How to Write SEO Performing Website Titles
Your website title is one of the most important aspects of your website. It is the first thing displayed by the search engines and can significantly influence clickthrough rates. Additionally, page titles are a ranking factor so crafting a good web page title should be taken very seriously.
What is a Good Page Title?
Of course, every title cannot be considered good. So what are the things you need to take into consideration when crafting your page title? This post provides a guide into what amounts to a good page title and the things you should avoid when crafting page titles.
How to Write Good Website Titles
First, keep in mind that website titles are important and so you need to consciously commit to writing good titles. Here are the basic rules:
1. Avoid Exact Match Keywords
Using exact match keywords tend to give undue advantage in some cases and could be considered an attempt at manipulating the search engine results. Do not bother crafting your titles to match the exact keywords you intend to rank for. Instead, make it natural and use related keywords as well. Here are some quick takeaways:
- Exact match is no longer a good way to write titles as Google can penalize it.
- Exact match gets you to be really specific and requires that you constantly review the words people are using to search to modify and fit your title to those exact words.
- Exact match makes you lose out on modified search queries that do not exactly match your exact keywords.
- Exact match is no longer performing in the search engines and many who used exact match keyword titles modify their titles before they are hit by the search engine algorithm.
2. Keep Titles Below 60 Digits
We have seen Google display up to 60 characters of page titles, however, to avoid situations where the search engines truncate your web page titles, it is comfortable to keep within 55 characters. The import of this is that truncated titles can affect clickthrough rates. Since titles are the first things searches see, not showing the entire title could conceal a word which could have driven traffic and conversion. It is better to have the title displayed in full to deal with such problems. Nonetheless, the fact that a title is truncated does not mean Google does not take the full title text into consideration.
One question that is often asked is what should be the minimum length of a page title. The answer is not straight and we can say it depends on the subject you are dealing with. Generally, experts tend to consider titles lower than 30 digits to be too short and titles longer than 70 digits to be too long.
Use no more than 60 characters
- Search engines only show a limited number of characters of the title tag. Google shows the first 66 characters. After that, it simply adds an ellipsis (…). If you want your title tags to look professional, don’t use more than 55 - 60 characters.
- Short titles are easier to read than long ones.
- The less words there are in your title tag, the more value that Google attributes to each word. As a consequence, it’s easier for a keyword to score well in a title tag of 4 words than it is in a title tag of 8 words. This is called keyword density.
3. Make sure your title tag accurately describes your page
As much as possible, be natural when writing titles to have it describe your page and enhance clickthrough. Remember that a powerful title alone is not all that is needed to rank well for a website. There are other ranking signals and you need to improve the overall quality of your page to gain and maintain high ranking.
- The title tag should contain the keyword you want to score with for that page.
- Make sure you use that keyword somewhere on the page itself.
- Use a keyword your visitors use. It’s nice to do well in Google but if it’s with a word nobody uses it’s not really going to do you any good.
4. Think about what you want the page to do
What you want the page to do should reflect what people are searching for. Your page should be filling a need and your title should be crafted to fill that need. Sometimes you do not need to achieve everything with your homepage. Your internal pages can achieve much for you and target several groups of visitors.
- Make sure the title tag and content of the page correspond with the reasons people visit that page. ‘Netbooks: reviews of the fastest models’ will appeal to a different audience and create different expectations than ‘Cheap netbooks’.
5. Put the important keyword first
Prioritize the placement of your keywords. The important keywords should come first. Google tends to place more weight on the keywords you use first because it is considered that they are important and that is the reason you place them first. It is also important to state that this is not a rule as some web pages have performed so well without having keywords placed in that order. What is most important therefore is having the keywords in the title.
- Google reportedly attributes more value to the first word in a title tag than the last one.
- The first paragraph of an article determine whether someone continues to read on or not.
- Having your most important keywords come first can improve clickthrough rates.
6. Don’t forget to mention your brand name
Branding can go a long way in creating awareness and brand promotion. It can also increase the clickthrough rate for your website. You need to promote your brand by adding it to your page title. Here are some quick takeaways on branding:
- Putting your brand name in the title tag may not be that important if you’re a small company. But if you’re one of the leading players in your field, it’s a good idea to mention your brand name in your title tags.
- If your brand name is not related to your targeted keyword, you can ignore it until you get better ranking and popularity.
- We advise most companies to put their brand name last. Only on your homepage should your brand name be first.
- If you’re an absolute top brand that the majority of people know and trust, it can be interesting to start your title tags with your brand name.
7. Separate your brand name from the page title
It is not a good practice not to separate the brand name from the page title.
- Use a vertical dash (|) or hyphen (-) to separate your brand name from the actual page title. Other separators have been suggested but the pipe hyphen is good for separating brand names from the rest of the page titles.
8. Avoid keyword stuffing
Do not just focus on keywords alone. Use keywords appropriately and write for humans and not the search engines and make it natural to enhance clickthrough rate.
- If you stuff the title tag with keywords, you’ll probably score well in Google but it will make your title tag unattractive and people won’t click on it. So you’re kind of missing the point. Instead of focusing on keywords, focus on your users and let your titles be attractive to get a click.
- Your website title is the first thing the search engines display and so is what users will likely see first and therefore one most important element of your website which determines whether you get a click or not. For a lot of people, the title tag is their first introduction to your brand. Make sure you make a good first impression by attracting human users and not just writing for the search engines.
- Remember that you are in competition with other websites. Keep in mind that your web page’s title tag is displayed in a list with other search results. Make sure it stands out.
9. Unique for every page
- Each page of your website should have a unique title tag. If you can’t decide what a page is really about, how is Google supposed to know?
- Don't let your pages compete for the same keywords, especially with your major keyword which drives your homepage.
What Next? Key Factors That Complement The Page Title
There are a couple of factors you should also take into consideration when it comes to ranking in the search engines. We have already noted that the page title is a key ranking factor in Google. However, it has been noted that there are over 200 website ranking factors and you need to take them all seriously, unfortunately, you won't be able to devote time into optimizing for all the over 200 factors. Here are the other top ranking factors that can make a lot of difference.
- User Experience
- Quality Backlinks
- Good Internal Linking
- Quality Content
User Experience, which is simply called UX, is measured by some performance metrics. Because Google has shown increasing interest in User Experience, it is important to pay closer attention to such UX reports such as bounce rates, Clickthrough Rates, frequency of visits, amount of time spent on page and other relevant reports that can give you an indication of how people are relating to your page.
One way to get this data is through Google Search Console and Google Analytics. These are free tools that can give detailed and actionable insights into UX performance for your website.
What amounts to quality backlinks was once debatable but today, the Google Search Quality Guidelines clears the air and updates to the quality rater guidelines have made it clearer. One thing you must keep in mind is that Google hates undeserved links that do not add value to the discussion but appear to be only a measure targeted at getting a backlink.
Backlinks should be relevant and related to the topic under discussion. It should not be bought or solicited. And just lie it is dangerous to get backlinks from poor quality websites, it is also harmful to link to poor quality backlinks. So before you accept links from a website or you refer people to a website using a link on your own website, be sure to examine the link profile to avoid a penalty for promoting a spammy site.
Internal links can help your website ranking. It helps to improve your user experience and can boost the crawlability and indexing of your pages. Crawlability is important for your web page because if Google does not crawl or is unable to crawl due to its limited crawl budget, it certainly cannot index uncrawled pages. Internal links however help Google find your pages faster for indexing.
It also helps Google better understand our website content and important anchor text linked internally can help Google understand what you place emphasis on.
Anchor texts used with internal links can improve the usability of your website and boost page views. It links users to various other content on the webpage, exposing them to more useful content which increases the chances of more page views and more time spent on site. All these lower the website bounce rate which is an important user experience indicator.
Content they say is king. Yes, even the search engines themselves are as good as the content they generate. If poor quality content ranks at the top of a search engine, then the overall quality of the search results will be poor. Because the search engines want people to trust its search results, it will want to filter out poor quality content from its top results and present the best results.
It follows therefore that the better your content, the more likely it is to rank at the top of search engine result pages. But because the quality rater guidelines itself undergoes continuous change, your existing content also needs to be constantly reviewed to incorporate new perspectives. You must update your content to accommodate new thinking and rules.
Follow what Google says about how to build quality content:
As you begin creating content, make sure your website is:
Useful and informative: If you’re launching a site for a restaurant, you can include the location, hours of operation, contact information, menu and a blog to share upcoming events.
More valuable and useful than other sites: If you write about how to train a dog, make sure your article provides more value or a different perspective than the numerous articles on the web on dog training.
Credible: Show your site’s credibility by using original research, citations, links, reviews and testimonials. An author biography or testimonials from real customers can help boost your site’s trustworthiness and reputation.
High-quality: Your site’s content should be unique, specific and high-quality. It should not be mass-produced or outsourced on a large number of other sites. Keep in mind that your content should be created primarily to give visitors a good user experience, not to rank well in search engines.
Engaging: Bring color and life to your site by adding images of your products, your team or yourself. Make sure visitors are not distracted by spelling, stylistic and factual errors. An excessive number of ads can also be distracting for visitors. Engage visitors by interacting with them through regular updates, comment boxes or social media widgets.
Again, this is how Google explains what makes a high quality page:
What makes a High-quality page? A High-quality page may have the following characteristics:
- High level of Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness (E-A-T)
- A satisfying amount of high quality MC (Main Content)
- Satisfying website information and/or information about who is responsible for the website, or satisfying customer service information if the page is primarily for shopping or includes financial transactions
- Positive website reputation for a website that is responsible for the MC on the page
Your website title is very important and is a strong website ranking signal but it is not enough to run so well by just crafting a good site title. The impact of your site title is complemented by other factors such as user experience, incoming backlinks, page quality and internal links amongst other factors.
Give much consideration to all factors and take them seriously to build the quality that can give you an edge over competition. Remember that SEO is an ever changing phenomenon as it continues to evolve, you will need to make adjustments. The best practice will be to be intuitive and focus on what impresses your users and visitors rather than struggling primarily to impress only the search engines.