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Title tags are a big deal. They are considered one of the most important factors that can influence your search engine rankings—so they’re for search engines. Title tags are also used as the clickable links that are shown in the actual search engine result, which can have a big influence on click-through rates—so they’re also for humans.
What exactly is a title tag?
Here’s what w3schools.com has to say about title tags:
“The <title> tag defines the title of the document.
The title element is required in all HTML/XHTML documents.
The title element:
- defines a title in the browser toolbar
- provides a title for the page when it is added to favorites
- displays a title for the page in search-engine results”
As the title of your document (Web page), your title tag needs to communicate effectively and efficiently to both humans and the search engines. After all, you only get 70 characters to let the world know exactly what your content is all about so don’t waste the opportunity to get it right.
What does the title tag look like?
As we mentioned above, the title tag is the clickable link that appears in the search engine results. See the example below for the search “dog toys”:
You will also notice that Google has bolded the text that matches the search query, which should lead to a higher click-through-rate.
Here’s what the source code looks like for the web page containing our example title tag:
<title>DogToys.com, Dog Toys, Puppy Toys, Kong, Greenies, Flexi, Pet Supplies</title>
How important is the title tag?
The title tag is considered to be one of the most important page-level SEO elements that can affect your search engine ranking. There are lots of different signals a title tag can send the search engines. For example, it is considered a best practice to include the search query you are trying to rank for in the title tag. The farther left you place the phrase in the title tag, the more relevant it is perceived by the search engines.
How should a title tag be written?
The “dog toys” example above is a title tag, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the best written title tag. There are a few best practices you should be aware of when writing your title tags.
- Lead with your most important keyword phrase.
- Don’t forget you are writing for humans, so make it compelling and readable. It’s not unlike a PPC ad in this regard.
- Don’t over-stuff it with lots of different keyword phrases. As you’re creating new pages or performing an SEO analysis of your current site content, focus on one main keyword phrase and work in a couple of secondary phrases if possible.
- Every title tag should be unique.
It’s not a bad idea to develop a SEO title tag formula that you will use site-wide for consistency. A title tag formula might look something like this:
[main keyword phrase] : [secondary keyword phrases] – [company name]
It’s important to note that the “company name” is added last. This is because it is less important and your goal should be to rank for your targeted keyword phrase. You will see this mistake being made a lot during your search engine travels. Don’t repeat it.
I hope we are all in agreement about SEO title tags being a very important part of your SEO strategy. Don’t just gloss over them. Put some thought into how you are going consistently write title tags that send relevant signals to the search engines. Come up with a plan. Come up with a repeatable formula.
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