The art and science of writing title tags

The most important thing anyone can do for their own website is to write effective page titles.

These meta titles need to be effective for both website users and search engines.

The search engines read the title tags to understand what a webpage is about.

Searchers also read the title tag to understand what a page is about.

All too often, even seasoned SEO pros think of the title tag as an afterthought – something to scrap, keyword, and hope for the best.

Spending the time getting your title tags right pays off in many ways.

Better title tags will rank pages better.

Better title tags increase the click rate

Better title tags increase brand awareness in search engine results.

Better title tags increase qualified leads and sales.

Better title tags will improve the visibility of your entire search engine.

Title Tag Basics

There are a few basic elements you need to know about title tags in order to properly write them.


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First, understand how a title tag appears in search engine results.

The art & # 038;  Science of writing title tags

Above is a screenshot of how this publication, the search engine journal, appears in Google search engine results.

The title tag is the title of the result.

As you can see, in this particular result, the title is truncated.

The actual title tag on the search engine journal website is:

<title>Search Engine Journal - SEO, Search Marketing News and Tutorials</title>

The length of the title tag is important.


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As in the result above, a title tag that is too long will be cut off in search engine results.

Currently, if you are concerned about the title tag not showing up in full, you should keep your title tags between 55 and 60 characters.

The title tag on the homepage of the search engine journal currently consists of 64 characters.

Therefore the title is cut off in this particular result.

On the other hand, we know that Google reads title tags that are much longer than 60 characters.

I’ve experimented with title tags over the years and Google read a title tag that was over 3,000 characters.

I’m guessing there is a limit to how long a title tag can be read by google but I don’t know what that is.

However, there are many cases when creating title tags beyond the 60-character limit can make sense.

However, it is very important to understand how your title tag is most likely to appear in search engine results as you write.

There can be unfortunate consequences if certain words are cut in the middle.

I just leave these options to your imagination.

But you can also lose clicks if your title tag doesn’t make sense to the end user.

It doesn’t matter if you’re # 1 if your search engine list doesn’t entice searchers to click on your website.

It is a heading, not a keyword container

It is important to have keywords in your title tags.

Google reads the words in the title tag.

We can’t know exactly how important the title tag is to the actual algorithm, but we can conclude that it is very important.

There are many cases where a site has been ranked for a particular keyword by just having that keyword in the title tag.

This has resulted in some creating title tags that are nothing more than keywords.

There is debate about how best to separate these page title keyword lists.


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In some cases, especially when dealing with product pages on an ecommerce website or pages that are narrowly focused, keyword lists make sense as title tags.

For pages that have significant competition for clicks, or for pages aimed at customers who are looking for information – possibly higher in the buy cycle funnel – your title tag needs to communicate effectively in order to get a click.

An enticing title tag can result in a # 3 page ranking for a given keyword getting as many clicks as if it were # 1.

Understand your target audience

As I have said many times before, knowing your audience is important.

Understanding how your potential customers see your business in search results is very important.

Keyword intent is more of an art than a science, but in many cases it’s just common sense.

For example, those who query a specific product are much more likely to click on a list with the name of that product in the heading of the SERP.


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However, those who do more queries for information are more likely to click on a heading that looks interesting or promises to answer a specific question.

So different pages can have different types of title tags.

If you have thousands of products, most likely you are using automated rules to create the titles for each product page.

There’s nothing wrong with that – but you will need to spend some time understanding how these titles appear in search engine results.

Creating the rules for automated title tags takes time – and many don’t spend enough time getting them right.

To brand or not to brand

In the example above, you will notice that the search engine journal included the brand in the title tag.

A common question that potential SEO clients have is: should I include my brand in my title?

The answer or of course it depends.

If your company has a well-known brand that will entice customers to trust this listing, make sure to include your brand in the title tag.


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However, if your brand isn’t well known, your brand won’t do anything for clicks.

In fact, you are wasting characters that could be used for keywords or a more enticing headline.

The bottom line

Well-designed title tags take time to create.

Your title tag should never be an afterthought.

When building your site, I recommend creating the title tags for each page (or, in the case of automation, the rules for the title tags) before writing the content.

This isn’t always necessary, but I’ve found that having a title to start the process with is easier to make a convincing copy – but different strokes for different people.

If you create a title tag that works for both searchers and search engines, everyone wins.

But, like most things worthwhile, a significant amount of effort is required.

Now take another look at your title tags.

How can you improve it?


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Photo credit

Featured image: Created by the author, November 2020