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Title Tag

Last updated: October 29, 2021

By definition, a title tag ( also called meta title) is the page title that is inserted as code in the HTML head. The Title Tag is displayed in the browser title bar and in the search engine result page ( called SERP). It is also used from time to time as a title for content shared on social networks.

For OnPage optimization, it is the most important ranking factor of all. Therefore, you should always make sure that the Meta Title encourages clicks and contains the main keyword.

Definition | What is a Title Tag?
Other names: Meta Title, Title Tag, Meta Title, SEO Page Title, SEO Title, Page Title
Length: approx. 50-60 characters (max. 600 pixels)
Wording: Keyword optimized, meaningful, attractive, unique
Avoid: keyword stuffing, too long or too short title tags
Tools for optimization: Sistrix SERP snippet generator, Rank Math, Yoast SEO,Google Search Console

The perfect Title Tag for Google SEO

Optimizing the title tags on your own website is a classic quick win and easily achievable even for SEO beginners. With little effort, you can achieve the first results in terms of OnPage optimization. The prerequisite is to determine a focus keyword per page, to put yourself in the users' shoes and to follow a clear structure for the title tags.

In this video by AHREFS you will learn the basics of title element optimization:


The following is 7 points checklist for optimizing title tags for search engine and usability goals:

  1. Pay attention to the length of your title tag.
  2. Start your title with the most important keyword, also called focus keyword.
  3. Use different formats for different keyword types.
  4. Write an SEO Title that is attractive to users.
  5. Every page needs a unique meta title.
  6. Do not overdo it with keywords.
  7. Use your brand at the end of the title.

 

Optimal format for a title tag

It is recommended to have a structure where the main keyword is at the beginning of the title if possible. In addition, variations of the keyword should appear. If there is still space left at the end, it is a good idea for brands to include the brand name at the end of the title tag. Gimmicks like keyword stuffing or repeated words don't pay off nowadays. Instead, the title tag should be catchy and meaningful.

Primary Keyword: Long-tail / Secondary Keyword | Brand
An example of a professional and search engine optimized meta title.
Further examples for the structure of the meta title according to keyword type

Informational Keyword, e.g. what is SEO

image of a SERP for "what is SEO"

Meta Title: What is SEO? / Search Engine Optimization

What is the ideal length for a title tag?

The ideal length for a Title Tag is between 50 and 60 characters.

Google usually displays the first 50 to 60 characters of a Title Tag. If you keep your Meta Title under 60 chars, you can expect about 85% of titles to display as you put ity. There is not an exact character limit, the characters with can vary and SEO Titles are limited to a maximum of 600 pixels for display.

There is no penalty for Title elements that are too long. However, Google shortens sensitively, so that under certain circumstances important words are cut off. By the way: ‘Brevity is the spice of life' is only conditionally valid here. If a title tag contains less than 15 characters, Google thinks that the page is not relevant.

Some characters need more space than others

A ‘W' is wider than a narrow, discreet ‘i' for example. It's better not to use title tags that are all uppercase. Otherwise, you'll be depriving yourself of valuable space resources and this format will look dubious and “spammy”.

Tools to check the length and preview it

The length of the title tag should be checked in advance with an SEO tool such as https://app.sistrix.com/en/serp-snippet-generator. With the Rank Math SEO Tool you can check the length right in the backend of your CMS.

Mobile search results vs. desktop search results on Title tags

Between 50 and 60 characters are available on average for the desktop version. On mobile devices, there are about 7-8 characters more, which are also displayed in the second line if required. Since you have to deliver the same title tag for mobile and desktop, you will unfortunately have to choose the shorter one. We recommend targeting around 55 characters to stay in the golden mean.

Keyword optimization in meta titles

Keywords play an important role for your Meta Title. However, the focus is always on the user experience. Over-optimized titles will not be clicked on, so keyword stuffing is an absolute no-go for your title elements.

The main keyword should appear in the title tag in exact spelling and preferably in the first place, in order to make its relevance clear. As already mentioned, long-tail variations can be a real enrichment and ensure that the page or URL ranks for a larger number of keywords.

Otherwise, everything that improves the click-through rate has a place next to the keyword. For example, if you want to rank better in local search results, you should optimize your title tags for your local keywords and possibly even expand them to include the region.
Keyword-optimized meta titles are also quite crucial for local search engine optimization.

local search for SEo Halifax - image from the title tag
Uniqueness of the title tag is important

Every sub-page deserves its own Title element, lovingly crafted to provide a good description. Because let's face it, who would want to click on a Title element like “New Page” or “Product Overview”. No one, right?

If the Meta Title is identical on several pages, this will also be thrown out as an error in Googles Search Console. So Google doesn't want duplicate title tags.

Expert tip

The search for a meaningful and informative Title Tag is worthwhile for every website. You should invest a lot of time here because this is the user's first touch point with your brand. We invest between 10 to 15 minutes for a single Google Snippet. This includes the title tag and the meta description.

 

Increase click-through rate with optimizes title tags

According to a study by HubSpot and Outbrain that analyzed 3.3 million headlines, titles with round and square brackets generate 38% more clicks than titles without round and square brackets.

According to the study's authors, brackets give potential readers a clearer picture of what's behind the headline. We also know from our own experience that users like to know in advance what to expect and what content format it is, e.g. video, interview, step-by-step guide, comprehensive guide.

For this reason, you should look at the search results for your main keyword before writing your meta title. If you see that all top 5 ranked pages have a specific keyword built into the title tag (e.g. tutorial, guide, guidebook, tips, …) you should take this into account.

You can also learn a thing or two from Google Ads. Anyone who runs Google Ads knows how important the click-through rate (CTR) is for good performance. Accordingly, the wording in the ads is optimized for a high CTR.

If a company is a registered trademark, the potential of a ® can be used – so the click-through rate is additionally increased.

The importance of page titles on the Internet

Why go to all that trouble again (even if it's quite manageable)? It is indispensable for several reasons:

Page title as a Ranking factor

The title tag is an important ranking factor. I would even call it the most important OnPage factor. Search engines like Google and Bing analyze content according to the title element.

User experience

The first contact users have with a website is through the Meta Title. And so it becomes an all-important factor: will someone choose your website from the search results, or will they choose a competitor?

Web browser

The Title Tag is displayed at the top of the web browser, among other things, and is essential for people who work with a lot of browser tabs open.

Social networks

Social networks use the title tag to determine what to display when the page is shared on their platform.

Don't forget that some social networks (including Facebook and Twitter) have their own meta tags. These allow you to specify titles that are different from the normal meta title. This allows you to provide the perfectly optimized title for each platform.

If users don't click on your page in the search results, it doesn't matter if you are in the front of Google.

Tips if Google does not use your title tag

It may happen that Google displays a title that does not match your title tag. This is annoying, but there isn't always a perfect way to force Google to use the title you've written.

Search Intent

If your page matches the search intent, but the title tag doesn't reflect that well, Google may reword the title. This isn't a bad thing, as no title will match every search imaginable. For very specific search queries, so-called long-tail-keywords, this phenomenon is quite normal!

But if your title tag is being overwritten for desirable search queries, you should rewrite it to match those search terms better and their intent.

Keyword Stuffing

If you include an excessive amount of keywords in your meta title (also known as “over optimization”), Google rewrite the title tag. In such a case, you should reduce the number of keywords and pay more attention to writing a title for real users.

Helpful Google SEO tools for page title optimization

We use these tools every day at our SEO agency:

Rank Math SEO Tool
Sistrix' SERP-Snippet-Generator
Yoast SEO for WP

All these tools provide a preview of the title tag in the search results. They also give feedback on keyword optimization and inform you if the length is correct.

At this point, the Snippet Generator from Sistrix must be highlighted above all. The snippet generator also allows you to expand the preview with information such as the date or a rich snippet. Furthermore, the tool already offers a nice selection of special characters that are actually displayed in the Google search results.

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