On-Page SEO: Optimizing Title Tags
Search engine optimization is a big and broad world – it encompasses everything from html structure to content creation. Today we’ll be looking at one element of on-page SEO work that can make a big difference – without a huge time investment: title tag optimization.
What are Title Tags?
Title tags are an element of your sites HTML that tells browsers, search engines, and social media the title of your web page. They are a part of your site’s meta-data and appear in the ‘head’ portion of your site’s code – that is the part that doesn’t get directly rendered in your browser when you access a site.
If you’re curious to check out title tags in their native habitat just right click on any webpage and select ‘show page source.’ This will bring up all the HTML behind the website – the title tag usually appears near the top and will be nested between the title and /title tags.
Title tags are important because they become the clickable link when your site appears in a search engine results page – and good title tags lead to more clicks. They also appear in the top bar of your browser when on the site and often are used when someone links to a site from social media (although there are also special meta tags for the major social networking sites). They also will influence the SEO of a page as they are used as a first step in determining content and relevance when a bot crawls your website.
Writing Title Tags
Because the title tags affect both your search engine ranking and user experience, it is important to get them optimized for both humans and bots. Many of the standard SEO rules apply to writing good title tags (keep it relevant, don’t over promise, don’t keyword stuff, etc.), but there are few title tag specific rules you should keep in mind:
- Keep it short: The industry standard is 50-60 characters per title tag. If you get too long you run the risk of Google cutting off your title and leaving it hanging with ellipses – which leads to a lower click-through-rate. The character count isn’t hard and fast because the search engines rely on a pixel count (around 600px), so keep letter size in mind. If you’re using a bunch of capital W’s, you’ll run out of space sooner than a handful of lowercase L’s.
- Punctuation: There was a time when punctuation was a big no-no in title tags, but that has changed over the last few years. However, it is still a good practice to minimize punctuation marks as they take up valuable space without providing meaningful content. The best punctuation mark to use is the ‘pipe’ (or vertical bar: |) because it takes up a very small amount of real estate. Commas and colons are also acceptable choices, but try to minimize their use whenever possible.
- Don’t Stuff Keywords: Nothing new but always worth repeating – don’t go keyword crazy on your title tags. You want important keywords to appear in your title tags but use natural language – just like you would with your website copy.
- First is Most Important: Put your most important keywords first, as they will receive the most search engine attention. A good general rule-of-thumb is to structure your title tags something like this: ‘Most Important Keyword | Second Keyword or Phrase | Company Name’. Your company name is important, but it will be feature in the URL and other places, so if something gets cut off – let it be your company name and not the keyword a user is searching for.
Optimizing title tags is just one piece of the on-page SEO puzzle (which is turn is just one part of the larger SEO puzzle), but the impact it can have is outsized in comparison to the work it takes to get them updated. If the SEO for your site is need of more than just a minor cleanup, a monthly SEO package from Fusion Group USA might be just the thing to turn your business around.
We offer monthly SEO packages that handle on-page optimization (meta-data, HTML structure, site architecture, content creation, and more) and off-page optimization (link building, social media reach, and more). Contact us today and we can set up a free site audit and provide an initial SEO consultation.