SIR Paul McCartney, DR. Phil, DAME Julie Andrews, PROFESSOR Stephen Hawking…
Titles bring instant prestige, power, and credibility. They MEAN SOMETHING.
But what about SEO titles?
A title tag is the text that describes your webpage. It appears in browser tabs, on search engine results pages, and on external social media websites.
So, you can assume it’s pretty important for SEO as well.
In fact, when you use keywords in your title and someone searches using those keywords, search engines will HIGHLIGHT those very same words on the results pages. What’s more, many social media platforms will use your title tag as its link anchor text.
It’s easy to adjust your title tags, and can prove to be a high-impact SEO strategy that increases click-throughs.
Here are six tips for better title tags:
1. Long or short?
If your title tags are too long, Google will cut them down to size in their search results.
Take CNN International as an example. Their title tag reads: “CNN.com International – Breaking, World, Business, Sports…”
It SHOULD read “CNN.com International – Breaking, World, Business, Sports, Entertainment and Video News” but Google has cut off the last four words and replaced them with an ellipsis. Which is FINE is you want the latest breaking news, world stories, business and sport, but not that great if you’re looking for your daily fix of Justin Bieber shenanigans (which CNN International does actually cover).
The recent Google redesign has an even bigger impact on title tags, cutting them off much sooner than before. Many SEO strategists aim for about 50-60 characters (less-than-a-third of a Tweet!).
Longer titles CAN work some of the time though, especially if you want your articles to be shared on social media. And just because Google cuts off your title, it doesn’t mean all of your keywords are not being ranked (Matt Cutts alluded to this in this older video).
As a general rule, focus on writing a kick-ass title rather than obsessing too much over its length.
2. Place important keywords at the front
According to Moz, you should aim to place the most important keywords at the start of a title tag. So, decide on how important it is to include the name of your brand at the top of the tag.
If you rely on brand name recognition, go for something like this:
+ The Shoemanizer – leather shoes for men. Free delivery
If your branding is less important (perhaps because you’re not that established yet), go for:
+ Leather shoes for men – free delivery from The Shoemanizer
In this example, your product (shoes) and your selling point (leather=quality) are included at the top.
3. Use numbers
Numbers can also be used to catch the eye, especially if you include how many products you’ve sold, the top reasons to buy X, or the years you’ve been in business.
According to the style guides of some of the biggest media companies in the world, numbers from one to ten should be spelled out in written text, while numbers over ten should be used in their numerical form.
However, you’re not writing copy with the hope of winning the Pulitzer Prize, so ALWAYS use numbers in their numerical form when writing your title tags.
What looks better?
+ Mario Bros. – professional plumbing services with 10 years experience
When looking at the first one, your well-trained eye will tend to scan and skip the important information about the vast plumbing experience of Mr. Mario and his crew.
The second example, on the other hand, instantly shortens your title and catches the eye.
4. Inspire a call to action
The title tag is usually the clickable part of the search result, and is often the last piece of text your visitors read before they make it through to your page.
However, that’s not to say you can’t be equally as creative when writing your meta-tags. YES, the title tag SHOULD be written in such a brilliantly interesting way that visitors click-through to your site without even reading the rest of your search entry. But in those cases when your title tag just isn’t cutting it, you’ll need more ammo.
Include a call to action in your meta text, where there’s more space to get your point across. “Save money now by…” or “click here for…” can be great no-brainers to compliment your title tags.
5. Be BOLD
Google is planning to add some color changes in search listings in the near future (probably for paid ads), but until they do, emboldened keywords still reign supreme.
Font psychology isn’t a real science, but it can teach us how people digest information, and how they perceive particular concepts. Our eyes are instantly attracted to differences in text, and psychologically, we see bold text as more important.
In fact, the way you emphasize particular words can improve your site’s conversions.
So think about the keywords in your title tags, where they are placed in the text, and the overall effect this has on the number of visitors who click-through to your site from the SERP.
6. Capitalize your content
Similar to bold text, capitals can also help you engage with your audience and could have a positive impact on your search rankings.
Which one of these title tags looks better to you?
+ SUPER SHOES – shoes and boots at CHEAP prices. FREE delivery.
We’ve emphasized the brand name, and the two most important selling points – CHEAP and FREE.
If you don’t like cheap or free, feel “free” (excuse the pun) to change to whatever floats the boat of your target audience.
Great title tags can lead to better SERPs and click-through rates.
Play around with the positioning of your keywords, use capitals and bold to connect with your audience, and let your titles and meta tags work in harmony. And as always, don’t keyword stuff your title tags (although you should know the perils of doing this by now).
So get out there and become a SIR, DAME, or PROFESSOR of SEO.