8 tips for the perfect title tag

What is a title tag?

The title tag determines the name of a web page. Title tags are mostly visible in Google and in the browser.

The page title Google shows is a page’s title tag. The same goes for Bing.

Your title tag = page title in Google

The title tag appears in the browser title bar and the browser tabs. When you add a page to your favorites or when you share a page via social media, the title tag is what apppears as the page title.

Your title tag = page title in browser

Is the title tag important?

You bet it is. The title tag is one of the most important things to get right if you want to do well in Google. It’s not the only thing but if you neglect your title tags you’re making it very hard on yourself.

Tips for a good title tag

1. Use no more than 66 characters

  • Search engines only show a limited number of characters of the title tag. Google shows the first 66 characters. After that, it simply adds an ellipsis (…). If you want your title tags to look professional, don’t use more than 66 characters.
  • Short titles are easier to read than long ones.
  • The less words there are in your title tag, the more value Google attributes to each word. As a consequence, it’s easier for a keyword to score well in a title tag of 4 words than it is in a title tag of 8 words. This is called keyword density.

2. Make sure your title tag accurately describes your page

  • The title tag should contain the keyword you want to score with for that page.
  • Make sure you use that keyword somewhere on the page itself.
  • Use a keyword your visitors use. It’s nice to do well in Google but if it’s with a word nobody uses it’s not really going to do you any good.

3. Think about what you want the page to do

  • Make sure the title tag and content of the page correspond with the reasons people visit that page.
    ‘Netbooks: reviews of the fastest models’ will appeal to a different audience and create different expectations than ‘Cheap netbooks’.

4. Put the keyword first

  • Google reportedly attributes more value to the first word in a title tag than the last one.
  • Jakob Nielsen’s research shows that the first 11 characters determine whether someone continues to read on or not.

5. Don’t forget to mention your brand name

  • Putting your brand name in the title tag isn’t all that important if you’re a small company. But if you’re one of the leading players in your field, it’s a good idea to mention your brand name in your title tags.
  • Wa advise most companies to put their brand name last. Only on your homepage should your brand name be first.
  • If you’re an absolute top brand that the majority of people knows and trusts, it can be interesting to start your title tags with your brand name.

6. Separate your brand name from the page title

  • Use a vertical dash (|) or hyphen (-) to separate your brand name from the actual page title.

7. Write attractive title tags

  • If you stuff the title tag full of keywords, you’ll probably score well in Google. But it will make your title tag unattractive and people won’t click on it. So you’re kind of missing the point.
  • For a lot of people, the title tag is their first introduction to your brand. Make sure you make a good first impression.
  • Your web page’s title tag appears in a list with other search results. Make sure it stands out.

8. Unique for every page

  • Each page of your web site should have a unique title tag. If you can’t decide what a page is really about, how is Google supposed to know?

How can you adapt your title tags?

That depends on your website. Hopefully, you’re using a content management system (CMS) that lets you adapt the title tag of every page manually.

If you’re choosing a new CMS, make sure it allows you to do that. If you want to do well in Google, it’s vital.

More tips?

Do you have some more tips for good title tags? Feel free to add them in the comments section.

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  • http://twitter.com/reginelambrecht Régine Lambrecht

    What about using the H1 inside the title ? H1 is also supposed to best represent the page most important content, is also supposed to be short, to contain the best keywords used by the visitors, etc.
    Then you just have to add the brand name next to it.

    And what about if the H1 is also the same as the page name inside the navigation menu (best practice for localisation purpose)? Then all 3 are identical, which is not so good for LSI…

    Please share your opinion about Title VS H1 VS navigation menu item

  • Karl Gilis

    You’re confusing the title tag with normal headings.
    The title tag can be found in the part of a web page. The content of the title is not displayed on the page. You can’t use any styling or h1-tags in the title tag.

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  • Régine Lambrecht

    I don’t mix H1 with title: I mean using the CONTENT of H1 as . What about using the same words as title, as H1 and as navigation menu item ? Tx for sharing your opinion; I don’t find clear statement about that good practice in usability, accessiblity and SEO.

  • http://www.agconsult.be Els Aerts

    @regine You can use the same keywords you use in H1 in the title tag. But you can put more words in the title tag than in the H1. Adding your company’s name is for instance a good thing to do in a title tag. And you’d never put that in the H1.

  • http://twitter.com/reginelambrecht Régine Lambrecht

    It is sure that we “can” use the same keywords (+ some site name/company identifier). The question is “should we” ? What are the pro and contra ? Tx

  • http://www.agconsult.be Els Aerts

    @regine Yes, if you want to do well in Google with a certain keyword you should use it in both the H1 and the title tag. And use it to link to that page.

  • http://www.dobox.com/ Bruce

    It is sure that we “can” use the same keywords (+ some site name/company identifier). The question is “should we” ? What are the pro and contra ? Tx

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  • john

    what if your site name / brand is your main keyword, wouldn’t using it at the end of title tag lessen the weight of the keyword for your site?

    here’s an example of what I mean,

    url: breadsticks.com
    page title: Fresh Wholemeal French Bread Sticks – Bread Sticks
    Would google see it as spamming if a site had 1000 pages with the term on each page title?