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Are Title Tags A Google Ranking Factor?

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Are Title Tags A Google Ranking Factor?


As the most visible component of Google’s search results pages (SERPs), page titles are thought to carry significant weight as a ranking factor.

Is it possible to overvalue the impact of your title tags when it comes to improving search rankings?

There’s little doubt Google’s algorithm takes page titles into consideration.

The questions around page titles are:

  • The extent to which title tags are valued.
  • And how much they matter to the bigger picture of a website’s search optimization.

In this piece, we aim to answer those questions by investigating various claims and looking at on-the-record statements from Google.

The Claim: Title Tags Are A Ranking Factor

A page title is the text that appears in the <title> tag within the <head> element of an HTML document.

When conducting a Google search, page titles are the largest and most visible element of a search snippet.

A page’s title also appears in the browser tab after clicking through on a search result.

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The prominence of page titles in Google SERPs has led to persistent claims that they’re a strongly weighted ranking factor.

Is it possible these claims are overblown?

The Evidence For Title Tags As A Ranking Factor

Google unquestionably uses the HTML title tag to understand what pages are about so it can rank them in search results.

The company’s official SEO starter guide recommends unique, accurate, and brief but descriptive titles on all pages of a website.

But when it comes to the strength of page titles as a ranking factor, evidence suggests they’re only a mild signal.

Google’s John Mueller has stated that page titles are not critical for rankings, at least compared to the main content:

“We do use [the title tag] for ranking, but it’s not the most critical part of a page. So it’s not worthwhile filling it with keywords to kind of hope that it works that way.”

Mueller goes on to clarify that page titles are important for SEO and they are a ranking factor.

However, they’re not so critical that overhauling a site’s page titles will lead to a significant difference in ranking positions. He said:

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“Titles are important! They are important for SEO. They are used as a ranking factor. Of course, they are definitely used as a ranking factor, but it is not something where I’d say the time you spend on tweaking the title is really the best use of your time.”

Mueller addressed this again on another occasion, reiterating that page titles help Google understand what a page is about but are not critical to determining rankings.

“… if you’re talking about ranking changes so strong that you’re seeing them overall, then I think just tweaking titles and meta tags are not going to give you what you’re looking for. Tweaking titles and meta tags makes it easier for us to recognize what is actually on a page, but it’s not going to change the overall visibility of the website significantly.”

With all this taken into consideration, it’s clear that page titles remain important for SEO.

But in the hierarchy of today’s ranking factors, title tags are nowhere near the top.

Title Tags As A Ranking Factor: Our Verdict

Page titles are a confirmed Google ranking factor, with evidence suggesting the strength ranges from mild to moderate.

The title tag is a tool for communicating to Google what a page is about.

It helps crawlers understand what category the page fits into and which queries it may be able to answer.

From there, Google uses more critical factors such as the main content to determine a page’s rankings.

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To be sure, it’s worth taking the time to write out titles for every page.

Websites can struggle to gain any ground in search results without unique page titles as a bare minimum optimization.


Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

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SEO

Search Engine Journal Promotes Miranda Miller To Senior Managing Editor

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Search Engine Journal Promotes Miranda Miller To Senior Managing Editor

It is with tremendous pride and excitement that I announce the promotion of Miranda Miller, an editorial and content strategy champion, to Senior Managing Editor.

While this promotion actually happened in January, having recently joined SEJ myself, I wanted to celebrate Miranda’s growth and leadership within the organization.

In this role, her areas of ownership will include core elements of SEJ’s editorial operations in this advanced role, including its rich educational and evergreen content.

“The word that comes to mind is blossom,” said Jenise Uehara, CEO of SEJ’s parent company Alpha Brand Media.

”Miranda dove into organizational management, cross-department collaboration, and business process design, while also tackling inefficiencies and challenges.”

An exceptional writer and editor, Miranda also brings considerable experience and expertise in content strategy.

Over the past several months, Miranda has truly shone as an organizational leader, working to grow SEJ’s editorial blueprint, talent, and operations exponentially.

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“And all the while, Miranda somehow kept the publishing crank turning out exceptional content and breaking news,” Jenise added.

“I’ve been thrilled to watch Miranda so quickly engage and take on a meatier leadership role.”

Having followed her work since joining SEJ, I can personally speak to Miranda’s diversified wealth of knowledge to the editorial team – not to mention the publication at large.

“I joined SEJ early in 2021 to help lead the editorial team in a period of great growth and opportunity,” Miranda said.

“We’ve been able to increase expert and educational content production by over 60% even while introducing a data-driven approach to content strategy and optimization,” she added.

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This year, we’ll publish 50% more ebooks than in 2021, and our contributing author program has grown to over 130 digital marketing and SEO experts with her guidance.

Prior to coming in-house, Miranda spent over 15 years leading her own marketing agency which served clients as wide-ranging as the world’s leading polar expeditions company, fintech and app startups, Fortune 100 companies, and several government agencies.

She’s been a prolific ghostwriter for brands and executives in SEO, tech, and finance, and has authored thousands of articles for clients that have appeared in the best-known B2B publications, technical journals, and mainstream media.

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As Editor-in-Chief, I’m beyond excited to watch Miranda’s leadership undoubtedly contribute to SEJ’s ongoing substantial growth.

SEJ’s brand and content offerings continue to evolve, to serve an audience of marketers and business leaders – and there has never been a more inspiring or energizing time to cultivate, promote, and be part of this remarkably talented team.

“Content quality has always been my number one priority, and so it’s refreshing to see that this is a shared value across the SEJ team,” Miranda said.

“I love to see the new ebook formats and article types we’re creating now and am really looking forward to continuing to innovate and teach, to bring the most useful and helpful educational content possible to the SEJ audience.”

Miranda is a part-time digital nomad and runs a location-independent content studio for enterprise organizations.

Three to four months of the year, she works in coworking spaces and cafes around Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

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“But not at the beach,” Miranda adds. “That’s a myth. Ever had sand in your laptop? No bueno.”

At her home base on Georgian Bay in Canada, she’s the wife of a talented chef; mother bear to two teens, two Shepherds, and three budgies; and a patron of the local live music and literary scenes.

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She’s also a huge fan of adrienne maree brown, Lizzo, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Margaret Atwood, AOC – and hockey.


Featured Image: Miranda Miller

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