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What Is a Title Tag & How to Optimize Title Tags for Google

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What Is a Title Tag & How to Optimize Title Tags for Google


What Is a Title Tag? 

A title tag is a piece of HTML code that indicates the title of a webpage, which appears in search engine results, social media posts, and browser tabs. 

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Optimizing your title tags is one of the easiest ways to help improve your rankings on Google. They signal to Google what your page is about.

Title tags appear as links on the search engine results page (SERP), like this:

Generally, it’s best to keep title tags between 50 to 60 characters. This way, words won’t get cut off on desktop or mobile SERPs.

In this article, we’ll cover title tag examples, best practices, and common mistakes that may cause Google to rewrite your title tags.

Title Tag HTML Code Example

​​Here’s what HTML code for a title tag looks like: 

<title>This is My Title</title>

The title tag appears in the <head> section of the page’s HTML code, like this:

title tag code example

However, most content management systems, like WordPress or Squarespace, will automatically set the title tag when you enter a title on a new page.

Title tags are a confirmed ranking factor. Google uses your title tag to get an idea of what’s on your page and how relevant your content is to the user’s search query.

Title tags also tell browsers how to display your page’s title in three key places: search results, browser tabs, and social media.

Title Tags Appear In Search Results

Good titles improve the user experience and encourage more clicks. Because of this, your page title (and meta description) should act as a headline and entice users to click on your result.

Page title example on the SERP

Title Tags Appear In Browser Tabs

Title tags tell a browser how to display the page title in tabs. This helps users navigate to the correct pages when they have multiple tabs open.

Here’s what those tabs look like:

Page titles in tabs

Title Tags Appear On Social Media

Title tags determine how a link appears when shared on social media. 

The title provides important context to the social media post. If the title tag is missing or inaccurate, the other elements of the post might not make sense.

See the page title at the bottom of the image below:

Page title on social media

Learn more about title tags and other on-page SEO factors in our in-depth guide.

Besides being a ranking factor, your page’s title is the first impression users will have of your page when it appears in search results.

Here are a few best practices to follow when writing title tags:

1. Keep it Brief

While Google won’t penalize you for a long title, it may shorten or rewrite it. And its version of the title won’t always make sense.

For that reason, we recommend keeping titles around 60 characters.

In the example below, the title tag has too many characters. Google is displaying it as “How to Improve Your Google Rankings (Without Getting…”, which leaves searchers hanging:

Cut off title tag example

Here are some shorter page title examples that don’t get cut off:

brief title tag

Because you have limited space, it’s important to decide whether to include your brand name or not. Leaving your brand name off could allow you to write a more detailed title.

To keep your titles brief:

  • Avoid typing your title in all caps. Uppercase letters take up extra space and could cause your title to get cut off.
  • Remove your brand name unless it’s necessary
  • Use symbols to save space (i.e., “&” instead of “and”)

2. Write Unique Titles

Unique titles help search engines determine what a page is about and may influence users to click.

Imagine you ran an ecommerce website that had the same general title for every single page, like “Furniture Store and Home Decor:”

Broad title tag example

If a user specifically searched for coffee tables, the generic title may suggest that this page won’t match their search (even if it does). After all, “coffee tables” doesn’t appear anywhere in the title.

This particular page is about coffee tables. So including that keyword makes the page title more intuitive for the reader and the search engine. Like this:

Specific title tag example

3. Target One Primary Keyword

It’s best to include only one target keyword in a given page’s title tag.

Stuffing lots of keywords into a single page title can hurt that page’s rankings. And it can also confuse users, making them less likely to click through to your page.

For example, this page title crams in three different keywords: “weighted blankets,” “blankets,” and “affordable weighted blankets:”

spammy title tag example

A single page probably isn’t going to rank well for all three of those keywords (and Google’s algorithm is advanced enough to understand semantics and keyword variation anyway).

Plus, it looks kind of spammy. So people won’t want to click on it.

A simpler, more natural title like this would work better:

good title tag example

Pro tip: You can use Semrush’s On Page SEO Checker to find on-page SEO issues, including keyword stuffing in the title tag.

If you can’t choose just one target keyword to represent your page, you might want to think about separating your content into multiple pages.

In some cases, a poorly written title tag can cause Google to display an entirely different title than the one you intended.

Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that Google’s version will perform better. 

And while Google’s rewrites won’t necessarily affect rankings, they may cause changes to your page’s click-through rate (CTR). 

Some of the most common mistakes you might make when writing title tags include:

Missing <title> Element

This one’s pretty simple. If you don’t specify your title tag in your HTML code, you don’t have a title. In search results, Google will make up a title for your site based on your page content.

To find missing title tags quickly, use the Site Audit tool to run an audit.

Then, head over to the issues tab of your report and filter for “title” errors in the search bar.

Finding missing title tags with Site Audit

Click on the “X pages don’t have title tags” error to get a full list of pages with missing title tags.

Repetitive or Boilerplate Text

Title tags are supposed to inform a user what kind of page they’re clicking on. So if you own an event space and include words like “tickets,” “seats,” and “tour dates” inside of every title tag on your site, Google will probably rewrite your title.

Bad example: United Center Home Page

How to fix it: Tickets & Events | United Center – Chicago, IL

The corrected example includes keywords that are relevant to only that page. Instead of including boilerplate terms, it includes what the page is about (tickets & events) plus the venue name and city.

If you’ve already run a site audit for missing titles, you can find a list of pages with duplicate titles in the same report.

duplicate title tag error in Site Audit

Click on the “X issues with duplicate title tags” error to get a list of pages with the said error.

duplicate title tag errors

Keyword Stuffing

There’s no need to include the same or similar keywords multiple times in hopes of ranking.

Think like a user when writing titles. Focus on accurately and concisely describing your page with one or two keywords max.

Bad example: Weighted Blankets, Cooling Blankets, Blankets for Anxiety, Blankets for Stress

How to fix it: Weighted Blankets to Ease Stress & Anxiety
 

The corrected title is better because it doesn’t repeat itself. The “bad example” repeats several related keywords, which looks spammy and doesn’t inform the user about the content of your page. 

Long Title Tags

Google shortens or rewrites 99.9% of title tags that are over 70 characters long.

Again, it’s best to keep title tags between 50 to 60 characters. This way, they’re less likely to get cut off on mobile or desktop.

Bad example: Save hundreds on Stressless® recliners and sofas with our instant rebate offer – Ginger Jar Furniture

How to fix it: Save on Stressless® Recliners and Sofas | Ginger Jar Furniture

Only include the most relevant information in your title tag. Everything else (e.g., instant rebates, save hundreds, etc.) can be added to your meta description.

Relevance 

Google does its best to serve users results that match their intent. So if you choose something vague like “Home Page” for your home page’s title, Google will probably update it to something more specific.

Bad example: Travel Blog

How to fix it: Traveling Solo as a Woman: My Life as a Travel Blogger

A travel blog simply titled “Travel Blog” doesn’t tell the Google algorithm or readers what your site is about. Adding something unique about your site to your title tag will entice users to click. 

For example, adding “traveling solo as a woman” tells readers more about who you are. This would match the search intent of a woman who wants to learn about traveling alone, but would not match the intent of, say, a family of four. 

Writing optimized title tags is a great opportunity to tell Google exactly what your page is about. 

The context you provide helps Google find and rank pages and gives readers key information that encourages more clicks.

Continue to experiment with title tags to better the experience for both users and search engines, and to prevent mistakes that could lead to inaccurate titles. 

And be sure to rely on Site Audit to identify duplicate and missing titles along the way.



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