Looking to find unique opportunities to improve your website’s SEO? One of the commonly overlooked aspects of SEO is your page titles. If you can learn all of the little ways to optimize them, you have the potential to see significant improvement of your website’s organic search visibility.
Whether you’re looking to improve the SEO of your website, or increase the impact of a content marketing strategy, optimizing page titles is an important step. This article will talk about best writing practices and how your titles can influence rankings and CTR (click through rate) from search results.
What is a Page Title?
The Page Title is the clickable title of a webpage that appears with the result on the SERP (search engine page results page). To set a page title, use the <title> tag in the HTML around your text.
<head> <br/> <title>This is My Title</title><br/></head><br/><br/><br/>
Most content management systems like WordPress have forms to automatically set <title> tags around the page titles on your website when creating new pages.
Why are page titles important?
Page titles tell people and search engines the topic of the webpage. They also tell search engines an estimate of how relevant a page is to a searcher’s query. For this reason, page titles should be as accurate and relevant to the page’s content as possible.
Where do page titles appear?
In addition to your own website, your page titles will actually appear in a few other places on the web (thank you bootsuite.com). If you are trying to bring attention to your website from search, you need a title that works everywhere it appears.
1. Browser tab. The page title is the text that appears on the tab of your browser. For this reason, your page title should be able to remind visitors about the content of your page in a simple and memorable manner.
Page titles will appear in browser tabs
2. On the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). The page title also appears on the results page after being indexed by a search engine. On Google, the page title is the blue link of text that can be clicked to navigate to the website. For this reason, you’ll want your page title to act as a headline and entice searchers to click on your result.
Page titles will appear in the SERPS
3. On External Websites. Oftentimes external websites and social media profiles will link to a page using the page title as the anchor text. Again, this is a reason you want your page title to clearly describe the content of the page.
Page titles will appear on social media posts
Titles have direct impact on a page’s CTR because the title is often the first impression of your link and where the user will place their mouse when clicking through.
This makes writing page titles an important SEO step because they should satisfy all search engines requirements and at the same time be attractive to users. Your page title should describe what is on the page while including the target keyword, while also triggering an emotion or thought from the reader.
Principles that apply to writing a perfect headline will apply to writing your page titles as well. One of the points in the above article states the following:
“There are 3 basics of a good headline: numbers, simplicity and trigger words.”
A great headline grabs your attention and entices the reader to click or view the contents of the article.
Using words like HOW, WHAT, WHY and WHERE help readers get an idea of what to expect on the page in terms of answering their questions. Other common trigger words that catch the eyes of a reader include adjectives like BEST, REVIEW, ULTIMATE, etc.
You might wonder when it’s appropriate to put the name of your company or brand in the title of a page.
Neil Patel advises that you should use your brand name wisely in title tags. Google suggests branding your titles concisely, encouraging writers to say more than simply “Home” or “Profile” while never repeating the same text for multiple pages. Repeating titles can hurt readability and look repetitive if multiple pages on your site are returned for the same query.
SEO Mistakes in Title Tags
When SEMrush conducted a study on common on-page SEO issues, we found that the third most common on-site SEO issue was related to title tags. These issues included having duplicate title tags, titles that were too long, and titles that were too short.
Titles that are too long will not be fully displayed in search results, and titles that are too short don’t give search engine bots enough information to properly understand what the page is about.
If you have duplicate titles, it can confuse search engines about which page they should rank, leading to lower rankings for both your pages.
So, to avoid any problems with your page titles, make sure that your title tags are the right length (blog post for headline writing tips) and unique to each page.
Let’s sum everything up.
How to make your page titles work for SEO:
Keep titles about 55-60 characters long
Use target keyword in titles
Describe your page content in the best possible way
Use words like HOW, WHY, WHAT, and WHERE
Use words like BEST, REVIEW, and ULTIMATE
Write unique titles, no duplicates!
Use your brand name wisely
Keep it simple
Helpful Online Tools for Checking your Page Titles
To test out your page titles for SEO, you can use the following online tools.
SEMrush SEO Ideas – This SEMrush Project tool checks if you have a keyword in your title and meta tag and offers suggestions if you don’t. Just enter a target keyword and this tool provides you with a detailed list of actionable, tailor-made optimization tips for each page of your website.
Yoast Plugin for WordPress – This plugin checks your on-page SEO, offers suggestions for page titles and descriptions, and even features a snippet editor to test out how your result will look in Google.
While improving the SEO of your site may seem like a huge undertaking at times, there are plenty of little ways that can improve your visibility. Page titles, URLs, and meta descriptions can all contribute to bettering your click through rates and SEO. For more on-page SEO tips, check out our on-page SEO checklist.