There are many factors important in allowing sites to rank effectively. Quality of content, user signals and backlink profiles are just some of these factors. However, a major ranking factor that can often be overlooked is the HTML title tag. When implemented correctly they drive in extra traffic and alongside other HTML tags such as meta descriptions can drive other behaviour metrics such as click-through rates. Understanding what title tags actually are and the SEO best practice for using these can pose problems. That is why we have compiled a brief guide on what title tags are and the benefits these can provide for you.
What Are HTML Title Tags?
Title tags are html elements that specify the title of the corresponding web page. These are displayed on search engine result pages and are the clickable element for the search result, allowing you to continue through to the desired web page. They are an extremely important element of SEO, while also providing important usability and sharing implications. When implemented correctly it is effectively a short description of the web page. The first image below shows what a title tag will appear as to a user on the front end:
When we look at a web page title in the backend this is what we see:
What Is The Optimal Title Length?
Guidelines suggest Google will typically show the first 50-60 characters of your title tag. There are no exact limits character wise as various characters can differ in length. Research does suggest that if you keep your number of characters under 60 you can expect roughly 90% of your titles to display properly.
Why Are Title Tags Important?
Title tags provide many benefits and when implemented correctly can be crucial in your sites ability to rank effectively. Benefits include:
Click-through rate – your title tag is often the display title in search results pages and ultimately is the first thing a visitor will see for your site. Effective, concise, compelling title tags are crucial in encouraging people to click through your site.
Social sharing – social media sites often use a page title tag as what to display when the relevant URL is shared across social media. As above, make sure those title tags are effective, concise and compelling! Research has suggested that social signals effect rankings, the best performing sites contain vastly more social media signals. Various social media sites also allow you to optimise for their corresponding platform, this is worth thinking about when publishing your content!
Tab placement – in the tab section at the top of your browser a pages title will be displayed. If one has many pages open it is all too easy to lose track of what is where. Ensure your page titles are eye catching and keep the user engaged! User behaviour metrics such as the bounce rate and average session duration can impact rankings, even if these are indirect!
How Do I Write A Good Title?
Title length – keep your titles to the optimum length of about 50-60 characters and the chances of it being shown increase dramatically. Any longer and you run the risk of Google choosing the title for you, potentially impacting click-through rates.
Avoid Keyword Stuffing – although there are no direct penalties of keyword stuffing it does create bad user experiences and Google again considers adverse behaviour signals in its ranking.
Unique Titles – SEO best practice is containing different titles across each page. As titles are ranking factors, duplicated content will cause adverse effects as ultimately multiple pages will be competing on the same keywords. Keyword cannibalisation can be a killer!
Structure – research suggests including the most important keyword for the page at the start of the title will result in better rankings. Generally people also read the start of a title first so it is important to get the theme of the page outlined immediately.
Of course there are many ranking factors and that is why it is important to not just focus on any one area. Well rounded strategies that encompass multiple aspects of digital marketing are crucial!
Digital Account Executive at US Digital with an avid interest in SEO and all things Digital Marketing. I’ll be updating you with any news on Google Algorithms and latest technology updates.