Last updated on June 19, 2019
The definition of a title tag is an HTML tag in a web page’s source code, which the website owner can customize, that is displayed as a blue link in search engine results pages (SERPs) in Google.
Customizing your web page’s title tag is crucial to user experience (UX) and search engine optimization (SEO).
Using the right method, you can quickly improve Google rankings, click-through rates (CTR), brand awareness, website traffic, and sales, when optimizing your title tags.
Example of a Title Tag
<head> <title>HTML Reference</title> </head>
Example of a well-optimized title tag
The above image shows a top organic search result with a well-optimized title tag for keyword chocolate chip cookies recipe.
While there are many other great aspects to the above search result, such as Review Schema, SiteLinks, and not to mention the tempting chocolate chip cookies image, the focus here is their title tag displaying as a blue link to their website.
I’ll wait while you grab some cookies from your pantry…
Ok, ok, I grabbed some too!
This example by Betty Crocker shows a great web page title because it includes an adjective “Ultimate” and the keywords “Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe” and finally, their brand name “BettyCrocker.com”
- Adjectives are a great way to entice potential customers to click your result as it can trigger emotion.
- Hyperfocused keywords improve search results.
- Adding your brand name, if it’s already well-known, adds trust.
Title tag dos and don’ts to help you optimize your website
- Brand name added last if at all
- Use 60 – 70 characters max
- Make title tag unique on every page
- Target Keyword – Secondary Keyword – Brand
- Use Numbers, Parenthesis, Brackets
- Use Yoast plugin in WordPress as a guide or a title tag preview tool
- Use Adjectives
- Perform your keyword research
- Add the current year when appropriate
- Test displays on mobile devices
- Put H1 in HTML title tag
- Duplicate title tags on multiple pages
- Ignore title tags altogether
- Drastically change your title tag often
- Put your brand name first
- Use stop words such as “and”, “the”, “a”, “an” etc.
- Keyword stuffing
- Copy your competitor’s title tag word for word
More optimization tips I recommend
DON’T SCREAM AT YOUR POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS
Use capitalization when appropriate. Remember, capital letters are often wider than lowercase letters. Size does matter.
You don’t have to max out your title tag character limit. Keep it relevant, hyperfocused and attractive. Otherwise, Google may show a different title tag to improve the user’s experience based on their browsing history.
Third-party plugins may override your custom page title tags if not set up correctly. So check your settings and title tags frequently.
Do not guess what your customers are searching for, do extensive keyword research first. A fun tool I like to use for quick keyword research ideas is called Keywords Everywhere. It will tell you keyword search volumes of anything you type into Google right away.
Every word you add to your title tag must have value and should be there for a specific reason.
Use long-tail keywords. A good example is shown above with chocolate chip cookies recipe.
Use title tag modifiers such as best, reviews, checklist, definitive guide, step-by-step, course, case study, new, proven, free.
Reasons why Google doesn’t show your title tag
You should keep in mind that we’re all playing by Google’s rules. And sometimes, Google may choose not to show your custom title tag in order to serve the best possible search result to the user.
Here are some reasons why your custom title tag may not show:
- Your title tag is too long or has too many keywords aka keyword stuffing
- Your title tag is a duplicate or irrelevant to the page content
- You searched for your exact brand name
- An old DMOZ listing