How do I write effective HTML title tags?
In less competitive industries/markets, sometimes all that’s needed for first-page placement on key terms is a simple website with plenty of SEO content and… correctly labeled title tags! When done right, your page title tags (along with the META keywords and description tags) assist the search engines in properly indexing your content. On the other hand, if handled poorly or without thought, title tags can be one of your worst SEO enemies, causing your pages to either be misinterpreted or worse yet be thrown into duplicate content filters. Both of these things result in the search engines disregarding your pages when they consider the most relevant sites for the key phrases that are most important to your business. With so much riding on this 63 character HTML element, let’s make sure and get you off on the right foot with configuring your title tags. Here are some helpful SEO tips that will optimize those tags for you:
1. Be wary of the length of your title tags. On the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) of most of the major search engines, the title tag is used as the first line to identify your website. This line is typically in bold face, and hyperlinks to your site. Now all the search engines have different line character limits before they begin to truncate your title. That’s why it’s important to get the most vital keywords into the first 63 characters. There’s a good chance that everything after that will be replaced by ellipses.
2. Don’t put your corporate branding first. There are exceptions to many rules, and there is one in this case, but unless your company name is already extremely popular and competitive as a key phrase, there’s no reason to put your company branding first and foremost in your title tag. Best practice is to put the company name at the end of the title, after a dash. This way, your site has the best chances of being indexed for the actual key phrases that people are most likely to type into the search engines. And your pages will still get indexed for your company name, especially if it’s a unique one.
3. Prioritize your key phrases. For each page of content, which should be written to emphasize a main key phrase, and several secondary phrases, you should configure the tags to reinforce the importance of those phrases. Always place the most important key phrase, in the exact order that it is typed into the search engine, in the very front of your title tags. Then use commas to separate out the remaining key phrases that are relevant to this page of content, ordering them from most important to least.
(Note: Something that’s at least fun to consider with this is checking out your competition for specific key phrases. If you type in a phrase, and notice that your competition is showing up for that phrase, and all of their titles begin exactly the same, you may want to try and at least switch up the first key word so that when your page displays differently from the crowd. What usually works best is to add original content pages of all kinds of different variations of the phrases you want to show up for, so that increases your chances of having your page appear differently than the others in the SERP.)
4. Use synonyms and stems. The search engines are pretty smart these days. Most of them can equate “websites” with “site,” “sites,” “website,” “web pages,” and so on. So don’t be afraid to use stems of words or synonyms in the second half of your title tags. For example, you could use “car website” early on in your title tag, and then use “car site” later on. Definitely do a little research on your competition and see what synonyms and stems they are having success using, and then do some of your own experimentation. If you need help determining what search engines consider synonyms, Google actually has a cool feature built into it. If you place a tilde (~) in front of a search term, the SERP will return a page full of relevant sites with the synonyms highlighted.
5. Eliminate unnecessary words. Connectors like “the,” “for,” and “a” are disregarded by many search engines, so there’s no need to waste precious real estate in your title tags for them. Eliminate them wherever it makes sense to.
6. Don’t completely ignore formatting. In the end, the title tag is what searchers are going to see as the representation of your page. So when you’re finished considering all the previous tips, give your title a final look and see if there aren’t a couple of small formatting touches you can make to polish the look of the title up. Adding a colon or a connector here and there can make a comma-separated list of keywords look more like an ad, and will increase the chances that once you actually get on the first page, that someone will clickthrough to you.
If you utilize these tips to the fullest, and get plenty of practice, your content will be indexed properly, and will receive the best consideration by the search engines for placement in the SERP. Don’t forget to check out the other free SEO tips provided on BigSERP.Com, and don’t hesitate to contact us if you need professional assistance with optimizing your entire site’s title and META page tags.