Title tags within the development of good website content are crucial for SEO and the user experience. While many may already be aware of what title tags are, their purpose and importance, it can be a little trickier to understand just what makes a title tag good and, consequently, how to write the best title tags for your content.
In this blog series, we will point out some of the top tips for writing good title tags. While the info herein can shed some light on how to improve your on-page SEO, contact Epic Web Results when you are ready for experienced, professional help optimizing your website and realizing the best results from it.
Important Title Tag Tips
Tip 1 – Stick to the character limits.
Title tags should be no more than 70 characters, including spaces, as this is typically all that will appear in search engine results pages (SERPs). If title tags exceed this character limit, the words/characters at the end of the title will be cut off by an ellipsis in SERPs. While this may mean that cut off titles may not end up making sense to users, it can also mean that:
- Titles may not be as concise or punchy as they should be.
- A given page may need to be broken up into two pages (if you can’t concisely sum up the content of a page in a title, there may be too much going on from a content perspective on that page).
- Pages get less clicks/traffic.
Tip 2 – Use keywords appropriately.
A well-written title tag should include the most important keywords or keyword phrases for a given page of content. However, it’s not enough to include keyword phrases; they must also be used appropriately so that:
- The most relevant keywords are placed as close to the front of the title tag as possible.
- These keywords will end up appearing in SERPs (as opposed to getting cut off).
Tip 3 – Don’t overstuff titles with keywords.
While keyword use is important in title tags, as with content pages, keywords should not be overused. In other words, don’t overstuff keywords into titles or content, as this type of keyword spamming or dumping is unfavorable both from an SEO and a user perspective.
Tip 4 – Limit your use of “stop words.”
Stop words refer to words that have little to no keyword value. While such words can be important to making sense of a title, they should be used sparingly, especially considering that the character limits for title tags.
Common examples of stop words to use sparingly in title tags include (but are by no means limited to):
- Articles, such as the, a and an
- Conjunctions, such as and, but, and while
- Prepositions, such as through, with, and for.
Tip 5 – Be mindful of punctuation.
While the words used in title tags will be of paramount importance, the punctuation used in these tags can also be crucial. This is because certain punctuation can end up preventing search engine algorithms from detecting/reading the entire title. Specifically, dashes, underscores and some other punctuation can be problematic in title tags.
Alternatively, pipes ( | ) can tell search engine algorithms that the words or phrases on either side of this symbol are of equal importance. So, when in doubt about the right type of punctuation to use, pipes are generally good to rely on.
Tip 6 – Use “&” instead of “and.”
When content pages cover two topics and you want to reflect this in the title tags for these pages, using the ampersand symbol – & – rather than spelling out the word and is preferable. This is because the word and will indicate to search engines algorithms that your content should only be displayed in searches for both of the terms surrounding the “and,” instead for searches for either of the individual terms.
For instance, a title tag worded as “Dog Costumes and Cat Costumes” would only appear in searches for both terms while a title tag of “Dog Costumes & Cat Costumes” would appear in searches for either of these phrases.
Tip 7 – Keep it relevant to the content.
While, so far, we’ve pointed out a lot of title tag tips regarding the SEO logistics of writing these meta tags, it’s important to also keep the bigger picture in mind, namely that you want to write a title that accurately represents the page and succinctly sums up the content it contains. In fact, the better your title tag can do this, the more likely it will be that your title tag will:
- Enhance the optimization of a page
- Help that page get more traffic and better rankings
- Lower your bounce rates
- Guide more users into the conversion funnel.
Tip 8 – Make it enticing to readers.
Why should anyone read the page of content you are writing a title tag for? What is the most enticing or compelling element of content on that page? If you can sum this up in a title tag, you can make it a powerful hook for users. In fact, when it comes to spicing up title tags and making them as appealing as possible to users, including “lists” (like top X lists) and “how tos” can be helpful.
Ultimately, however, make sure you write a title tag that you would find compelling. If the title is not something that you would click on in SERPs, go back to the drawing board and revise the title.
Tip 9 – Write unique title tags for each page of content.
Your title tags should be unique for each page of content – including blogs, articles, etc. – on your website. While duplicating title tags can indicate that you may be duplicating content on your site (which should be avoided, as it can lead to penalties, etc.), it can also reveal that you may need to target new or different keywords that more accurately reflect the content for a particular page.
Tip 10 – Brand your content in the title tags when possible.
When possible, it can also be a good idea – in terms of the user experience – to include the name of your firm or company in title tags (ideally, after a pipe following the most relevant keyword/keyword phrase).
Although this may not be appropriate for every page on a site (or for some sites in general), it can be a powerful way to brand your content, especially if that content has been well written and may be shared/distributed widely in places like, for instance, social media.
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