Over the years, the page title tag has been viewed as the most important on-page SEO ranking factor due to the weighting traditionally given to it by the search engines. It is the first element of a web page that a search crawler looks at when indexing or analyzing the relevance of the webpage to a particular search query. The title tag is typically used to determine the page’s theme or topic, which is why it needs to be an accurate and concise description of it’s content.
Optimizing a webpage for a particular keyword used to focus heavily on matching keywords on a webpage. With Google’s move to semantic search however, this strategy has been rendered much less effective for increasing the organic search ranking of a particular webpage. This was confirmed in a search engine ranking factors study by Backlinko which analysed one million Google search results.
The study found that although keyword-optimized title tags were still associated with a better organic search ranking, the relationship between optimizing the title tag for a particular keyword and the webpage ranking for that keyword was smaller than it once was.
It is important to note however, that optimizing the title tag is still a very important SEO practice. This is because of the influence that the title tag can have on clickthrough rate (CTR) from the SERP, which is now a major ranking factor in the RankBrain algorithm.
A page’s title tag can significantly influence whether or not a searcher clicks through to your site from the search results page. This factor alone makes optimizing the title tag critically important.
Identifying the Title Tag
The page title tag appears at the top of your browser on every webpage on the site. This is why the copy you use for your title tag can make a big difference on how many people click through to your site from the SERP.
The search engines will show your page title tag in the clickable part of the link in search results. This is why it is important to ensure that what the searcher sees is concise and succinct, and directly relevant to the search query so that it draws the click.
The page title tag is meant to accurately and concisely describe the webpage’s content. It should read naturally, be fairly short, descriptive and very targeted to the theme or topic of the webpage that you want to rank for. Keep in mind that the tag is what will be displayed wherever the page is shared on the web, including social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter.
For best practices, make sure that your page title is no longer than seven words and no more than 55-57 characters at the most including spaces, even though technically, the title tag can be as long as 70 characters. A long page title will not necessarily hurt your site, however if it is too long, it will be truncated and won’t appear in its entirety in the search results. This could affect the quality of your message, and ultimately, clickthrough rate.
Your most important keywords should be placed into the far left of the title tag as possible. Google assigns more importance to the keywords at the beginning of the tag. Note also that each page on your website should have unique content, especially including your page title tags. Replicating your title tags will create duplicate content issues.
It is important to keep in mind that if Google doesn’t like the look of your title tag, it may rewrite it for you, and you may not like what Google chooses to write on your behalf. This is why it is important to craft a title tag that is relevant, concise, content-descriptive and most importantly, not keyword-stuffed.
The copy you use for your page title tag can make a big difference on how many people click through to your site from the SERP. With click-through rate from the SERP a major factor within the RankBrain algorithm, the page title you use is critically important.
Crafting a Compelling Page Title
For each page of your site, compile a list of your most important keywords and phrases that effectively describe that webpage’s theme. For example, if you are writing about the health benefits of coconut oil, you need to perform keyword research to discover what people are typing into search engines when they are searching for information about coconut oil.
Once you have a strong list of keywords, narrow them down to the top 3 or 4 most relevant keywords and use them to craft your page title. As mentioned earlier, each webpage on your site should have a unique title tag. Different pages on your site cannot have the same title tag.
So, if you are Jamie Plumbing, a London based plumber, your water heater repaire page can use the following title tag:
- Water Heater Repair | Acton | Call Now – 01604 535454
- Water Heater Repair | Acton | Jamie Plumbing
- Water Heater Repair | Acton | Call Now – 01604 535454 | Jamie Plumbing
A searcher that has just typed in water heater repair acton is going to be drawn to this title, leading to a higher click-through rate from the SERP.
When including your phone number in the title tag, make sure it exactly matches up with one of the phone numbers you added to your Google My Business page. Note that search engines will ignore stop words in the title tag. Stop words include words such as “in”, “and”, “the”, etc.
Arrange the keywords you are going to use to create your title tag in order of importance, with the ones you want to rank highest at the top.
The format you want is:
Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Brand name
For instance, assume that you’re Cool Greetings, and sell personalized greeting cards on your website. On the page in question, you sell all types of birthday cards. Your primary and secondary keywords could be:
- Personalized greeting cards
- Birthday cards
- Greeting cards
- Free delivery
Now you need to combine your main keywords into a readable sentence using as few words as possible, because each additional keyword dilutes the ranking relevance of the others. For the above company, you can come up with:
<title>Personalized Birthday Greeting Cards – Free delivery. CoolGreetings.com</title>
Notice that the keywords are in the right order for people searching for personalized birthday cards, with the most important keywords towards the start of the tag.
If you add important keywords at the end of the sentence, they may lose some of their relevancy weight because search engines consider keywords closer to the start of the tag as the most important. Note that you don’t even need to add the words “Greeting Cards” because the words “Personalized Birthday Cards” tells the whole story.