A web page’s title tag is pretty important. Surprisingly, though, it’s often an afterthought — or not thought of at all.

What is a title tag?

Simply put, a title tag describes what a web page is about. It informs search engines, like Google, and, just as importantly, “human” readers.

To illustrate, here is a screenshot of how my Home page looks in a Google search. It reads Copywriter, copywriting services, Auckland.

Google-search

Interestingly, Google places my business name, Word Works, first. Why? I don’t know — apart from maybe Matt Cutts, I reckon no one knows entirely what Google is up to.

For this post, I spoke with SEO maven Mike Morgan of High Profile Enterprises. He too isn’t sure why Google sometimes puts a business’ name first (What did I tell you?). However, he suggests it’s probably about improving the reader’s experience, which has been Google’s focus for some time.

What do title tags do?Click To Tweet

Title tags are important from an SEO perspective and should include a web page’s primary keyword. For example, my Home page’s prime keyword is copywriter.

However, it seems just having a keyword in your title tag isn’t enough — several other elements must align.

Mike Morgan: “They [keywords] are only second in importance to the URL of a web page … title tags are completely useless if other elements, like the URL, H1 heading and content, don’t line up.”

The title tag, along with the accompanying meta description, is what people read to decide whether a web page is worth visiting, so it should be compelling.

How to write a website title tag

Title tags are limited to 512 pixels in length, which translates to about 56 characters including spaces. The number of characters allowed varies depending on which you choose because different characters differ in size. If your title tag is longer than 512 pixels, it will be truncated with ellipses at the end. Here’s an example:

Screenshot 2015-03-11 09.22.26

As space is limited, it makes sense to make the most of it. Mike says the web page’s prime keyword should come first followed by less important information, like business location and business name.

Title tags should be short, sharp and compelling,” says Mike. “The biggest challenge is aligning them to the page content — what is the page really about?

He says that where in the past title tags were written more for search engines, there has been a swing towards human readers in recent times. So, he believes a title tag should ideally be a complete phrase, rather than just separate words.

For example:

  • Copywriter│copywriting services Auckland (the old way)
  • A copywriter for web-content based in Auckland, NZ (the new way).

Do not duplicate

If your website has a lot of pages, it can be difficult to create unique title tags. However, it is important to make the effort. If you don't,  you make it harder for Google to distinguish between your pages and work out which search terms are relevant. Of course, you're making it harder for people, too.

Of all a website's SEO requirements, getting the title tags are right isn't hard, so put in the effort, and you will see the benefits.

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Meta descriptions: Why you need to get them right

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