Not to be confused with headlines, a title tag is the welcome mat to any web page. If you write a good one, visitors will go inside without any problems. Write a bad one, though, and you might send them back home.
That’s because search engines like Google will look at the a page’s title to know what the content of the page is about. The title tag will also help determine which SEO keywords are the most important to that page.
Therefore, a concise, eye-catching, and keyword-rich title tag is one of the most important code elements you should master.
Sounds easy? Well, it is.
Trouble is (and that’s our little secret), a lot of SEO writers and entrepreneurs take title tags for granted. But you won’t. After all, they make a huge difference in the following aspects:
- How high you rank on search engines
- How many clicks you get
- How much you sell
- How much you convert
And so it goes…
If you’re one of those who never thought of “mere” title tags this way, surprise! You’re about to see them from a whole new angle.
But let’s start from the beginning, shall we?
What is a Title Tag?
Title tags appear in two places:
- They’re the clickable blue links you see during a search.
- They also appear in the tab on top of the browser window.
There’s one great thing about writing irresistible titles. Here it is:
Even though your page doesn’t show up in the top results, you have a higher chance of being clicked on.
Yes, even if you’re the 8th out of the first 10 results. And yes, even if your title tag isn’t filled with keywords.
If that doesn’t make sense to you, think of it this way:
A regular web browser (as in the person) isn’t thinking “hmmm…which of these results have the exact match keyword for my search?”.
Of course not.
In reality, what they’re thinking is: “which of these results can give me exactly what I want to buy/read/sign up for?”.
So don’t think “top”, here. Think about quality and about what your prospects want to see.
You’re competing with nine results, plus potential Google snippets and answer boxes. You have no excuses not to make your title tags irresistibly clickable.
QUICK TIP: You can view any web page’s title tag with a right click of your mouse, then click “view page source” and the whole code for that page will show up. The title tag is the little text between <title> and </title>.
If you’re using a Mac, you can view the code on Chrome just by pressing CTRL+U.
Tips to Write a Highly Converting Title Tag
Do Your Keyword Research
For those of you who can’t stand keyword research or simply ignore it…I’m sorry? I guess.
No, but really. Without keyword research, you’re basically trying your luck. Yes, it’s time-consuming, but it’s the cornerstone of any successful page out there. You can use SEO software like SEMrush and Moz to do it or use free keyword research alternatives.
The point is, you need to know what your audience is searching for before you can write anything.
From the title tag to the body copy of your website, the keywords you prioritize will tell Google what that page is talking about and whether it’s the best resource for your audience.
So yes, you should select a focus keyword for your title tag, as well as research a few related keywords. I’ll tell you why right now.
Make the Title Keyword-First (Without Stuffing!)
When relevant keywords come first, it’s much easier for search engines to scan that title and know what the page is about right away. So whenever you have the chance, slip that keyword in first.
By the way, a word about keywords:
When it comes to SEO, Google has gotten smarter over the years. It’s still not human-smart, though, so you need to give it a few hints.
That means a webpage doesn’t need to match a keyphrase exactly to make Google understand what that page entails. Here’s an example:
Let’s see what comes up when I Google “mat classes Portland”, assuming I’m looking to join pilates lessons in Portland, Oregon.
The exact keyword I used was “mat classes Portland”, but this studio showed up as the fifth result.
This studio probably offers mat classes and has used that keyword a few times within the overall content. But when it comes to the title tag, it still ranked just fine without the exact matched keyword.
You have much more leeway to use related keywords AND avoid keyword-stuffing.
If you’ve selected multiple keywords to work with, feel free to add more than one (if it doesn’t sound weird or stuffed). Keywords added smoothly = relevancy.
Here’s what you shouldn’t be doing:
That’s keyword stuffing right there.
Actually, this service made two fatal title tag mistakes. We’ll talk about the second in a few.
You see how this title tag sounds…truncated? Landscaping. Landscaper. Landscaping. This person probably tried to shove as many “relevant” keywords as possible in there. That doesn’t work for two reasons.
One, keyword stuffing looks bad and unnatural. You can tell when someone wrote something just for Google, not for their audience.
Two, that title tag could’ve been so much more creative and informational without all of those disconnected keywords. The writer could’ve offered something. Maybe added the brand name. ANYTHING but stuffing. Don’t do that.
Don’t Add Too Many Vertical Bars or Commas
I know, I know. It looks organized and you see it everywhere.
The thing is, too many separating elements aren’t that good.
First of all, when you write “|” to separate keywords or phrases, you’re wasting three characters. If you use it once, fine, perfect. But when people do THIS (and this is the second mistake):
They’ve wasted 6 characters they could’ve used to write something catchy. Such as FREE.
The same goes for commas. When correctly placed, one comma takes up two character spaces. Use them sparingly.
Here’s an example in which commas aren’t a sin:
This sounds natural. The commas aren’t detaching one word from another (like the vertical bars usually do).
There’s a main keyword, as well as related keywords and the brand’s name included. The character count is just right. Nice.
Stay Within the Character Limit
The right number you should go for varies between and a little over 55-60 characters, including spaces.
You have to be a little meticulous for this part. It takes a bit of work to get the count right and still add every information you need. What you want to avoid is the following:
This “…” is a deal-breaker. People would rather move on to another link than have to click on something they’re not sure about. They have countless other links to choose from. Don’t assume they’ll click to read what the rest of the sentence says.
Don’t let the character count go past 70, otherwise, the dot, dot, dot will ruin everything.
Also, that same title tag would convey the same message if it was written like this:
Pilates Mat Classes for Beginners + Mixed Level – Cisco Pilates
And that’s 63 characters.
Title tags aren’t the right place for long lines of text. Leave additional yet important information to the meta tag. It’s where you can go a bit (just a bit) more in-depth about the claims you’ve made in the title.
Add a Compelling Offer
Who can resist an offer?
There’s a reason why “free” is one of the most powerful words in copywriting. Everyone loves free stuff. If it’s not free, everyone loves a discount.
Here’s a nice example:
Side note: the first vertical bar could be replaced by a colon (:). But since it fits the character count just fine, the title tag looks okay. Plus, it’s done its job.
Which part of this title makes you pay attention? Of course it’s “save up to $50”. If none of the remaining nine title tags had any offer added to them, this one would be the winner.
If you have any special offer to make, save a special place for it. Whether that’s a free trial or a 25% discount, put it in there. Those words and numbers are what’s going to make people’s eyes focus.
Don’t make it a free week. Make it a FREE WEEK, all caps. Tell them how much they’ll save. Guarantee something. If you can deliver on those promises, you have a higher chance of getting more and more clicks.
Be Clear (and Clever) About What You Do or Sell
In short, don’t write for google only. Write for potential customers and readers.
People think that title tags should always be filled with bits of separate information. Probably because they see other people doing it and think that’s the rule.
Well, it’s not.
It’s much better when you can state something clearly and smoothly. You can use commas for that. You can and should use punctuation. But how can you do that without it sounding cut off and weird?
How can you tell potential visitors who you are and what you do/sell in less than 70 characters?
Take a look:
Not only is this a jewelry store, but it’s owned by seasoned jewelers. If someone’s looking for top-quality jewelry and they’ve landed on this link, they’ll almost certainly click on it.
That’s a smart move.
If you sell cruelty-free makeup, vegan-friendly clothing, or anything that makes your product stand out, add it. If you’ve worked in your field since 1960, add it. Additional and pertinent information is always welcome.
Choose the Best Format
When I say the best format, I’m not saying there’s a one-size-fits-all title tag format. It will depend on what type of business you run.
If you run a local business, for instance, it’s highly recommended that you add both city and state as a keyword in your title tag. This way, it’ll be much easier for local customers to find your page.
Check this one out:
This landscaping company did it right. They made sure to add that they serve Atlanta, Georgia, and selected their audience right away.
Of course, people outside of Atlanta will scroll right down, but who cares? The company owners are making money from Atlanta citizens who desperately need landscaping services.
Got it? Moving on.
Don’t get caught up on what the “order” of phrases should be. For instance, some titles have the business name in the beginning, others at the end. As long as you include it, you’re good to go.
But what about the “keyword first” chatter?
As you already know, placing your main keyword first makes it easier for Google. If you own a well-known business, it makes sense to place its name first. After all, your business’s name could be a keyword on its own.
You can also try and get creative. If you find that adding your company’s phone number is a good call (pun intended), then go for it.
Let’s say you run a brick and mortar business. If you feel like adding your address to the title tag will make customers find it more easily, do it!
The key is to stop doing what other websites are doing because you ran out of ideas. Every company is different. It’s about doing what performs better for YOUR business.
QUICK TIP: Is your business’ name a good keyword to target? To find out, it’s a good idea to learn which keywords you’re ranking for. This way, you’ll know if people search for your company by its name, or they just happen to land on it. Tools like SEMrush and Moz can help you with that.
Be Creative (For Blog Titles)
Like I said at the beginning of this post, a title tag isn’t a headline or an H1 tag.
The H1 or header will appear at the top of a blog post, while the title tag is the link you click on Google to visit that post. A lot of times, though, the headline will be the same as the title tag.
When it comes to creative titles, don’t even think about clickbait.
You can be creative and straightforward without being “baity”. What’s more, if your blog is known for clickbait, it’s over for you. No one will want to visit it ever again. Guess now you’re the bait, huh?
Anyway, there are countless ways to write a clickable blog title. As long as you add a main or related keyword and avoid blandness and baits, you have creative freedom to do it. You should keep the less-than-70-characters in mind, as well.
This study by BuzzSumo has analyzed 100 million headlines and found what the most viral ones had in common. This research is jam-packed with information and totally worth the read.
Don’t See Results? Try Again.
It’s not like you’re stuck with the same tagline forever.
A specific tagline isn’t converting? Try another one. Add some elements. Delete some. See what works and what doesn’t. Title tag writing is a matter of persistence, trial, and error.
I know that sounds a bit dramatic when talking about a title. But you’ll understand it once you start performing and selling better online.
And here’s also a few plugins to help you to improve your rankings