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How to Create Search Engine Friendly Title Tags

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One of the most frustrating things about SEO is getting everything to work together as it should.

If you’ve done SEO, you know exactly what I’m talking about. There are so many little elements in SEO that sometimes it seems impossible for everything to work out perfectly.

Even today! I know I talk a lot about how “smart” the search algorithms are and how it’s virtually impossible to game the system.

However, there are still a lot of elements you need to pay attention to for your SEO to succeed.

Case in point: Page title tags.

Before you yawn and find some more sexy SEO topic to jam on, hear me out.

Title tags are one of the cornerstones of SEO. They always have been, and as far as we can tell, they always will be.

Moz explains, “Title tags are the second most important on-page factor for SEO, after content.”

When it comes to low effort/big results, title tags take the cake. It’s such a small element, but has such a massive impact!

You know it’s important to create eye-catching headlines, but optimizing your titles also matters for SEO.

That’s where page title tags come in. They’re how your titles are relayed to search engines, and they’re an important part of any SEO strategy.

This is one of the few times when you need to write for both people and search engines, and that can be tricky. (Especially with headlines.)

In short, you have to create a clickable headline that also makes search engines happy.

Here’s the challenge: People have to like it. Search engines have to like it. Yikes!

Does that sound difficult?

Yes, it can be if you don’t know what to do. That’s why I’m going to break down my process step-by-step.

We’ll go through that process, but first, let’s look at why title tags are important for SEO.

What are Page Title Tags?

If you’ve ever used a search engine before (and I’m guessing you have), you’ve seen a page title tag whether you’ve realized it or not.

It’s simply the headline on the SERP (search engine results page).

For example, if you Google “kitchen appliances,” you’ll see that one of the top results is from IKEA.

image24 5

In this case, the page title tag is “Kitchen Appliances – IKEA.”

This is what both people and search engines will see as the title of your page. Often, this is the first thing they’ll see, and that’s a big reason why it’s so crucial to put time and effort into your title tags.

The point you need to remember is this: real people are reading your title tag.

They are going to respond to it. They will judge it. They will be compelled by it. They will be put off by it. They will learn from it.

Basically, the title tag is your page’s message to the world!

Title tags work with the meta description (the text below the title). In the case of the IKEA search result above, this is the meta description — a sentence or phrase that adds more information about the page.

image06 12

I’ve written about meta descriptions before, but title tags are even more important.

Both the title and the meta description together give a brief idea of what your content is about, but the title tag stands out more.

There are two big reasons why page title tags are so important.

First, if you have a clear title that’s relevant to your page, both humans and search engines will see that as a sign of a good page.

If your title tag isn’t optimized, then people could skip right over your content, and search engines may determine that your page isn’t as good as it could be.

A second reason why title tags are important is they show up in browser tabs:

title tags guide show up in search bars

So when someone wants to find your page out of all their browser tabs, they’ll look for your title tag.

Title tags are often what people will see if your page is shared on social media. For example, here’s an example of a title tag on Facebook:

example of a title tag

Can you see why title tags are so important? A good title tag means maximum visibility, while a bad title tag can sink your page.

There are three important steps to take to optimize your title tags.

  1. make sure your headlines make for good title tags
  2. create the title tag
  3. make sure the title tag is optimized for SEO

Let’s dive into all three.

Step 1: Write Your Title Tag

You might be wondering how writing a title tag is any different from writing a headline.

In some cases, your headline and title tag will be the same exact title. But there are some cases where they won’t be.

Check out this SERP result from Copyblogger:

copyblogger example of a title tag

It seems like the title for the page would be “How Content Marketing Builds Your Business,” right?

But when you go to the page, you’ll see a different title:

copyblogger title tag example

The title shown on the page is longer and more descriptive.

So why would Copyblogger do this? It’s most likely because the shorter title tag looks better on the SERP, and it takes less time to read.

The actual title that you see on the page goes into more detail, and that’s probably why they used it. They get the benefits of having both a streamlined title tag and a descriptive page title.

It’s a sneaky and useful tactic that’s the sort of SEO stuff I love.

With that in mind, here’s how to write a great title tag.

There are a few elements of title tags:

Title Tags Should Be Short

Shorter titles are easier for people to read and for search engines to crawl.

But there’s a better reason for shorter title tags.

If your title tag is too long, search engines will cut off your title with an ellipsis (…):

title tag example

Ideally, your readers and search engines should be able to see the entire title tag so they get the best idea of what the content is about.

Google typically shows no more than 60 characters of the title tag. So if your title tag is 60 characters or less, you can generally expect that the entire title will show.

If you want to make sure, Moz has a handy preview tool:

title tag tool moz

This is a great feature that I recommend you use. Remember, keep it short if possible.

Title Tags Should Contain Your Main Keyword

You probably expected to see something about keywords in an article about SEO.

For best results, try to put your focus keyword as close to the beginning of your title as possible. That’s so search engines (and people) will see the keyword early on.

Here’s a title tag with the keyword right up front:

title tag example

Contrast that with this result that has the keyword closer to the end of the title tag:

title tag example

One tip: Make sure the keyword placement is organic. It’s preferable that the keyword is close to the beginning, but it’s not necessary for great SEO.

Title Tags Should Describe a Benefit

Much like a headline, a title tag needs to communicate a benefit to stand out.

This is one of many reasons Google warns against keyword stuffing and boilerplate titles.

Your title tags are representatives of your pages, and you want people and search engines to know that your pages have unique, valuable content.

Make sure your title tag is related to your content. It should read naturally and grab the reader’s attention.

Keep in mind, you’re not trying to trick people. All you need to do is clearly explain the benefit of clicking on the page.

Often, the “benefit” is nothing more than telling them what the page is about! At this point, you’re not trying to sell anything. You’re simply giving them information.

Here’s an example that clearly expresses a benefit (ignore the jargon-filled, not-so-great meta description).

title tag example laptops

On the other hand, this title tag is plain and doesn’t explicitly state a benefit (they did a nice job with the meta description, though).

title tag for seo example amazon

(Sure, Amazon probably doesn’t need to state a benefit, but your site probably does.)

Stating a benefit probably won’t do anything for search engines, but it goes a long way for human users who come across your site with a search.

Step 2: Create Your Title Tag

Once you have your page title tag written, you need to set it as the title for your page.

The way you’ll do this will depend on what powers your website.

If you have a custom site, you’ll need to edit the HTML directly. (And it’s super easy to do.)

If you use WordPress, it’s also super easy.

If you use another CMS or host, it might look a little bit different for you.

Let’s take a look at each of these three different cases and how to create a title tag for each scenario.

Case 1: You Have a Custom Site Not Hosted on a CMS

If your site isn’t hosted on a CMS, you can edit your HTML to add titles.

First, you access the HTML for your specific page. I recommend checking with your hosting service on how to do this.

Once you’ve found the editable HTML, make sure you’re between the <head> tags.

how to add title tag to custom site example

(Note: This is an example code using Editpad.org. Your code will probably look different, and there might be extra code here. That’s okay––just make sure you’re only between the <head> tags and not any others.)

To create the title, use <title> tags. For example:

how to add title tag to custom site example HTML

That’s it! Save your code, and your title will now show up correctly.

Case 2: You Use WordPress

If you use WordPress, you’ll be happy to know there’s a super simple solution — it’s actually way easier than editing the HTML.

In fact, this method uses something you’re probably already using: the well-loved Yoast SEO plugin.

This is a powerful plugin that you can get a lot out of. And it’s great for editing your title tags.

First, if you don’t have Yoast installed, go to Plugins > Add New.

add yoast plugin for title tags

Type “Yoast” into the plugin search bar.

type yoast title tag guide

Look for “Yoast SEO.”

add yoast SEO to WordPress - title tag guide

Click “Install Now.”

Next, click “Activate.”

Now the plugin is up and running.

To edit the title tag for a page or post, navigate to that content and open the editor.

Scroll down to the bottom of your post or page, and you’ll see the Yoast box, where you can edit the title tag and meta description.

It’ll also give you a nice preview of both your title and meta description:

where to add title tag in Yoast

If your title tag (or meta description) turns out to display differently on the actual SERPs, you can always go back and edit it in this section.

Case 3: You Don’t Have a Custom Site or a WordPress Site

I know not all of you fall under these categories.

You might use a completely different kind of CMS, or your web host might have a different setup.

In those cases, I recommend contacting your CMS company or web host to find out how to access your HTML to edit your page title tags.

This is really a case-by-case scenario, so it will probably look different for a lot of you. However, you should be able to get an answer with a quick email to your web host’s support email.

So far, you’re two-thirds of the way done! Now you just need to make sure your title tag is the most SEO-friendly it can be.

Step 3: How to Optimize Your Title Tag for SEO

We’ve talked a little bit about this already, but there are a few more steps you can take to make sure your title tag is optimized.

This is the step that most people miss entirely!

They think, “Yay. I’m done with my title tag!” But they forget that one of the primary methods of marketing and promotion is through social sharing!

Here are my best tips for optimizing your title tags for social.

Use Your Brand Wisely

The title tag can be a great place to include your brand, but if you overdo it, you could face some consequences.

Google suggests using your homepage title tag to include the most branding. Their example: “ExampleSocialSite, a place for people to meet and mingle.”

For most of your pages, adding your brand to the end of the title tag will suffice (if there’s room, that is).

Here’s how I do that:

title tag example neil patel

Prevent Search Engines from Rewriting Your Title Tags

You read that right: Sometimes Google will rewrite your title tags.

It’s crazy, I know! But why the heck would this happen?

According to Silkstream, “Google will automatically change how your title is displayed in the SERPs if their algorithm is under the impression that the page title doesn’t accurately represent the content on that page.”

So if your title tags don’t look good to Google, they’ll consider other factors, including:

Take a look at this title tag:

title tag example rewrite

If you go to the homepage and view the source code (right-click and select “View Source” or “View Page Source”), you’ll see the company set the title to be something else:

title tag example source code

Google rewrote it because they felt their revised title tag would help people more than the original.

The good news: If you follow the steps outlined in this article, Google should keep your title tags as they are.

If you do see your title tags showing up differently, revisit them and try to identify how you can further optimize them.

Consider Making Your H1 Page Heading Different From the Title Tag

This is exactly like the Copyblogger example from earlier.

You can use two different sets of keywords in your title tag and H1, which organically enhances your SEO. Search engines will count the title tag as the “heading.” (Just make sure it’s optimized.)

Avoid Duplicate Title Tags

Google explicitly says that “it’s important to have distinct, descriptive titles for each page on your site.” So don’t copy and paste your title tags.

If you’ve done everything so far, you should now have an optimized title tag! Finalize it and send it out into the world.

Title Tag Frequently Asked Questions

What are title tags and why do they matter for SEO?

Title tags are the title of a page users see in the search results. They serve as a first impression and can encourage — or deter– people from clicking on your pages.

What’s the difference between title tags and meta descriptions?

Title tags are shorter and appear first in the SERPs. title tag vs meta descriptions

How do you write a good title tag?

Pay attention to the length, use the main keyword the page targets, and explain what benefit the user will get by clicking.

How long should title tags be?

Between 50 and 50 characters. Any longer than that and Google may truncate your title.

How many keywords should be in my title tags?

Generally just one. You can add a second if it is closely related and makes sense. Don’t keyword stuff; the goal of the title tag is to explain what users can expect if they click.

Title Tag Conclusion

I know first-hand that SEO can be a headache., but it doesn’t have to be.

I’m all about demystifying SEO because I know it’s something anyone can do. Even if you’re a technophobe, you can do this!

It doesn’t take years of experience in digital marketing to get SEO right. You just have to learn the ropes and get used to it.

For example, creating page title tags is pretty simple. It might seem complicated at first, but once you take a peek behind the scenes, you see how easy it is.

If you’re not currently leveraging the power of optimized title tags, use this article to start doing that. It can be a game-changer and help your visibility on the SERPs.

Best of all, it only takes a few minutes.

What tips do you have for using title tags for maximum SEO power?

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Massive Volatility Reported – Google Search Ranking Algorithm Update

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Google Logo Exploding Cracking

I am seeing some massive volatility being reported today after seeing a spike in chatter within the SEO community on Friday. I have not seen the third-party Google tracking tools show this much volatility in a long time. I will say the tracking tools are way more heated than the chatter I am seeing, so something might be off here.

Again, I saw some initial chatter from within the SEO forums and on this site starting on Friday. I decided not to cover it on Friday because the chatter was not at the levels that would warrant me posting something. Plus, while some of the tools started to show a lift in volatility, most of the tools did not yet.

To be clear, Google has not confirmed any update is officially going on.

Well, that changed today, and the tools are all superheated today.

Google Tracking Tools:

Let’s start with what the tools are showing:

Semrush:

Semrush

SimilarWeb:

Similarweb

Mozcast:

Mozcast

SERPmetrics:

Serpmetrics

Advanced Web Rankings:

Advancedwebranking

Accuranker:

Accuranker

Wincher:

Wincher

Mangools:

Mangools

SERPstat:

Serpstat

Cognitive SEO:

Cognitiveseo

Algoroo:

Algoroo

So most of these tools are incredibly heated, signaling that they are showing massive changes in the search result positions in the past couple of days.

SEO Chatter

Here is some of the chatter from various comments on this site and on WebmasterWorld since Friday:

Speaking of, is anyone seeing some major shuffling going on in the SERPs today? It’s a Friday so of course Google is playing around again.

Something is going on.

Pages are still randomly dropping out of the index for 8-36h at a time. Extremely annoying.

Speaking of, is anyone seeing some major shuffling going on in the SERPs today? It’s a Friday so of course Google is playing around again

In SerpRobot I’m seeing a steady increase in positions in February, for UK desktop and mobile, reaching almost the ranks from the end of Sep 2023. Ahrefs shows a slight increase in overall keywords and ranks.

In the real world, nothing seems to happen.

yep, traffic has nearly come to a stop. But exactly the same situation happened to us last Friday as well.

USA traffic continues to be whacked…starting -70% today.

In my case, US traffic is almost zero (15 % from 80%) and the rest is kind of the same I guess. Traffic has dropped from 4K a day to barely scrapping 1K now. But a lot is just bots since payment-wise, the real traffic seems to be about 400-500. And … that’s how a 90% reduction looks like.

Something is happening now. Google algo is going crazy again. Is anyone else noticing?

Since every Saturday at 12 noon the Google traffic completely disappears until Sunday, everything looks normal to me.

This update looks like a weird one and no, Google has not confirmed any update is going on.

What are you all noticing?

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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Google Hanukkah Decorations Are Live For 2023

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Google Hanukkah 2023

Hanukkah (aka Chanukah) starts this coming Thursday night, December 7th. Google has added its Hanukkah decorations to the Google Search results interface to celebrate. Google does this every year and I expect to see the same rollout in the coming weeks for Christmas and Kawanzaa but for now, since Chanukah is in the coming days, we have the Hanukkah decorations live at Google Search.

Here is a screenshot of the Chanukah decorations as they look like on the mobile search results.

Google Hanukkah Decorations 2023

You can see it yourself by searching on Google for [chanukah], [hanukkah], but not yet [חֲנוּכָּה‎] or other spelling variations yet but it should soon. It looks better on mobile than it does on desktop results.

To see the past, the 2023 decorations, 2021 decorations, 2020 Chanukah decorations, 2019 Google holiday decorations, the 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 and so on.

Happy Chanukah, everyone!

Forum discussion at X.

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SEARCHENGINES

Google Pay Accepted Icons In Google Search Results

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Woman Checking Out Store Google Logo

Google seems to be testing a Google Pay Accepted label or icon in the Google search results. This label has the super G logo followed by the words “Pay accepted” words next to search result snippets that support Google Pay and notate such in their structured data.

This was first spotted by Khushal Bherwani who shared some screenshots of this on X – here is one:

G Pay Accepted Google Search

Here are some more screenshots:

Brodie Clark also posted some screenshots after on X:

Google Pay Accepted Google Search

I tried to replicate this but I came up short.

This is not the first time Google had similar icons like this in its search results.

Forum discussion at X.



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