A crucial, yet often overlooked, key component in making a website great in search results is individual page titles. A great page title can make the difference in how you rank in search results and whether or not someone clicks on your site in those same results. It’s one of the most important pieces of real estate on any web page.
So how can you ensure that your page titles are the best that they can be?
What exactly is a web page title?
Just to be sure that we are talking about the same thing, a title on a web page is not always the title that appears on the page. Rather, the title is what appears in the
<title> tag on a web page. This is coded separately from the other text on the page, and some website systems, such as WordPress, take the name that you give a page and combine it with other elements, like your site title or business name. Your web developer can help you understand how titles work on your particular website and how you can set them.
What makes the title so important?
The title of a page often appears in so many places that it can be the first thing that others read on your website. For example, a web page title can be used in the following ways:
- displayed as the page title in search results
- displayed as the page title on social media when people share a page
- displayed as the page title in a browser’s tabs
- displayed as the page title in internet bookmarks
- used by search engines to help determine ranking
If page titles have this much exposure, it’s essential that each one is constructed carefully.
Not only do great titles help boost your SEO, they also can help persuade someone to click on your page versus a competitor’s in a search listing or in social media.
What makes a great page title?
Let’s take a quick look at a few of the common characteristics of effective page titles.
Great titles are short.
As on Twitter, where you need to convey meaning in 140 characters or fewer, titles are best left short. While there is no exact figure, most SEO experts recommend keeping titles to a maximum of 50 to 65 characters, including spaces. That’s not a lot of room, so choose your words carefully!
Great titles contain descriptive keywords and phrases.
When someone is searching online for “how to grow an organic garden” or “24 hour emergency plumber,” and you provide those services or information, it would be smart if those keywords (or something similar) are in the title of a web page that addresses those topics. The closer a title matches someone’s search, the better chance the page will be seen.
Great titles don’t start with the business name.
Unless you are a famous brand, such as Coca-Cola or Gucci, keeping your business name to the end of a title rather than at the beginning will serve you better. Think about it: When titles are shortened in search results or in browser tabs, only the first few words show. A title that starts “Organic Gardening Tips…” usually means more than “McKenzie’s Plant Center…”
Great titles are compelling and persuasive.
You only get one chance to make a first impression. Avoiding any keywords and phrases, as in “Amy’s Games: Home Page” (which happens more than you think), is a wasted opportunity. Likewise, going overboard with keywords and phrases can also be overkill and make no sense to a web searcher. Consider this title: “Role-Playing Games | Dungeons & Dragons | Strategy-Based Games | Collector’s Board Games | Playing Cards.” Trying to be all things to all people can overwhelm web searchers! Rather, the title should focus on the one particular need the page is trying to fill: “Fun Strategy Board Games for Families.”
Get started with your titles!
You can improve your website’s SEO and search listings, and you can attract more searchers to click onto your website through effective page titles. Keep them short, using appropriate keywords and phrases, and written in a compelling way, and you should soon see better results.