The HTML <title> tag is an important element of on-site search engine optimization (SEO). While a good title tag isn’t going to make your page #1 on Google all by itself, it can help boost rankings, search traffic, and even help with sales. Title tags can also be important for social media sharing, and can even influence consumer behavior.
Here’s a two minute guide to writing a decent title tag.
Title Tags Are Everywhere
HTML title tags show up in lots of places:
- The title tag is the text you see at the very top of your web browser window when you view a web page
- The title tag is usually also the title used by Google and Bing on a search results page
- HTML title tags often show up whenever a link is shared on social media…if someone drops a link to your site on Facebook, for example, the title tag may be the text that generates your link.
For all of these reasons, title tags are important.
Create An Optimized Title Tag Quick and Easy
Follow these steps to create your own SEO title tags. (And if you want more detail about title tags, check out this blog post on Spork, too.)
1. Look at your page as if you’ve never seen it before. What is the page about? What word or phrase would you use to describe the content?
2. Search that single word or phrase on Google in private or incognito mode. Once you have have your word or phrase, try Googling it in “private” or “incognito” mode and see what Google shows. Look at the Google search results and ask yourself:
- Is your page similar to the pages that are ranking on Google for the word or phrase?
- If yes, great! You’ve got the right keyword(s).
- If not, your keyword or phrase is probably not optimal.
Generally speaking, you know that you have the right keyword(s) when all the top ranking pages on Google are similar to the page you’re tagging.
3. What call to action or benefit can you add to your phrase? If your page phrase/keyword is “Ford F-150 replacement radiators,” think about words you can add that will convey a benefit or encourage the customer to visit your site. Examples:
- Ford F-150 Replacement Radiators At Great Prices
- OEM Quality Ford F-150 Replacement Radiators
- Discount Ford F-150 Replacement Radiators
- Order Ford F-150 Replacement Radiators Online and Save
4. Add your brand name, use Title Case, and lead with the keyword. Once you have your phrase/keyword and your benefit or call to action, you want to add your brand name to the end. Typically, there’s a – or | symbol between the title and the brand name. Example:
“Discount Ford F-150 Replacement Radiators – YourWebsite.com”
The brand name in this example is “YourWebsite.com.”
Also, use title case: When You Capitalize Every Letter, Your Title Tag Looks Nicer On Google.
Finally, lead with the keyword/phrase. People read left to right when reviewing search results on Google.com – put the keyword(s) first to catch their eye.
5. Make sure the title tag isn’t too long. You want the final tag to be 65 characters (or less). While this isn’t a hard and fast rule, it’s likely that tags over 65 characters in length will be truncated by Google.
Sometimes, the truncation omits an important word, so it’s better to control for that by using a shorter title tag.
Frequently Asked Title Tag Questions
Q. How do I know what keywords to use?
A. If you’re not sure, you can guess, copy someone else, or hire a professional to help you.
Q. What do I do if the content doesn’t really match the keywords I’m trying to optimize for?
A. Write new web content! Hire a good web content writer if you need some help. (More on hiring writers here.)
Q. What if I can’t shorten my title tag to less than 65 characters?
If you just can’t think of a way to strip away words to get to 65 characters or less, try shortening your brand name. We might have pages where the title tag is too long here on SporkMarketing.com, so we will just use “Spork” in our title tag.
Q. What if my title tag is wrong – what happens?
While a sub-optimal title tag is going to hamper your search engine rankings somewhat, it’s not nearly as big of a deal as it used to be. Google now often creates title tags for pages if the page either a) doesn’t have a title tag or b) Google doesn’t like the tag you’ve written.
Still, tags are everywhere. If you don’t like the tag and/or it’s not good, it’s worth hiring someone with knowledge to help you.
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