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How to Optimize Title Tags for SEO: 5 Helpful Tips

Title tags, also known as page titles, are fundamental HTML elements. SEOs typically focus on these items under the umbrella of on-page SEO.

But why are title tags important for SEO? How can they affect your website’s performance? And most importantly, how can you optimize your website’s title tags for SEO?

Read on to find out.

What is a Title Tag?

A title tag is an HTML element denoted by the <title> tag. It’s a key descriptor of a web page for humans and search engines.

Example of a title tag:

<title>My Awesome Web Page | AndrewBurd.com</title>

There are a few ways you can view a page’s title tag:

  • By viewing the page source or inspecting the page, which you can usually do by right-clicking on the page
  • By looking at the page tab in your web browser

Why Are Title Tags Important for SEO?

First and foremost, title tags are a ranking factor. While their impact on rankings is debatable, page titles are relatively easy and low-effort to optimize. That alone makes them worth your time.

Title tags are also crucial for your site’s presence on search engine results pages (SERPs). In many cases, Google pulls the title tag and displays it as the page’s title link.

The quality of your title links can directly impact your site’s organic clicks. The better and more enticing your title links are, the more traffic you’ll drive to your site.

Overall, title tags are essential for your site’s rankings, messaging, and click-through rate (CTR).

How to Optimize Title Tags for SEO

1. Use Keywords

The first step in title tag optimization is to include your target keyword. 

The target keyword (or keywords) is typically determined before content development begins. A keyword research tool can help if you still need ideas for keywords in your page title.

That said, it’s equally crucial to use keywords naturally and not overuse them. Doing so is keyword stuffing and can only harm your SEO efforts.

Example of a title tag with keyword stuffing:

<title>SEO Consultant | SEO Freelancer | SEO Expert | SEO Pro | AndrewBurd.com</title>

Example of a title tag with more natural keyword use:

<title>SEO Consultant for SMBs in PA | AndrewBurd.com</title>

2. Add Your Company Brand

Google recommends adding your brand to title tags. This is an effective way to increase your company’s presence on Google and other search engines.

This tactic also helps your pages’ rankings and CTR for branded terms. For example, the title tag below with branding may help a page rank for the query “Nike 5k running shoes for women.”

<title>Long Distance Running Shoes for Women | Nike</title>

Nike likely doesn’t need branding in their page title to rank highly for this term, but you get the idea.

Sites brand most (if not all) of their titles after the main descriptor and keywords. At the very least, include your branding on company-essential pages like your homepage, about page, team page, etc.

3. Include Actionable Terms

Page titles are an opportunity to drive users to your web page. Strong calls to action (CTAs) can increase your odds of a click.

Some CTAs you’ve likely seen on Google include “FREE CONSULTATION,” “APPLY ONLINE,” or “HOLIDAY SALE.” There’s a reason marketers use these buzzwords: they work.

Use these or other actionable phrases if they apply to your business. Any extra edge can help you get clicks over your competitors.

4. Don’t Make Them Too Short or Too Long

In the summer of 2021, Google became more aggressive with changing titles to display in the SERPs.

In this blog post, Google explained why this change was happening. They also explained that, besides title tags, Google looks at other elements to generate title links.

In a study of title tag rewrites, Cyrus Sheppard and Zyppy explained that Google may change a page title if it’s too long or too short. Possible changes include:

  • Truncation (i.e., cutting off a portion of the title in search results)
  • Pulling the text from another on-page element, such as a heading
  • Changing or rewriting part (or all) of the title tag

While it’s not an exact science, title tags under 30 or over 60 characters may be at risk for these issues. When possible, limit your page titles to 50-55 characters.

This character range may be difficult for sites with longer brand names or when writing a page title for a blog post. Removing filler words or condensing the key point can help if you face this issue.

5. Separate Terms and Branding

Imagine a paragraph with no punctuation—just a block of words with no breaks. It doesn’t sound very readable, does it?

Separating your page titles’ keywords and branding with vertical lines, dashes, or other separators has the same effect as punctuation in a paragraph. Your title becomes more readable and clickable.

Example of a page title with no separators:

<title>Technical SEO Audit SEO Consultant AndrewBurd.com</title>

Example of a page title with separators:

<title>Technical SEO Audit | SEO Consultant | AndrewBurd.com</title>

Conclusion

While not the flashiest element, title tags are important for your SEO. Optimizing them can help your site rank better, provide better messaging, and drive more clicks to your website.

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