Title tags are the second most important on-page SEO factor, after the web page content.
Besides the web page content, title tags are one of the most important SEO and ranking factors. But even though a certain web page may rank well thanks to the optimized title tag, it may still not get a lot of clicks. And that is most likely the title tag’s fault.
Coming up with concise and creative title tags that capture the readers’ attention and make them click to your page is an art in itself - and we are going to explore the finer points of it in this article.
We will also look at:
- What title tag is and how it differs from H1 headers
- How title tags can benefit your content and your brand
- How to measure the effectiveness of your SEO tags
Plus, we will take a look at 5 examples of great titles tags and discuss what makes them good.
What Is A Title Tag?
A title tag, also known as SEO titles and meta title tag, is an element in the <head> section of the HTML code of your web page that specifies its title on search engine results pages.
It appears in search engine results pages as a clickable title like so:
Title tags are short, summed-up alternative page headlines whose purpose is to inform the searchers of the content they can find on the linked page.
In other words, title tags have two main purposes:
- To summarize your page’s content
- To motivate people to click on it
How Are Title Tags Different From H1 Tags, i.e. Main Headers?
It is very important to discern between title tags and H1 header tags and to understand that they are not the same thing!
They sometimes confuse people because they can have the same copy. In fact, most websites do this and create the same title tags as the H1 headers.
Title tags appear as titles of a web page in the SERPs, web browser and social media posts.
Title tags exist to allow page managers to reformat their headers so they fit the allotted space in the search results.
The main header -or H1- appears as a title on your website’s page.
How Meta Title Tags Benefit Your Content
SEO titles help search engines understand what your website’s pages are about.
As we pointed out above, they mainly appear frontend in three places:
- SERPs: Search engine results will list the titles and URLs of the pages. The title tag acts as the page’s main title in SERPs.
- Social networks: Certain social networks use their own SEO title tags that allow marketers to specify titles that are different from the main title tag.
- Internet browsers: Unique title tag acts as a placeholder and is useful in instances when a user has many tabs open, helping them keep track of your content.
SEO titles are important for your page because they:
- can create a good first impression: A title tag is, often, the first thing a potential visitor will see in regards to one of your pages. As such, it will form the first impression of your content
- leverage brand recognition and identity: If your business is a familiar brand, displaying your brand name prominently in your title tag is beneficial to cement your identity. If you’re a growing business, doing the same is also beneficial because it boosts your brand recognition by exposing your brand name to searchers.
- provide context to users: SEO title tags tell searchers what content and information they can expect to find on your page. They are important for the search engines for the same reason, except that they also function to determine the relevancy of the web page as a result in a search query.
- are important for SEO: They also provide context to search engines and work to establish the page’s relevance in search query results. This way, Google and other search engines can make sense of your web page.
- entice clicks and grow your traffic: Unique title tags increase click-through rates by providing value to the interested audience. The steady influx of readers to your pages is an SEO signal due to which Google may award you with a better ranking position, further boosting your traffic.
What Are Best Practices Of Writing A Title Tag?
Before we get to the part explaining the secrets and techniques of writing an irresistible title tag, we need to cover some basic grounds.
These are the standard guidelines and best practices will ensure that your title tags are always relevant to both the readers and the search engines.
- Optimal length: It’s important to be concise in this regard not only for the description’s sake, but also for titles not to be truncated in the search results. Each page’s unique title tag should be between 50 and 60 characters long, although this is not set in stone because characters can vary in width and Google's display titles max out (currently) at 600 pixels.
- Optimal format: There are numerous opinions on the ideal format for the title tag. And while following this is not as important as taking care of the length and the content of the title tag, it’s not a bad idea to format your title tags like this:
- Primary Keyword - Secondary Keyword | Brand Name
- Optimal content: It cannot be stressed enough just how important it is for title tags to describe the page’s content accurately. Making a promise in your title tag that isn’t fulfilled on the linked page is a big “no” as it can damage your brand reputation and rankings. It will certain result in high bounce rates.
- Each page should have a unique SEO title: Unique title tags are important to boost each page’s SEO value and increase clickthroughs on search.
- Target the right keywords: When you define the primary keyword you want your content to rank for, make sure to include it in your title tag. This gives search engines more context and helps them identify the right keywords to rank you for.
- DON’T stuff keywords: Don’t insert keywords generically or add many of them to your title tag. Google’s algorithms are very sensitive to keyword stuffing and will detect it. This may result in the search engine changing the title of your page you have no control over or, worse, penalizing your website.
- Don’t use stop words: Avoid words such as “a”, “and”, “but”, “so”, “or”, “the”, “was” etc. to save the limited amount of characters for valuable terms.
How To Write Meta Tags That Drive More Clicks
Google has so far indexed hundreds of billions of website pages. Their data is currently over 100,000,000 GB large!
That is a mind-boggling amount of web pages and title tags to be up against.
So, how DO you get an upper hand in grabbing readers’ attention in such a crowd?
Following these seven steps for making your SEO tags particularly irresistible may do the trick.
1. Research Keywords To Understand Your Users’ Intent
You won’t be able to truly optimize your title tag and make it attractive for users until you understand what and how your audience is searching.
User intent tells you what the user is looking for when they are conducting a search query. It’s an identification of what the user intends to find online.
By knowing what phrases and keywords your audience uses you won’t need to guess what title tags to create.
You can look for keywords that are relevant to your pages and that people use the most. By aligning your title tags with them, searchers can get an immediate sense that they’ve found what they are looking for on your pages.
2. Emphasize Your Most Unique Values
You need to make the qualities and advantages of your content clear to potential visitors of your website with a title tag.
For example, if we have two pages selling the exact same item, but with different title tags:
- Cheap Slippers - Men’s Footwear | Brand
- Men's Beach Slippers on SALE - Worldwide Delivery | Brand
You will see that the latter example emphasizes the most unique values of the page by stressing out facts like “sale” and “worldwide delivery”.
Here are some of the qualities users value the most in content - and the ways to point them out in a title tag:
- Brand reputation: Consumers value brands they know and trust and are more likely to click on a search result that clearly indicates the brand name in the title tag. This convinces users that the page is trustworthy and reputable. If your business is at least somewhat popular in your niche, use your brand name in the title tag. Be careful where you place your brand name: it should always feature at the end of the title tag so as to prioritize the information your user is actually looking for.
- Brevity: Concise and to-the-point-content earns users’ attention in an era of information overload. You should consider marketing such content with words like “today”, “simple”, “quick”, “effective” and “now” in the SEO title tag.
- Thoroughness: As much as the speed of delivering the important points matters, users also value well-researched, thorough resources. You should signal such content to your audience by adding phrases such as “ultimate guide”, “complete”, “step by step”, “definitive” and so on to your title tag.
- Lists: List posts, such as Top 10s, are always very popular with the reader audience. When you create such content, always include a number in your title tag.
- Fresh and current articles: For a lot of users, up-to-date, current resources are the only ones valid. For such queries, outdated content from many years ago is never going to be popular with readers. Make sure you communicate the freshness of your content by adding “...of 20xx” or “...in 20xx”.
3. Use Action Words
A great method for enticing users to click on your page in search results is by using the so-called action words in your titles tags.
Action words are terms that express action and provide a promise of value to your readers.
Action words include:
Users are more motivated to click on search results that contain these words in title tags because they give a specific, actionable solution to their pain points.
For instance, if you use the word “get”, your title tag lets the user know that a service or instructions on achieving a goal awaits on the page. The term “learn” hints an educational opportunity.
A pro tip in this instance - which also works for any of these five steps for writing great title tags - would be to create a title tag that complements the information in the meta description so that potential readers get an even clearer idea of what to expect on your page.
4. Don’t Mislead Your Audience
It should go without saying, but your page’s content must always deliver on the promise a title tag makes and vice versa - your title tags must be honest about what’s on the page they’re for.
Creating titles and title tags that suggest “X actionable tips” for solving an issue and then failing to deliver those tips - or, worse, providing a sales pitch for product or service - can permanently damage a brand reputation and users’ trust.
You want your audience to believe you so that they would keep coming back for more of your content.
Avoid damaging your brand and inflating your bounce page rates by pointing out, in your title tag, exactly what your page is about - no more, no less.
5. Get Personal With Your Readers
When writing content and SEO tags, a third-person perspective can come across as unapproachable and cold. Fostering personal relationships with your audience and the feel of relatability in title tags can do great things for your click-through rates.
Personalized homepage promotions can impact up to 85% of consumers to buy, according to one research.
Another suggests that marketers who are personalizing their web experiences and who are able to quantify the improvement see, on average, a 19% uplift in sales.
Try to use pronouns such as “you”, “your” and “yours” in your meta tags, when the occasion allows. If your readers feel like you’re talking directly to them, they will be more enticed to click on your page in search results.
Plus, if you deliver on the promise in your title tag in which you addressed your audience directly, this will be hugely beneficial for boosting their trust in your brand.
6. Entice An Emotional Response With Your Readers
The goal of every meta tag is to create an irresistible urge in your potential website visitors to click on your page’s link.
Bold statements in title tags stir up curiosity and excitement. For instance, you could mention something that is contrary to a popular belief to generate a sense of wonder with the readers.
Using power words like “irresistible”, “revolutionary” or “impressive” or the so-called “curiosity gap” are some of the effective techniques of enticing curiosity and evoking emotion with your readers.
Of course, bold statements that create an emotional response should never be click-bait: there should be enough evidence in content to back the claim from the title tag.
Making an unexpected, emotional claim in your title tag - or, something that is expected, but with a twist - will give you a competitive edge over other content out there.
7. Front-load The Important Keywords
Some theories, which our experience confirms, suggest that placing keywords at the beginning of the title tag and headers helps search engines detect them more easily.
It also has to do with user experience and readers’ habits, because they usually just scan the first few words of a headline.
This is why, so they can know what your page is all about, it’s advisable to place the most unique aspect of the page first.
To illustrate this with an example, avoid templates for your title tags like:
- Brand Name | Secondary Keyword - Primary Keyword
Instead, go with the reverse and try:
- Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Brand Name
In addition, if search engines cut off a title like this, the most unique portion is the most likely to disappear.
How To Measure Whether Your SEO Title Tag Is Effective?
You can track the effectiveness of your title tag over time with Google Analytics and similar tools that provide metrics of your visitor’s website engagement.
A/B testing is very effective in this regard: set up two or more title tags for a single page and monitor their performance indicators such as CTRs, page dwell time and bounce rate and see which one performs the best.
This is an efficient method if you already have a title tag set up, although it is time-consuming because it requires gathering stats over prolonged periods.
But, how can you analyze your title tag before it’s even set?
For that, you can use one of these tools:
- WordPress SEO Yoast: A very popular plugin that helps websites rank higher. It has indicators that let you know whether your title tag is too short, too long or of optimal length as well as helpful hints for improving the SEO of your page.
- ToTheWeb: A tool that creates Google SERP snippet previews when creating and optimizing title tags. Just like Yoast, it lets you know whether page titles are of acceptable length.
- SEO Spider: A website crawler tool that analyzes and audits technical and on-site SEO elements such as title tags in real-time. It tracks title tags and identifies too short or too long titles as well as any pages with duplicate or missing content.
- RocketClicks’ Data Studio: A tool that measures the effectiveness of your title tag’s split test in a scalable way with Google Data Studio.
5 Examples Of Good SEO Title Tags
Simply looking at Google search results for a given keyword or topic with a critical eye can provide a great deal of insight into DOs and DON’Ts of title tag writing.
While there certainly are a lot of poor examples of this, here we present you with five very effective title tags and our reasoning for why they work.
Neil Patel’s title tag for a page on content marketing best practices tell you exactly what you will find on the page. It also retains the air of mystery by playing on readers’ curiosity which enhances the emotional impact of the title tag.
“Best exercises” is a very competitive keyword and is quite difficult to rank for. Active.com’s 7 Best Exercises for a Full-Body Workout page manages to do so despite big competition.
A concise title with only 53 characters tells the reader exactly what to expect. Note that the brand name is located at the very end of the SEO title.
When a user wishes to buy new trainers and shoes that are specifically by Nike, they are most likely to type in “Nike trainers and shoes” - and that primary keyphrase is precisely what this page delivers right at the beginning of the title tag.
It also uses separators to discern between items, a category and the website’s brand name.
Similar to the example above, Rank & Style’s page on men’s blazers uses keywords that users are most likely to resort to. It’s a list-based page, listing 10 items that are the best in their category, which is always a strong motivational factor for users to click.
DigitalSilk’s title tag for the crisis communication title tells you exactly what the reader will get on the page and promises a great education value. The title tag, complemented with the meta description, establishes the brand as an authority on the subject.
Takeaways On Writing Highly Efficient Title Tags
Even though it’s just a short line of text on search results pages, title tags are both extremely important for your website traffic and are difficult to write in a way that will entice the audience to click on it.
Firstly, think about the general best practices for writing SEO titles, such as:
- The correct length of 50-60 characters
- Using relevant keywords and placing them first
- Not making false claims about your page’s content
- Making each page on your website have a unique title tag
Then, it’s on to refining your title tag with a little bit of finesse, by:
- Using keywords that address the users’ intent
- Emphasizing your unique values and propositions
- Using action words
- Addressing your readers directly
- Looking to evoke an emotional response with your audience
Finally, it’s just as important to keep track of your title tags through A/B testing and trying out different variations with the help of metric tools and plugins.