These title tag tips are easy to implement, and are all based on common sense. Just like everything else in the SEO world, don’t write your titles for the search engines, write them for the reader!
Your title tag is the “headline” that people will see in the search results. It’s also one of the primary factors for the search engines in determining your ranking for a given search phrase, although that’s declining in importance.
I like to follow a few basic rules when writing title tags…
- Keep in mind that only about 55 characters or so will display in Google search results, so I keep my titles shorter than that when possible. This makes for a nice headline for the SERPS, and prevents the title from being cut off in mid senten…
- Write the title in plain English, using proper grammar, make it easily readable, and not just stuff a jumble of keywords in there. Remember this is the headline for your search listing. As a headline, it should captivate the readers attention and motivate them to click. What do you think is more effective to draw in a customer…”Cleveland Real Estate – Joe Blow” or “Cleveland Real Estate – Secrets to Saving Money” ?
- A Common Trend Seems to be Capitalizing Important Words. I like that and it makes your listing stand out from the crowd, but technically, will not help (or hurt) your rankings. Standing out from the crowd is important. I don’t recommend using all caps though, because like emails written in all caps, it’s considered improper.
- I still use my primary keyphrase (unique for each page) in the title tag when possible, and I also prefer it at the front. Although a well designed content rich website that is properly “themed” can still rank well without having the keyword in the title, the odds are still in your favor if you do use the primary phrase in your title tag.
- Your company name should be dead last (if it’s even used at all) unless you’re a well known brand. Sure it’s a nice ego boost to see your name in the bolded search results, but nobody is likely searching for you by name. By using your company name in the title tag, you’re likely wasting space that could otherwise be used for another persuasive key word or phrase. What do you want here…new customers or bragging rights?
June 2012 Update
The copy above hasn’t been changed in a long time, and while it all still sounds good in practice, Google has been showing it’s own “interpretation” of your title tag, for a long long time.
Matt McGee has a detailed post about this that he wrote right after last week’s SMX Advanced, and if you’re an SEO Geek like us, you’ll want to read and absorb every word.
Spring 2014 Update
Google changed the font size of the search results, so my recommended title length went from 65 down to 55.