how to write title tags

It’s an ongoing feud – satisfying both user intent and search engines. But if you understand how search engines work, you’ll realise that writing content ethically suited to SEO, will win over your users at the same time. The trick is simply understanding where users and SEO converge.

Learning how to write titles for users and search engines might not be the most fascinating topic when it comes to SEO or SEO copywriting, but it is definitely one of the most crucial elements of a properly-formatted page of optimised content. Getting this right can be the difference between a user clicking through to your website or simply scrolling past.

SEO Title Tag – Prime SEO Real Estate

When it comes to on-page SEO, the title tag should be your number one focus. As most of you know, this is what a user will see when they arrive on their search engine results pages (SERPs).

Writing the perfect title tag comes with many constraints, but you learn to work within them:

  • It should consist of a maximum of 60 characters with spaces
    • Too long and search results will chop the end off your title, preventing you from getting the full message across
    • Too short and it won’t be descriptive enough
  • It’s the perfect placement for your primary driving keyword or key phrase
    • Too many keywords and it will come across as stuffing
    • Too few and you could miss out on search engines picking up the piece of content for that term
  • It’s the ideal space to attract the attention that will drive action
  • It works in conjunction with the description to give context to what the page is about
  • It should be the perfect composition that encourages you to read more

You can check your word count in any word processing tool, but you can also use this nifty tool created by Moz to visually see what your title tag will look like in search results.

Writing Perfect SEO Titles – Getting Down To Business

Using your primary keyword or phrase in your title tag can be the most challenging part of learning how to write title tags. There are thought leaders that say that you should put the keywords as close to the beginning of the title tag as possible, however, this should never be at the risk of the entire tag not making sense.

SEO copywriting needs to flow, read properly, and it needs to engage your user as much as it will spark the alert of search engine spiders. Where possible, you need to describe a benefit of the proposed service, or at least a description of what users can expect to read about on the page they’re about to click through to. They want to know that there is value in it for them. It’s also a good idea to let them know who you are by inserting your brand name too.

So, wait a minute, I hear you saying. You need to include all of the following into your title tag:

  • The main driving keyword or phrase
  • A benefit or proposed value for the user
  • A description of what’s to come after clicking through
  • Your brand name, where possible

It sounds a tad ridiculous, but yes. If you can incorporate all of them into 60 characters, then you’ve struck gold. The middle two items on that list could combine to become the same thing. In the example I posted above, the title is simply “Does SEO Copywriting Still Work?” followed by my brand name. In this case, the keyword is “SEO Copywriting” and the value to the user is an answer to the question.

If a user is intrigued enough to type the question in Google, they assume that clicking through from this title tag will answer their question. Perhaps a more intriguing approach to this would be to replace the brand name with “We Find Out” or something similar.

Including brand names in your title tags is recommended unless you need character space to further the relevance of your title. Creating context and value for the title tag is more important than using that space to further amplify your brand. You will have plenty of opportunities to do that on other pages.

Last Minute Title Tag Tips

There are instances where Google will decide to display a different title tag to what you have created for yourself. Regardless of how meticulous your SEO content writing may be. This is usually because they think your chosen title tag is not relevant according to the page content. They extrapolate this information from your body copy and schema markup and display what they think is more persuasive. To prevent this from happening, ensure what you’ve written is the best possible version for your title tag.

Read over your title tag, and read over it again. There are a few other things you can look out for to ensure you’ve nailed the perfect symbiosis between what search engines look for and what users will click on.

  • Make sure your title tag is 100% unique to any other title on your website
  • Make sure your title tag is 100% relevant to the page content it is associated with
  • Don’t write it in all capitals, but choose either title case or sentence case. Stick with one option throughout your website for consistency
  • Where you’ve included your brand name, make sure it’s at the end of the title tag
  • Put yourself in your user’s shoes. Would you read this tag and click on it?

Once you’re absolutely certain you’ve done these 60 characters justice, publish, submit the new page to Google Search Console, share to your social media pages, and see if there is an uptake. It’s worth going through your title tags to ensure you’ve created title tag brilliance for every page on your site. Check your analytics to see which pages are not performing as strongly and give those that are lagging a facelift.

Final Thoughts

Title tags should be the most carefully considered piece of content that goes with your web page or article. Not only are they revered by Google and other search engines, but they could literally be the reason why your content never gets read.

On a more positive note… they could be the reason why users click-through to your website and discover all the magic you have to offer!

That’s worthy of a little effort, now, isn’t it?

Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash.

Katherine Stott
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