It is no secret that there is a correct way to craft titles if you want to draw in more readers. The majority of websites and blogs find that “How To” and “Top 5 Ways” are titles that readers love to see (and love to click). However, it is important that webmasters realize this is not the only title and the only audience to consider. Although your readers should always come first, thinking about search engines and the titles that search engines see should come second. Believe it or not—Google will actually create alternative titles to the title that you have specified if the search engine feels your original title was not relevant enough to a certain search query. In other words, writing better page titles for search engines is extremely important.
How Page Titles Work in the Eyes of Google
Google’s goal with page titles is to help explain to users why that result is relevant to the user’s search query. Google uses the information you provide—Meta tags and description, SEO title, content, etc.—in order to help make sure that the title you provided will be valuable to readers. In the recent May update to Google’s algorithms, it was announced that there are three new criterions when determining how they display page titles:
- Alternative Title Generation Efficiency – Google has improved the efficiency of their title generation system. This is going to help create more focused titles and save in CPU usage.
- Avoid Boilerplate Copy – For those who are unfamiliar, boilerplate titles refer to titles that are long and similar with the exception of a word or two. A title such as “(company name) great low prices” is an example of a boilerplate title. Google has just recently begun putting more of an emphasis on this point.
- Automatic Alternative Title – This is the one area that usually surprises webmasters who are new to thinking about page titles. If your title is too long that it gets cutoff on a SERP, Google has algorithms in place to actually change your title to something shorter (but just as relevant).
Google takes page titles very seriously and has never been a fan of websites trying to create more than one long-tail keyword in a title. Your title should be short, to the point, yet descriptive enough for readers. If it is not, Google will take it upon themselves to help you fix it.
Why Great Page Titles Really Matter
When all is said and done, many webmasters have to stop and wonder why the title even really matters. Ironically, this question is exactly the reason that Google has made discussions about titles so important in the past few months. According to Bruce Clay, more and more webmasters are putting titles on the backburner because there are so many aspects of a website that seem to be a higher priority. However, proper titles do look good in the eyes of Google and the searcher.