Title Tag Optimization Best Practices

The Title tag is one of the most important (if not the most important) elements of the on-site optimization, which search engines consider when ranking websites. For those of you who are unfamiliar of what a Title tag is, let’s illustrate a quick example and how this relates to the search engine optimization and how to get the most out of this important element. If you type in “gemstone jewelry” in Google, the Angara jewelry website shows up number one for this phrase. The Title text “Gemstone Jewelry – Rings, Earrings, Pendants, Engagement Rings” (See Fig.3.1) comes from the Title tag in the html code which I will show you shortly.

gemstone jewlery

(Figure 3.1)

If you click on this listing you can also see this Title on top of the browser window (See Fig.3.2).

gemstone rings

(Figure 3.2)

If you click on “view” on the top of the browser window (in this case Firefox) and select “page source”, you will see all the programming html code that makes up this webpage (Fig.3.3 and 3.4).

(Figure 3.3)

The Title tag should be placed within the header tags on the top of the page. As you can see, the Title text that you saw in the SERPs “Gemstone Jewelry – Rings, Earrings, Pendants, Engagement Rings” shows up right here (See Fig.3.4).

(Figure 3.4)

When you optimize your Title tags, it’s important that you focus on the most important keyword phrases as early on as possible. From my experiments, this strategy seems to carry more keyword weight, which results in higher rankings for the keyword phrases you want to optimize for. Some companies include their brand name here, but I would only use this if you are a well-known company/public figure or include it at the end of the Title tag.

The Title Tag is Your Most Important “Real Estate” Space on Your Website

What you put in the Title tag tells Google and the other search engines what this page is all about, so this is your most important and valuable “real estate space” for your web page. It lays a foundation of the overall theme of the page. You simply cannot afford to omit it, make duplicate Titles for all your pages on your whole website, waste space here by mentioning other words like welcome or any other words that have little or no meaning. I have seen lots of websites wasting lots of their “Title real estate space” and therefore cutting themselves out of potential rankings and traffic. I have also seen websites, which uses 2-3 Title tags on one page. This is also something you want to stay away from as this would be considering spamming the search engines.

The Importance of a High Click-Throughs in the SERPs

Keep in mind to be concise and capture the user’s attention and interest, to boost your click through ratio on the SERPs. Your website competes with 10 others in the organic results, sponsored listings (from Google Adwords) and Google Maps.

If your listing has a high click through ratio and the user stays on your website for some time, it will indicate to Google that this particular website is useful, high quality and relevant for the user. It‘s not 100% confirmed, but there is strong evidence that Google measures this into their ranking algorithms. Why wouldn’t they want to give those kinds of websites high visibility? The Google Adwords program currently use click through data as part of their ranking algorithm.

Title Character Length – Don’t Allow Your Title to Get Truncated

Try to keep the Title tag within 70 characters including white space to avoid Google cutting out part of it (See Fig.3.5). This does not mean that Google does not count characters after 70 in their rankings, but it’s safe to assume that any keyword phrase appearing after 70 characters will have much less relevance compared to the keyword phrases in the beginning.

Figure 3.5

Do Not Spam the Title Tag with Keywords

Please keep in mind not to spam the Title tag by repeating the same term over and over as this will affect your click throughs in the SERPS negatively. You should incorporate your selected keywords preferably into a useful phrase and/or use a hyphen sign (–) or the pipe bar (|). These will break up the words or phrases to make it more user friendly. Whether you place the hyphen or the pipe bar is a personal preference, as these do not play a factor into the ranking algorithms.

When incorporating your main phrases in the Title, look out for good keyword combinations that these phrases can generate. For example, let’s say you are running a luxury hotel in Hawaii by the beach and for the main page (a.k.a. home page) you want to show up higher for the 2 phrases: “Hawaii luxury hotel” and “vacation in Hawaii”, where “Hawaii luxury hotel” would be the number one priority and then “vacation in Hawaii” would be the second most important. Although there is no such thing as a perfect Title tag, an effective one could look something like this:

<Title>Hawaii Luxury Hotel – Dream Vacation in Hawaii on the Beach, Book Now!</Title>

Note that I have capitalized the first letter the most important keyword phrases to make it stand out and also included the action word “book now” to boost the CTR. What you also notice is that I have included the keywords “dream”, “beach” and the action word “book now”. This will increase your chanced to also show up high in Google for “Hawaii beach hotel” and possibly also for “dream hotel Hawaii” and also “book hotel Hawaii” or variations of them as the search engines combine the keyword phrases.

Singular or Plural Version?

In some scenarios, you may come up with keyword phrases that could potentially be both in singular and plural, which usually yields different results in Google’s SERPS. My recommendation would be to use the plural version as you would then cover both the singular and the plural version of it. But this is also a case by case thing, as using plural on certain phrases may not sound very accurate. Lastly, before constructing your Titles, I would first write the content on your web pages to see what kind of Title would be the most appropriate.

About The Author

Johan Hedin is a 14 years experienced SEO veteran and the Managing Director at Marketing Ignite, which is an online marketing company based in Bangkok, Thailand. He has managed over 200 online marketing projects with his team, where all clients have gained top rankings in Google. He has also created The Professional’s Training Course in SEO, which teaches anyone how to gain top rankings in Google.
Because of the low operating cost in Thailand, they also offer high quality but affordable white label SEO solutions

Connect with Johan Facebook | LinkedIn | Website

9 Response to Title Tag Optimization Best Practices

  1. Obaidul Haque on March 10, 2012

    Titles have always played an important role in SEO. Today, attractive and unique title tags are much more in demand. It’s vital to understand that unique title tags don’t only help you site rank higher, but they also help you increase the click-throughs and conversions.

    I think every simgle web page on your site is a different salesperson. You should never try to include several keywords or phrases on the same page. The best idea is to create different pages with different set of keywords. It’s about time we paid serious attention to writing title tags that convert.

    Thanks for reminding us of all these best practices.

  2. Alex@Broadband Forum on March 11, 2012

    Great to have an article covering the basics and reminding us that no matter what other link building and SEO tricks you have, if you don’t get the basics right then nothing else matters. Thanks

  3. Rahman @ Travel Marketing Blog on March 12, 2012

    Wow! I would have called this the anatomy of Title Tags! Very insightful! I just have one point to add:

    As each page of a site is supposed to be different, it must have a different name. So, even the well-known brands should not use the name of their companies there. Otherwise, it would mean that all the pages are the same! Each page must have unique and different content. Such content should have its uniquer name too.

    Rahman Mehraby
    Travel Marketing Blog

  4. Thomas Frost on March 12, 2012

    I see more and more sites using special characters like arrows to stand out in the SERPS, I have not done any testing myself yet, but I know some of my fellow SEO´s have, with good results.

  5. Felicia @ No Deposit Poker on March 13, 2012

    Titles, in many articles, are what makes them interesting to read in the first place. I basically know what a title tag is and how it works, but on the proper ways to execute SEO with it such as not allowing a title to get truncated, I was glad I learned some new tips. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Dom @Elevate on March 15, 2012

    I tend to only use pipes when applying a brand at the end of the title tag. Pipes can look real ugly especially when splitting up quite a few target keywords. I use colons, commas, full stops wherever possible instead – trying to make them look a little more natural. Informative post thanks Rohan.

  7. Johan on March 16, 2012

    Thanks for those input guys. I do think that crafting good looking and attention grabbing SEO titles is super important for the CTR of you website. In many industries the results are filled with adwords as well so you are competing with lots of various ads, google places, serps, videos etc…Keep up the good work guys :-)

  8. Felicia @ No Deposit Poker on April 1, 2012

    Another great thing I learned in this post is that do not spam the title tag with keywords. I have no idea that using hyphens or the pipe bar will make words or phrases become more user friendly.

  9. Neil@Web Design Sydney on April 2, 2012

    Hi Johan,

    You always need to get a balance between the SEO aspect and the marketing aspect. If you overdo the SEO then you may get better rankings but not actually get any click throughs. I like the idea of putting the action words in the title to increase your CTR.

    These days I try to keep my titles down to around a max of 50-60 characters as the shorter titles seem to get better results.

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