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How to optimise title tags – a best practice guide


A simple but incredibly important part of optimising your website for the search engines, it’s imperative that you understand why and how you should write your titles tags.

What are title tags? And why do you need them?
Like most titles, whether on a book, in a newspaper or a product, the title tag on a web page describes what the page is about. But, unlike the title of a book or magazine, the title tag on a website also has to show the search engines what the page is about, as well as the person reading it. And this is where you need to be careful. Remember, search engines aren’t as intelligent as us humans. Well, not yet, anyway. They don’t understand sarcasm or humour, wit or intention.

It’s true that they understand synonyms, and that a page about “The best bars in London” should also be displayed for search queries such as “The best pubs in London”, but it’s important to write titles that clearly show the search engines exactly what your pages are about.

Put simply, if the search engine doesn’t really know what your page is about, it will never know what keywords to index it for.  No matter how funny, interesting, clever or witty your title is, if the search engine doesn’t understand what it’s about, no-one will ever find it – at least not via a search engine.

Doesn’t that make them really boring and dull for the person reading it?
Traditional pen and paper style titles have always been about grabbing the reader’s attention, and we still want to do that with our web page title tags. Good title tags blend the best of both; they’re optimised for the search engines as well as being interesting and exciting enough to make people click through. I’ll show you how to this further on.

Where can the title tag be seen?
Title tags can be found in the browser tab at the top of the page, you may have to ‘mouse over’ to see the full text. But more importantly, they are the titles that can be seen in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). The title is what the searcher first sees after they have typed in their search.


Important points to consider

  • You must be concise

A search engine looks at each individual page of your website and decides which search queries it should rank for. This means you need to be concise and make each page count. Don’t try to optimise your title tag for more than one or two keywords.

E.g. “Greenhouse plant pots from Green King Garden Supplies” should be a different page (and title) to “Conservatory plant pots from Green King Garden Supplies”.

  • IMPORTANT : Stay within the character limits

Much like newspaper or book titles, space is limited. Search engines generally only display up to 70 characters on desktops and laptops, and mobile devices only display up to 55 characters. Make sure your title tags aren’t too long!

  • Prioritise your keywords

Most search engines consider the words at the beginning of your title tag to be the most important. If your page sells “Greenhouse plant pots” these keywords should be at the beginning of the title.

E.g. “Greenhouse Plant Pots | Best Price Guaranteed”
NOT “Best Price Guaranteed | UK Greenhouse Plant Pots”

  • People skim when searching
    They look for confirmation that they’ve found what they were looking for. This often means they look for results that reflect their exact search, i.e. if they search “greenhouse plant pots”, they will be looking for those exact words in the SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages). They will be far more likely to click on the result that says “Greenhouse plant pots from Green Kings” than “We stock plant pots for sheds and greenhouses”. Think about how you search for things.
  • It’s not all about SEO

As well as needing to be sure that the result is relevant to what we are looking for, people need other types of confirmation and reassurance. This may come in the form of brand recognition, or price promises, guarantees etc.

Consider these examples:

  1. Greenhouse Plant Pots | Plant Pots for Your Greenhouse
  2. Buy Greenhouse Plant Pots from Green King UK | Best Prices Guaranteed

Example #1 is great for search engines, but lacks a human element. The searcher may question if the company is based in their country, or if they are a reputable company. They may even question whether the company is offering plant pots for sale, or if they are simply writing about plant pots.

Example #2 makes it very clear as to what the page is about and it also reassures the searcher that the company is based in the UK, as well as being serious about offering the best prices. It also shows the searcher that they can buy plant pots from this page. Don’t forget to state the obvious.