The title tag has been — and probably will always be — one of the most important factors in achieving high search engine rankings

Are page titles important for SEO?

The page title describes the content found on the page. It displays across the top of major browsers and is the text that displays in bookmarks. The page title is an important component of a search engine friendly web page because it can tell search engines what the page is about.

title-dispaly-in-browserBy having your title tags fixed in your pages you will gain higher rankings in the search engines. The difference in your ranking will be noticeable relatively quickly. One other reason why any contractor or home improvement web site should fix the title tags is because the words that appear in the title tags are usually the clickable link in the search engines results page (SERP), and by making them more descriptive this will result into a higher number of clicks.

How many page titles per page?

Many web sites implement the <title> tags incorrectly as they either have more than one on the page or have put the <title> tag within the <body> tag instead of the <head> tag. All these practices are not good and should be avoided as it decreases the value of the <title> tag.

There should be only one <title> tag on each page and it should always be placed within the <head> section of the code.

How does Google display the page titles in the SERPs?

Let’s first see how Google displays the page titles in the search engines results page(SERPs). If you would like to see how a specific page of your web site looks in Google without any personalisation, then you need to use the following command “Info:” + the url you would like to see for instance    info: http://www.homeadviceguide.com/search-engines-judge-value-link/

google-serps

What page title length will Google display?

As you can see in the Google’s search engine results page bellow the final part of the title is truncated. It is being cut off and there are several dots following after that. This is happening because Google has a limit to the number of characters that displays in the results. There is a pixel limit of 512 characters that Google can play with, which is usually equal to 69 characters. In addition, the title length can vary based on the result type and the actual characters you use.  If you use wider letters you will be able to fit less characters.

truncated google search results page

Here we need to note that the snippet title (text link) that Google displays on the SERPs can change dynamically based on the user’s query. However, if you would like to ensure that Google will display the whole page title in full in desktop machines, stick to about 55 characters. Although, if you decide to go with this strategy, you will probably be missing out traffic opportunities from long tail search phrases.

The more traffic data Google gets, the more likely it is to change the search snippet title based on the users query. The only way you can prevent Google from changing you page titles, is if you try to be laconic and specific when writing them, as this way Google will not be compelled to modify it.

How Does Google, Yahoo & Bing Handle Malformed Title Snippets

Google used to display the <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, <h4>, <h5>, <h6> tags if the page title was excessively long or malformed. In 2016, Google prefers to label a page like this ‘untitled’, instead of using any of the header tags.

Yahoo and Bing work pretty much the same, as Bing actually powers Yahoo search now. Bing and Yahoo display as many characters in the title tag but this might change in the future as they might choose to take a similar approach to Google.

How can I make my page title look attractive in the search results?

Making your page title look attractive in the SERPs is very important as it will increase the chances of getting more visits from the search engines. You need to think your page titles as ads that would show up in magazine or newspaper. The more appealing they are the more likely it is for the people to click on them. If you are running paid search ads on any major search engine, you probably know already how a simply tweak can make a huge difference in the number of people clicking on the ad and landing on your web site.

Your potential clients are searching in Google using specific keywords phrases to locate information or products that fulfill their needs. To get them to come to your web site, you titles need to answer their questions. This is why you need to always make sure you include in your title the question-based keywords that you wish to rank for. Bellow you can see an example of  how an optimised title might look like:

How Much Does Radiant Floor Heating Cost in 2016?

As you can see from the example above, the title is written to match the users question. This is one way to write page titles. google-instant-search-resutls

Alternative, you could use the following format:

2016 Radiant Heating Installation Cost | Price to Install Radiant Floor Heat

which is based on two different searches of different popularity and competition. By adding the year “2016” at the beginning of the title we increase our changes of ranking for long-tail keyword searches as users tend to look for the most up-to-date information.

Should I have my home improvement company’s name on the title tag?

Having your company’s name in the page title is good. However, having only your company’s name it is not good and it should be avoided. Several really big companies place the company name at the beginning but they are already established and the presence of the company’s name at the  begging of the title captures the users’ attention right away resulting into getting more clicks. If you are not very established, it is better to place the actual search phrases that you wish to rank for at the beginning of the title and the company’s name at the end, as this way you place more emphasis on the keywords phrases you are trying to rank for.

Should my page titles make use specific keywords and keyword phrases?

It is very important to target specific keywords and keyword phrases to your page titles but only after carefully conducting keyword research and competition analysis. By simply stuffing your page titles with keywords will result into getting worse rankings than before. Always try to think how your potential customers would search for you in Google when they are typing in the search box. Google’s predictive search and related searches at the bottom of the SERPs page can help you get a good idea. Use as many characters as possible as you can to make your title more descriptive to capture long-tail keywords, as it easier to rank for such queries.

google-related-searches

What are the stop words I need to avoid in the <title> tags?

Stop words are words that do not carry significant value so it is better to avoid using them in the <title> tag if possible. You should try to use nouns, verbs and combine them with adjectives instead. Use you writing skills to maximise your keyword usage while creating a naturally compelling message.

Does Google Penalise Keyword Stuffing of Title Tags?

Google does not seem to penalise web sites for using spammy page tiles. Some time ago it would only show the first 8-12 words, which is equal to 70 characters and then just seem to count the rest of the title as part of the page text.

If the page title is excessively long and spammy Google will try to use the <h1> tag instead, however, if this were not possible it would probably show no page title at all in the SERPs.

Should I write the page titles according to the purpose that I want to fulfill?

Yes. Write your page titles according to your primary purpose. For example, if your goal is to get higher rankings in the search engines results’ page then optimize for certain keywords. If you want to motivate the users to take a specific action then write the page titles to fulfill this function.

How can I split up the brand from the rest of the title?

When splitting up the brand from the descriptive, consider good to use “|” symbol either the arrow arrow “>” or hyphen “-” and both work well. However, when it is appropriate I also use the arrow or hyphen inside a title tag.

Should I repeat the titles in the headlines?

This is actually a very good practice because by re-using the title tag of each page as the H1 tag, you can target better the most important keyword of your page and also improve users’ experience, since when users go to a page from the SERPs they clicked, they have the expectation to find the title they clicked on.

Good & bad examples of <title> tags

Now, let’s explore several good ways of writing page titles for your contractor web site. For the examples bellow we will assume that you are running a bathroom remodeling company based in Brighton called RML Ltd.

Primary Keyword | Brand Name (example: Bathroom Fitters Brighton | RML Ltd)

Brand Name – Primary Keyword (Bathroom Fitters Brighton – RML Ltd)

Primary Keyword & Secondary Keyword – Brand Name (RML Ltd – Bathroom Fitters & Bathroom Renovations Brighton)

Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Brand Name (RML Ltd – Bathroom Fitters – Bathroom Renovations Brighton)

Primary Keyword in a Sentence | Brand Name (Local Bathroom Fitters in Brighton)

Primary Keyword | Secondary Keyword in a Sentence (Bathroom Fitters Brighton | Bathroom Renovations Made Easy!)

Brand Name – Primary Keyword & Secondary Keyword (RML Ltd – Bathroom Fitters & Bathroom Renovations Brighton)

Bellow you can see several really bad practices for writing your <title> tags:

Home (particularly bad when repeated on every page)

http://www.rml.co.uk (http://www.my-domain.co.uk)

Brand Name (RML Ltd)

Primary Keyword Secondary Keyword (Bathroom Fitters Bathroom Renovations Brighton)

Brand name – primary Keyword and Secondary keyword (RML Ltd – Bathroom Fitters and Bathroom Renovation Brighton

Primary Keyword + Secondary Keyword + Tertiary Keyword (Bathroom Fitters Brighton | Bathroom Renovations| Bathroom Installation)

Long sentence with target keywords at the end (Find your local expert to help you with your bathroom fitting project in Brighton)

What Is The Perfect Page Title Tag?

There is no standard formula that can be applied when creating a page title that would make it perfect, as the title tag has always to be specific to a page. What could get the <title> tag to be considered perfect is to be created based on how people search for thing one the page.

Depending on the page of your web site that you are optimising the <title>tag for, you will need to create a different page title each time. For instance, if a page of your web site is earning links from other web sites, it might be worth to modify the page title over time to diversify the anchor text other web sites are using when they are liking to this page, as the title ends up often of being used as the anchor text. For many pages a permanent page title might be enough.

Bellow you will find a list of things to keep in mind when writing your page titles:

Checklist
  • Ensure each page of your web site has a unique page title.
  • Write for humans and try to optimise both search phrases and higher clicks.
  • Make your page titles highly relevant to your page’s content as this way you maximise both usability and search engine rankings.
  • Always include your primary keyword at the beginning of the page title.
  • Never target more than two keywords in the <title tag>.
  • Try to keep you page title to a maximum of 64 characters if you would like them to be usable and to display good in the majority of browsers.
  • When writing the page titles try to be succinct and clever as this will reduce the chances of being modified by Google.
  • If you like you can include up to 12 words in the page title. The rest of your page title will be counted as normal text on the page.
  • Do not stuff your page title with keywords you want to rank for. Focus on maximum two search phrases or even better on particular phrase and optimise for long-tails.
  • Put you company’s name at the beginning only if you have a highly recognisable brand.
  • Use mixed case to increase readability and to improve click through rates.
  • When writing page titles for product pages include action verbs to encourage users to take action – show now, discover now, find out more, shop for etc.
  • If there is something that you are offering for free or is under offer make sure you make it clear in your page titles or Meta descriptions.
  • Experiment with capitalization to emphasize important words.
  • Use unique characters and punctuation, when it makes sense (Call today!!!, ~Get a FREE quote~

Home Page Title Is Wrong/Different In Google Search Results

Sometimes you might notice that the home page title seems wrong in Google search results. When this is the case, Google creates its own snippet based on what it knows about the page from internal links, content, HTML mark-up and links from other sites to the page.

At this point it would be good to list some of the most obvious reasons your home page title might be looking different in the Google SERPs:

Checklist
  • The first place that Google looks in a page is the <title> </title> tags in the HEAD part page of your page, to display as the link to your page in the search results.
  • If you have recently made changes to your page titles for the search engines and you still cannot see the changes in Google, it is because the search bots (Google’s agents) might have not visited your page since you made the changes. Give it some more time. Check Google’s cache for the page by typing in the Google search box cache:www.mysite/my-page.com. This will allow you to see which page Google is “supposedly” using for your page.
  • If you have checked the Google cache and it has been updated after the date you made changes to the page title, then probably Google might be using the page title from the Open Directory Project, (the DMOZ directory), to replace your title because it thinks it is more suitable to a specific query. In order to stop Google from using the text link from the DMOZ and Yahoo Directory you will have to implement the <meta name=”robots” content=”noodp” />and <meta name=”robots” content=”noydir” /> between the <head> </head> tags.
  • If you are listed in neither DMOZ nor Yahoo directory, the issue might be that your title element ‘My Title’ is malformed in someway. Search engines can ignore completely your <title> tag if it provides a bad user experience. Make sure that you are using the right mark up for your page title and that it is contained within the <header> </header> tags.
  • Another reason that you title elements might not be displaying properly in the Google search results page could be that you are using directives in your meta tags and Robots.txt that confuse Google. If you want to prevent Google from displaying a certain page in the search results and Google decides to include the URL, you will need to stop Google from indexing and displaying it by taking several actions.

How to update your WordPress <title> tags with Yoast plug-in

If you have built your web site with WordPress, then the Yoast extension is probably one of the best options, as it given you full control of your meta tags. The following video will help you install and configure it.

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