One of the easiest, and most basic, on-page SEO steps is seemingly also one of the most overlooked and forgotten as well. We are referring to title tag optimization and in this post we are going to keep things short, simple and to the point to help you clean up your website’s most fundamental SEO element – its title tags.

Title Tag

What is a Title Tag?

Title tags, also known as title elements, are used to accurately represent the content of a web page. These title elements are found in the <head> of an HTML / XHTML document and play an important role in organic ranking and click through rates from search engine results.

Here are examples of what Title Tags look like….

In your code:

<head>
<title>This is My Title Tag</title>
</head>

In your browser:

Title Tag in a Browser

In a SERP (search engine results page):

Title Tag in a SERP

How to Optimize Title Tags

Everyday we come across websites that have failed to take a little time to properly optimize their websites. Believe it or not, we even come across online marketing agencies that don’t even have optimized title tags.

TIP: If you ever consider working with an online marketing agency that has not even optimized their own title tags then you can almost guarantee that you will get burned at some point in the future. Do your due diligence before hiring an SEO company by making sure that they have (1) optimized their own website and (2) rank for their own main phrases.

 

To even give your website a chance to rank well organically, and entice users to click on your search engine results, you must optimize your title tags. Here are some best practices to get you started:

Individuality and Relevance are Key

Each title tag should be different than any other title tag on your website, specifically the first words used in the title tag. Use your most important and appropriate key phrase at the front of your title tag. In other words, if you are optimizing your title tag for your web page about your Flower Delivery Service, then your title tag for that page should look something like this:

Los Angeles Flower Delivery Service | Company X Flowers

Length is Important

Limits have been put in place to keep search results simple and digestible. Instead of trying to cram a ton of keywords into your title tag, which does not help by the way, think about a smart, short title that clearly represents the page. Your title tags should be no more than 50-60 characters (including spaces). As a matter of fact, SEOMoz has found that really long title tags may be forcing Google to replace your title tag with their interpretation (something you don’t want).

In addition, we are noticing that pixel width is a factor. In other words, you can have a title with 100+ characters as long as the characters used are not wide. There is a great article on this from SEOMofo.

Think About Click Through Rate

It is important to remember that title tag optimization is not just about getting key phrases at the front, keeping them short and making them relevant. In addition to these things, you have to think about what is going to make someone who sees your search result want to actually click on it. Some ways to encourage click throughs are to:

  • Use actionable words (eg. “View Our Most Popular Flowers”)
  • Include your brand / company name to instill trust (eg. “Most Popular Mother’s Day Flowers from Company X Florist“)
  • Try to use the same key phrase in your title tag and meta description to get the search result to bold this key phrase, which helps with visibility and click through
  • Use separators ( | or – ) instead of cramming words together

Don’t Stop with Title Tags

The simple, actionable advice provided above is something that you or your webmaster can do for you with the proper planning. Go through each page of your website and make sure that your title tags meet the criteria outlined above. If not, then get started on your title tag optimization homework to give your website a chance to compete in the search engines.

Don’t stop with your title tags though. Other key, fundamental elements are just as important as your title tags in helping your website build its SEO value. If you’re not sure what these are and need help getting your website properly optimized with these best practices, or need assistance optimizing your title tags, then we would love to help.

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Vinny La Barbera

I’ve been working in online marketing since 2000 and have helped thousands of companies improve their online presence and grow their business through better web / mobile design, development and online marketing.Learn more about me or follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn.