The title tag is the one of the simplest, yet quite possibly most important aspect of on-page SEO. The format for writing a title tag in HTML is as follows:
<title>Your Keyword | Name of Your Company</title> or <title>Key Phrase Example | Category | Name of Company</title>
The title of the website is not only an important factor because it is the title of that page, but it is usually what is displayed in the search results as well.
We recommend that title tags be 50-70 characters or about 512pixels in length, which is the exact width of the Google search results.
But why did SEO’s start measuringtitle tags in pixels? In 2014 some changes were made to the search engine results page layout that really made SEO’s stop and think about the way they were measuring title tags and meta descriptions. Since then, a new standard has been set and mostly all SEO’s are measuring in pixels instead of characters:
Another caveat of title tag optimization is that the title tag of a website is used by a lot of different devices, browsers, apps, and more. For instance most web browsers use the website title tag as the browser title as well. You can see in this example how even the New York Times homepage stretches beyond my browser tab.
While this isn’t really a direct ranking factor for SEO, it is something to keep in mind as an internet marketer. When a visitor has 20 tabs open and they are scanning to see which one is which, you want to be able to help them find the one they are looking for. This is yet another reason to write title tags geared towards users, not search engines.
It should go without saying that you should always try to create unique title tags for each page. Always avoid using the same title tag across multiple pages, even if you are tempted. Also just because 512pixels is the maximum length, doesn’t mean you should use it every time.
Also avoid using vague title tags such as “our homepage” or “untitled.” Remember, Google tends to index pages really quickly so whatever choice you make for your title tags might be semi-permanent.
Try to put the most important keywords or the keywords you are trying to rank for at the beginning of the title tag. Several official and unofficial studies have been done on title tags that have shown the closer to the beginning that they keyword is, the more important and relevant Google considers the keyword.
As your website matures, we recommend doing a full title tag analysis on your website. By doing a title tag analysis on your website for SEO, it accomplishes a few things:
Without a doubt our favorite tool for title tag analysis is Screaming Frog. Screaming Frog has a wealth of powerful features but one of our favorite features is being able to see the entire websites title tag structure at a quick glance.
Let’s take a look at an example page. In this scenario, you are an SEO working for Best Buy and your job is to write title tags for this site:
Now let’s look at the title tag that displays in the search results:
Within the code, the title tag displays as such:
<title>LifeProof FRE Hard Case for Apple iPhone 6 Black 77-50304 - Best Buy</title>
Although this title tag is only 68 characters, it is still too long for Google search results henceforth, it is truncated by Google and ended with an ellipse or “….” As an SEO, how would you handle this scenario? Would you leave the title tag the same? Is it optimized for their keyword? Are they stuffing too many keywords into it?
Really, there is no one right answer. If I polled 5 SEO’s I would get 5 different answers, and all of them could theoretically be correct.
Remember SEO stands for search engine optimization, not search engine perfection. Do your best, stick to the best practices and your site will be a shining example of quality.
If you’ve been reading a lot of SEO tutorials in 2015 you might have come across a number of other uses of the word “title tags.” Primarily the main use of this word is the <title> contained within the head of the website but there are a few more “titles” that have come on the SEO scene that we should mention.
Both Facebook and Twitter have developed their own system for displaying previews within their respective social networks. In both cases they have their own “title tags” that also must be optimized and have their own specifications.
You can read more about them in our structured data section of this tutorial. Enjoy!