backward. The two keywords should come before the brand name.
Let’s try and fix the Slapfish restaurant title tag to help them to rank better on search engines.
First, we need to shrink down the title tag to below 60 characters. We could condense the brand name down to just “Slapfish” and drop “restaurant” from the name as this will shave off some of the character counts and will not greatly affect the SEO of the website.
We should also move the keywords to the front of the title to better optimize for search engines. The first keyword “best seafood restaurant” is a very strong keyword that should be positioned first.
Next, we should find a better keyword other than “American seafood restaurant” as this is not a term people are searching for to find Slapfish. We will instead change the keyword to “Phoenix, AZ” for this example as this keyword will help drive local traffic to the website and will increase search volume.
We will finalize the new example meta title tag to “Best Seafood Restaurant In Phoenix, AZ | Slapfish” to make it look a bit like this.
This meta title tag now checks off every box from the checklist. It’s under 60 characters, includes a primary keyword, secondary keyword, and is followed by the brand name. Making it relevant and useful to those users trying to locate some seriously good seafood.
When creating meta title tags, it is important to keep SEO in mind as title tags play a large role in search engine ranking. The tips discussed will help your website to stand out from the competition and rank you higher on search engines.
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