The Dos and Don’ts of Writing Title Tags for SEO

A title tag is an important part of a webpage because this is what shows up on a Google SERP. When users skim down a Google SERP and look at the titles of all of the different articles and webpages, they are actually look at the title tags. These not only affect whether or not a user finds you interesting enough to click, but also it affects the way that Google looks at your webpage. Google bots can’t problem solve or make decisions; so it’s the job of the title tag (as well as a few other factors, which we will discuss later) to let the bots know what your article is about. This will help them index and rank your article correctly so that the most relevant users are seeing your webpage; thus giving you a better chance of a click.

Title Tag Basics

For those who are unfamiliar, a title tag is part of the Meta tag, which is part of the HTML code of your website. It’s as simple as that. Many people fill in Meta data without even realizing what the Meta data is actually used for, so it’s important to understand just why it’s so crucial to your business. The data is placed as what we call “tags.” There are three different things that are incorporated in Meta data: The title tag, the description, and keywords.

The title tag would appear inside the <head> area. For example, let’s say you were writing an article titled “The Dos and Don’ts of Writing Title Tags for SEO.” If you were looking at the HTML version of your site, or looking in the back end of your site at the code, you would see:

<title>The Dos and Don’ts of Writing Title Tags for SEO</title>

Now one thing that many people don’t realize about title tags is that Google has the power to change them. If Google thinks your title tag isn’t helpful to users, it can change it without your consent (and in most cases you probably won’t like it quite as much). The best thing you can do, however, is try to optimize your title tag so that Google won’t feel the need to change it. There is no guarantee, but it’s worth a try. The moral of the story: The content of a title tag is incredibly important to a reader, but it can’t hurt to make sure you’re formatting the tag for Google.

How to Make Sure Your Title Tag Delivers

  1. Do make sure it is a maximum of 65 characters, including spaces. This is pretty self-explanatory. If you write a title tag that’s too long, it will likely get cut off on a Google SERP and do you no good.
  2. Do consider using a title tag editor plugin. A plugin will help make sure that you’re following best title tag writing practices. I recommend SEO Yoast, but the All-In-One SEO Pack is also quite good. By utilizing an SEO plugin, you can type in a potential title tag, and then the plugin will remind you if you’re missing any optimization techniques (putting your keyword at the front, length, etc.).
  3. Do research keywords that are actually relevant. This should go without saying, but just as with content, many companies are still creating odd wordings in order to rank for an unrelated keyword. Google is getting better and better and detecting this, so just make sure you’re staying on point.
  4. Do put your exact keyword in your title, and put it at the beginning. Google likes to see the most important keywords at the very front of the title tag. With a little bit of creativity, this usually isn’t a very tall order.

What to Avoid when Writing a Title Tag for SEO

1. Do not separate words or phrases with commas, underscores, or dashes. Instead, use what we call “pipes.” For example, a title where I am trying to rank for the words “SEO Company” and “franchise.” Using pipes to separate these words would look like:

SEO Company | Franchise Services | Higher Visibility

Although this might not be the creative title you’re used to seeing on blogs, it’s a title that is incredibly optimized for Google (yet it still lets readers know what they can expect).

2. Do not keyword stuff. Once again, this is something that should go without saying. It seems that some companies think that a title tag is a loophole in the no-keyword-stuffing rule, but this isn’t the case. Google doesn’t like to see a keyword repeated over and over again, so it won’t help you to even try.

3. Do not use slang or any type of figurative language. You have to remember that Google bots cannot think the way that humans think. Using creative figures of speech will likely not get you indexed well by Google, and it likely won’t be a term that gets a lot of search volume. For example, if I had a title “How to Swim with the Big Industry Fishes,” search engines just won’t get it, and people aren’t going to search for “big industry fishes.” Therefore, it makes sense to make your title tag “Industry Leaders: How to Swim With the Big Fishes.” As you can see, I put a keyword in the front of the title that likely has more search volume and can be understood by Google.

4. Do not repeat title tags. Google hates repetition when it comes to title tags. If you’ve already written one title tag, make sure that the next one you write is unique. At the very least just think of a few synonyms and go from there.

The trickiest part of title tags is making it work for both users and bots. We all know that users should come first, but it’s hard to justify ignoring SEO when that is what brings users to your site in the first place. However, most do agree that once you understand title tags and get the hang of it, it’s easy to find that balance. It just takes practice!

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