How to Write a Great Title Tag

Today we have a refresher course on the HTML Title Tag. Quickly, let’s define what a Title Tag is:

Title Tag
An HTML element that lives in the <head> element and is used to describe the overall page.

You can see it most easily in the top bar of a browser’s window (other than Chrome), as pictured below.

screenshot of a title tag being displayed in Safari

The Title Tag is the title of the HTML document, though it is not necessary the title of the content that exists on that HTML document. Aside from being displayed in the browser window, as shown above, it is also used by Google and other search engines in their search results pages, as pictured below.

screen capture of the ClickNathan search result on Google

When it comes to SEO, or the practice of trying to make your site’s pages as likely as possible to rank well with search engines like Google and Yahoo!, the Title Tag is said to be the largest on page factor outside of the actual content of the document for determining this. In other words, when a search engine comes to visit your site and try and determine where it should be shown in the list of search results, this is a big factor. Moreover, when you’ve finally written a good Title Tag and achieved that coveted #1 spot for a search, it’s the bright blue text that the user will see. So while you should add in your keywords and optimize the Title Tag in a way that will help search engines want to rate your page highly, you also need to remember that the end goal is writing a Title Tag that will entice a user to click the link over the other results on the page.

Writing a great Title Tag could be the basis for an entire course in SEO, and I have no intentions of getting into every bit of minutia on how to do it best. However, there are a few guidelines you can keep in mind that will help you create a great Title Tag.

  1. Keep it under about 70 characters. This is roughly the number of characters shown by all search engines in their results pages.
  2. Use your keywords in the Title Tag, but make sure they both correlate with the actual content of the page, and aren’t thrown in so heavily that it doesn’t read like an actual title. How to Fix a Flat Tire┬áis significantly better than Flat Tire, Flat Tires, How to Fix a Flat Tire, Fix Flat Tires. The former is easy for a human to read, and balances the keyword (in this case [flat tire]) with the rest of the title. The second sounds like an SEO robot farted.
  3. Be creative. This is sometimes as close as you get to a free advertisement in life. Entice real humans to want to read your article by making this first bit of it interesting.
  4. Don’t be too worried about your website’s name. If it fits, great. If not, you can skip it. There are other clues (both on the page itself as well as the search results) as to who your company is, the URL, the description, you don’t necessarily need to place your company name in the Title Tag.

Thus ends our brief tour of the HTML Title Tag.

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