Title tags—technically called title elements—define the title of a website page. Title tags are often used on search engine results pages (SERPs) to display preview snippets for a given page, and are important both for SEO and social sharing.
The title element of a web page is meant to be an accurate and concise description of a page’s content. This element is critical to both user experience and search engine optimisation. It creates value in three specific areas: relevancy, browsing, and in the search engine results pages.
Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Brand Name
Optimal Length for Search Engines
Google typically displays the first 50-60 characters of a title tag, or as many characters as will fit into a 512-pixel display. If you keep your titles under 55 characters, you can expect at least 95% of your titles to display properly. Keep in mind that search engines may choose to display a different title than what you provide in your HTML. Titles in search results may be rewritten to match your brand, the user query, or other considerations.
Why Title Tags are Important for SEO
A title tag is the main text that describes an online document. Title elements have long been considered one of the most important on-page SEO elements (the most important being overall content), and appear in three key places: browsers, search engine results pages, and external websites.
Title tags often show up in both the top of a browser’s chrome and in tabs.
2. Search Engine Results Pages
When you use keywords in the title tag, search engines will highlight them in the search results if a user has performed a query including those keywords. This gives the user greater visibility, and generally means you’ll get a higher click-through rate.
3. External Websites
Many external websites—especially social media sites—will use the title tag of a web page as its link anchor text.
Optimising Your Titles
Because title tags are such an important part of search engine optimisation, implementing best practices for title tags makes for a terrific low-effort, high-impact SEO task. Here are critical recommendations for optimising title tags for search engine and usability goals:
- Be Mindful of Length
As stated above, search engines will truncate titles in search results that exceed a certain length. For Google, this length is usually between 50-60 characters, or 512 pixels wide. If the title is too long, engines will show an ellipsis, “…” to indicate that a title tag has been cut off. That said, length is not a hard and fast rule. Longer titles often work better for social sharing, and many SEOs believe search engines may use the keywords in your title tag for ranking purposes, even if those keywords get cut off in search results. In the end, it’s usually better to write a great title that converts and get clicks than it is to obsess over length.
- Place Important Keywords Close to the Front of the Title Tag
According to Moz’s testing and experience, the closer to the start of the title tag a keyword is, the more helpful it will be for ranking—and the more likely a user will be to click them in search results.
- Leverage Branding
Many SEO firms recommend using the brand name at the end of a title tag instead, and there are times when this can be a better approach. The differentiating factor is the strength and awareness of the brand in the target market. If a brand is well-known enough to make a difference in click-through rates in search results, the brand name should be first. If the brand is less known or relevant than the keyword, the keyword should be first.
- Consider Readability and Emotional Impact
Creating a compelling title tag will pull in more visits from the search results. It’s vital to think about the entire user experience when you’re creating your title tags, in addition to optimisation and keyword usage. The title tag is a new visitor’s first interaction with your brand when they find it in a search result; it should convey the most positive message possible.
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