Title Tags in 4 Easy Steps

ThriveHive's Title Tags as seen in Google’s resultsTitle tags are probably the single most important element on a web page when it comes to optimizing for search engines.  The title tag controls the text that shows in the top of your web browser window, as well as the title listed in the organic search results.  The title tells both the search engines and the users what the page is about, so you need to make sure you’re writing for both man and machine.  Here are four things to focus on to help you write killer titles.

1. Keywords

Since your titles are telling people and search engines what your page is about, it’s a good time to include some keywords you want to rank well for.  Make sure the keywords you use are relevant to your business as well as to that particular page (to get keyword ideas for a particular page of content read how to use word clouds for SEO).  Avoid using keyword phrases that are only one or two words – three to four word phrases are much easier to rank well for in the search results.

2. Format

Now that you know which keyword phrases you want to use, it’s time to start putting your titles together.  We recommend putting the most important keywords towards the front of your title, followed by the name of your business.  We recommend you separate your keywords and your business name by a “|” otherwise known as a pipe.  It may look like a lower case L or a capital I, but it’s actually the character you get when you press Shift and \.  An example of this format is our own homepage, which uses the title “Small Business Marketing Made Simple | ThriveHive” Notice that the beginning of the title is made up of great keywords, and we follow it with our brand name.

If you’re using a CMS system to manage the content of your site, there’s typically a place for you to type in the titles for each page.  If you’re editing HTML code, your titles should be wrapped in <title> and </title> tags in the <head> section of your pages.

3. Length

We know you’d love to include a ton of keywords in your titles, but you need to keep them relatively short.  The search engines only have so much room to display a title, and the amount of room your title tag depends on various factors such as font type and how many capital letters your title is made up of. Why? Different fonts have varying widths and capital letters take up more space than than lowercase letters. Although hard to say what the optimal number of characters is for titles, a study by SEO Moz shows that the title tag cutoffs occur at 57-58 characters so it’s best to stay within those limits.  Can you go over? Sure, but your title will get cut off by the search engines and will end with a “…”, and that just looks sloppy for your users.  Don’t keep it too short though, make the most of them!

4. Variation

Each page on your site has unique content, and so should your titles.  Since every page has something different on it, the keyword phrases you use in your titles should reflect what’s on that particular page.  This means writing separate title tags for each and every page on your site.  This helps the search engines see how your site is organized and which pages might be most relevant to a particular search.

There you have it, everything you need to write perfectly optimized title tags for your site.  If you have a smaller site, you could probably optimize them all in an afternoon.  If you have a larger site, start with your most important pages first, and then work your way through the rest of the site at your pace.  Before you know it, you’ll start seeing your shiny new titles in the search results.  Now that you’ve done some optimization of your titles you might want to start working on increasing your web traffic and reducing bounce rate – check out our post on how to create engaging content for your website.

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