If you want to rank well in Google then you're going to quickly find out that there is an incredible amount more you can do than just optimising your text. However, the title of your page is still probably the single most vital ‘on-page’ SEO factor to take into account, so it's worth the effort to get it right.
In this post I'm going to delve a little deeper into how you can construct a valuable page title that will help your on page SEO. I will also cover how you can increase your visibility and click through rate by having a great meta description in place.
Optimising your title tag for Google
I think it's important to first of all tell you what Google says right now about optimising the page title:
- Every page should have a title specified within the HTML <title> tag.
- Page titles should always be descriptive and concise.
- You should always avoid keyword stuffing.
- Avoid repeated or boilerplate title tactics.
If you are doing any more than what is stated above then you do run an increased risk of coming up against the Google quality algorithm. So it's best to keep it on topic and natural, but still intelligently getting your key term into the title.
Structuring a great title for your webpage
The first thing to cover is the optimal length of the title you should use. You will often read about various "magic" amounts of characters to use. But the thing is, nowadays there are different versions of Google in different countries that display search results differently, and the mobile versions of Google are different again. And the visible length of the title displayed by Google changes frequently.
If you want to 99% guarantee your full title is visible then you should stick to 55 characters in length. But don't agonise over this. Think about user experience, which is what Google advocates. Usability studies have generally shown that a great page title is around eight words long and usually less than 64 characters, but then again that's not the whole story. You should also remember that although Google only displays a certain character (or pixel) length in its search results, it's reading the whole title when it takes into account the potential relevance of that webpage.
So you should use that as a guideline, but don't give up on a brilliant headline that can create social media buzz and click through traffic just to try and get your full title visible in the search engine results.
In terms of maximising the SEO benefit you should try to get your keyword as early in the title as possible. This will also help with click through rates. If somebody sees the search term within the title as they start to scan the results, they will often be more likely to click through.
The last main ingredient to getting a great page title Google will love is to make it unique on your site. If you have a large site with lots of similar articles, then try to be inventive with your titles and the key words you are targeting.
For example, if your site is about online dating, and every single title has the words “online dating” somewhere in it, then you are watering down the uniqueness of the title, and running the risk of your site being seen as one trying to game the search engines. If in doubt, write a great title for people, not Google.
So in summary, when it comes to creating a page title for your new content, it should be:
- Intelligent and well formed
- Highly relevant to the page content
- Not duplicated or similar to other page titles on your site
- Written primarily for humans and not to stuff keywords
Taking the time to create fantastic and unique page title tag will certainly help. But this is only true if the content it supports is in-depth, on topic, well structured and well linked.
Always create a meta description for your new content
In the old days the meta description and Meta keywords tags were relevant to search results. But as far back as 2007 Google stated that this is no longer the case.
However, the meta description tag is still vital. The reason for this is Google will often display the meta description as the text snippet under the title in its search results. Although this doesn’t always happen, and, if Google decides it can find a more descriptive piece of text within the page itself it may substitute it, but as a rule it will still often use the meta description tag.
So by creating a compelling and highly relevant meta description tag, you increase the chances of Google using it and therefore getting the search result wording displayed as you want it.
If you do good work on your title tag as we have already discussed, and you also create a brilliant meta description then both of these displayed together can make your results stand out and increase your click through rate.
You should approach writing your meta description in the same way as writing your title tag. You're trying to get key elements into it that will encourage the user to click:
- Get the key term into the meta description as early as possible
- Don't keyword stuff
- Make the description enticing and build curiosity
- Include a call to action
- If possible, suggest you are offering something unique
You should try to keep your meta description to 150 characters or less, otherwise you run the risk of it being cut off mid word or sentence.
Test your results because you won't get it right first time
As with everything in search optimisation and marketing, you will need to monitor and tweak all the time to find what produces the best results.
You won't get the perfect page title straight away. You will not get the perfect meta description first time. You will need to monitor click through rates and see what the results show, then adjust.
You could even come up with several versions and use split testing to see which combinations produce the best click through rates, and then you can settle on those for the long-term and move on. I would also suggest you factor in engagement via social media, again you can test different titles to see which produces the best results.