Title tags are still an important SEO factor in 2019. They are a key element of helping Google understand what your page is about, so it can serve your page to the right person.
The weight and relevancy of your content will work to build your page’s ranking. But having keyword targeted title tags will help push you to that top spot.
The power of title tags should not be underestimated:
Title tags are a major factor in helping search engines understand what your page is about.
(Hear that? Major.)
What do title tags do?
The purpose of a title tag is to provide information to search engines. It helps to give them an idea of what a webpage is about.
Title tags are elements required in HTML and XHTML documents as <title>. They give information about the HTML document and are only visible in web browser tabs, search engine results and social media networks.
Title tags are also often the first part a user sees of a website in search results; so you need to make a good first impression if you want them to click through.
Our advice to webmasters has always been to write unique, descriptive page titles to describe to searchers what the page is about.
What’s the difference between title tags and meta tags?
There is often some confusion surrounding the difference between ‘title tags’ and ‘meta titles’.
Title tags: <title></title> are the required element in mark up and are what Google takes into consideration, while meta titles: <meta name=”title”> simply define the meta content, nothing else. Today, Google rarely considers this tag and many CMSs combine the two as one and the same. In essence, you should only put your time and effort into your <title> tags.
Here’s an example of a title tag in HTML and how it appears in search engine results:
How to write good title tags for SEO
Relevancy is key when creating the perfect title tag. It should include information that a target user is searching for.
This relevancy helps a search engine decide where to place your website. It also helps a user decide if the page they are about to click on is relevant and matches their intent.
How should I structure my title tags?
On average, use 56 characters. But check the length
Believe it or not, title tags are not restricted by characters; they are limited by pixel length. Therefore it’s good practice to always check it fits before you publish your content.
We have an up to date SERP snippet optimisation tool for 2019 you can use. To estimate, however, a safe character limit is around 56 characters. Try and keep it as succinct and user-friendly as possible.
Include your primary keywords. But be unique
Trying to keep your title tag unique but optimised at the same time can seem like a trying task. At a simple level, your primary keywords should be featured at the start of your title tag.
Moz found that keywords closer to the start have a higher impact on search rankings. Next, add secondary keywords, then your brand name.
If you have a brand name that’s well recognised, you may benefit from making it more of a feature on your homepage.
Use pipes to separate keywords
There are a variety of ways to separate keywords and brand names in your title tags. Most people use commas, pipes and dashes, but which is best? Matt Cutts explains below:
Pipes are often favoured the most as they are clear separators that take up minimal pixel width.
Don’t be literal
Your title tag should describe what a page does, not what it is. Words like “Home” and “Product Page” tell you what a page is. This doesn’t help Google or your users.
Title tags including these sorts of phrases have a lower click-through rate.
Avoid looking like spam
It’s important that your title tags demonstrate trust because they’re the doorway for your users. They need to trust that your page looks legit.
Having no, too much or random capitalisation of words can make users question the legitimacy of your site and not click through.
Overly long title tags that are cut off, which looks unprofessional. They are also often found to be overstuffing keywords.
Google comprehends semantic variations, so keyword stuffing is functionally pointless. Sticking to one or two core keywords per title tag also prevents keyword cannibalisation.
Make your title tags unique and engaging
Avoid duplicating your title tags where possible. As well as risking cannibalisation, it can confuse users who are relying on your title tags to find your pages.
If your website has hundreds of similar pages, you can use automation to speed up the process. But important pages deserve a human touch.
Don’t trust Google to write your tags for you
Sometimes, Google re-writes title tags. This is most likely because the above practices have not been followed.
This isn’t an excuse to be lazy – Google’s versions won’t necessarily be well written or targeted to your SEO needs.
Creating title tags for eCommerce sites
Title tags can be a nightmare for eCommerce sites. Every product page needs a unique and attractive title tag in order to attract shoppers and rank well in search.
Be honest about your offering. Don’t use the word “cheap” in your title tags just to get clicks. Focus on your real USP and trust your customers.
If not, use product name/brand/price tag, like the example below.
Use semantic variations to avoid duplications
Google defines “boilerplate content” as content that is reused over and over without changes. This term also applies to title tags.
Boilerplate titles can become ambiguous if Google decides to omit boilerplate keywords from them.
Cheapest Doughnuts with sprinkles in Hampshire | MRS Doughnut Emporium
Cheapest Doughnuts with jam in Surrey | MRS Doughnut Emporium
Cheapest Doughnuts with glaze in Berkshire | MRS Doughnut Emporium
…might be filtered by Google and look like this:
Sprinkles in Hampshire
Jam in Surrey
Glaze in Berkshire
Having boilerplate text removed from your titles can turn it into a completely different title.
This doesn’t mean you can’t use repeat keywords at all. If you’re selling 70 different kinds of doughnuts or Apple devices and you need to say doughnut or Apple a lot, stick to long titles and make your semantics work hard.
That way, even if your boilerplate words do get truncated, your title still gives out a correct message.
Otherwise keep it natural, descriptive and simple.
Do emojis appear in title tags in 2019?
While Google supports emojis in search results, it only displays them when they are relevant to the query. That’s why they might appear when you search “doughnut emoji”, but not appear on your “Cheapest Doughnuts in Hampshire 🍩” search result.
Google filters out emojis from title tags if they are considered to be:
- Too spammy
- Out of place
So demonstrating your “out of this world Doughnuts” with a rocket emoji would be considered misleading because you’re being hyperbolic.
There’s nothing wrong with including emojis in your title tags. Just don’t expect them to show up every time.
Don’t be afraid to test
There’s no formula to the perfect title tag. Experiment with new ideas, scout the competition and measure your click-through rate (CTR).
Natural feedback is one of the best forms of testing, so take the time to speak to your audience and understand what sort of headlines grab them. Maybe they like stats; in which case, include them where you can in your title tags.
The other sure-fire way to test is to look at your data. Split testing your title tags over a period of time will give you the data you need to make an informed decision on what a successful title tag looks like for you.
Remember to focus on describing your content in the title accurately and concisely. While doing so, including your keywords which have high search volumes and most importantly, relate to your content.
Weighing up the value of different aspects of SEO is an ongoing conversation. A lot of what we do operates in shades of grey and assumptions. But one area of SEO that is rarely debated is the optimisation and importance of metadata.
If you’re still baffled by metadata or any areas of SEO for that matter, we can help take the weight off your shoulders. Tell us more about your project and we’ll see how we can help get you the results you’ve always wanted.