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Everything You Need To Know About Meta Title Tags

Andy Williams

by Andy Williams on 26th February 2014

Video Transcript

Hi, guys. Today I’m going to go straight back to basics. I’m going to look at title tags. Now, the reason I’ve decided to look at title tags today is because I just get the feeling that there’s a lot of what might be classed as ‘old-school’ SEO tactics that are starting to get left behind, and aren’t being used as much as they once were. Elements such as title tags are just as important now as they used to be. So it’s important that you make sure that your title tags are optimised and you use them to your full potential.

This is kind of aimed at people who own their own site. They maybe can’t afford to bring an agency on board, or they haven’t got an in-house SEO, and they’re looking to maintain the site themselves. So this should give you a few tips and tricks as to what you should look at when you’re optimising your title tags.

So I’m going to look at some general rules. I’m going to look at some SEO rules, what makes a good title tag, and what makes a bad title tag, and what sort of things you should look out for.

First and foremost, it’s important that you understand that every single page on your site should have an optimised title tag. And the reason for this is because you don’t know where the traffic is going to be entering your site. And if you’ve got a really big site with lots of different products, effectively every single one of those pages is an entry point. So the more optimised those pages are, the more chance you’ve got of bringing people directly to the page that you want them to be at.

From a general point of view, the only rule, really, that Google has put out there is that your title tag can be as long as you want it to be. The only drawback is, they’re only going to display up to 70 characters of that title tag. So effectively, you want your title tag between roundabout 50 to 65 characters long. That’ll make sure that you’ve got a decent sized title tag, you’ve got enough room to include your message that you want to put across. It could well be that your title tag goes all the way up to the 70 [character] count, and that’s absolutely fine. All you need to do is make sure that once that page has been indexed with that new information, you haven’t got the dreaded three dots at the end of it. If you see that, that means some of the information has been cut off by Google. So go back and change that. Maybe make it a bit shorter.

Beyond that, it’s down to you, really, and that’s where the SEO rules come into it and what makes a good and a bad title tag. From an SEO point of view, because you’re now in the position where you’re looking to optimise your title tag, you should have already done the keyword research. So you should know what terms you’re going to be targeting on each individual page. Now, the old rule of thumb used to be that the key term that you were targeting should be at the start of the title tag, or right at the beginning. If this doesn’t fit naturally, don’t do that. Don’t force the term right at the beginning. Your title tag needs to make sense. It needs to read clearly. So what you don’t want to do is have the key term that you’re going for, and then a sentence afterwards. Make sure that the whole title tag reads smoothly. So if it doesn’t fit at the beginning, don’t force it in.

You might also look to have associated terms included, as well. This helps with relevance, and it also might help capture another side of an audience you wouldn’t have otherwise reached out to. People use different terminology for products. So bear that in mind as well, when you’re doing your keyword research and what you’re going to add.

And also make sure that you don’t have too many key terms in there. Remember, you’ve only got up to 70 characters. So you want to get across as much decent information as you can. If you just cram it full of key terms, you’re not really selling the page. And not only that, it stands out as well, and if Google decide that maybe that’s not the greatest optimised title tag, that potentially could be holding you back, or it might not be pushing you up the search results as quickly as you would like.

So make sure you’ve got your key terms in there. If you’ve got any associated key terms that you can add as well, providing it all reads nicely, then go for it. That’s what you should have.

So what makes a bad and a good title tag? Well, if we look at the bad ones first. I’m sure you’ve all gone to a website and the homepage title tag is ‘Home.’ That’s basically not been optimised at all. Some might have the domain in there. The URL. Or they might just have the company name, as well. All of these don’t really give any information as to what that page is about. It doesn’t give Google any information to what that page is about. It doesn’t give your audience any information, either.

So, again, make sure your key terms are in there. Make sure that you optimise and you give across the message you want to.

Make sure your title tags aren’t too long, and they’re not too short as well. As we’ve touched on, you’re looking at around about 50 to 65 characters in length, if you want some kind of guideline there. You don’t want to make it 65 characters long if that’s too long. If you’re forcing information that doesn’t make sense, then don’t make it long for the sake of it. Again, with the shortness. If there’s a bit more information you could add, and it makes sense, have it in there. Look to have it so that you’ve got a really good, decent title tag.

And if we look at other areas that make bad title tags is don’t have nothing in there. I have seen quite a few sites and pages that go beyond, you know, sort of the second tier, where there is absolutely no title tag at all, not even set up in the CRM. So you haven’t even got a generic one set up. So as we said at the beginning, every single page needs to be optimised. So don’t leave it to chance. Make sure you’ve got webmaster tools set up, as well, because that will also give you information on how many title tags you’ve got missing, how many are duplicated, how many are too short. That’s the sort of information you should be working towards, as well. Making sure that you clear all those messages. So make sure you’ve got Webmaster Tools to give you that sort of information.

So if we look at what makes a really good title tag, it’s quite simple, really. You’re just looking to sell the page, you’re looking to sell your products, you’re looking to sell the information that is on that page. So, again, the key term should be in there, naturally, and beyond there, sell. Sell what is on that page.

This little snippet of information you’ve got with your Meta description tag is kind of like your one-off sales pitch. So you want to make sure that you’re bringing people into your site. So give them the sort of information that you feel they would be looking for. Imagine that you’re carrying out the search for that product on the page yourself. So, for example, if you were selling trainers, one of the obvious terms you’re going to go for is ‘trainers,’ but that’s highly generic, highly competitive. The chance of you appearing on page one, two, three, or even four are very, very remote.

But I could be looking for red trainers. So having the word ‘red’ in there, and ‘red trainers,’ makes that title tag more specific to what I would be looking for. Add the size of the shoe in there. Is there a make of the trainer, as well? And if you’ve got a unique selling point, where you’ve got a very, very cheap price, have the price on there, as well.

If I’m looking for a specific trainer, I’m probably going to look for the make, probably the colour, the size, and any additional information. If you can get that into your title tag, that is very, very specific. The chances are that you’re going to appear really well in the search result pages, because you’ve gone for the exact information.

And because you’ve gone for the exact information, you’ve created a really, really good title tag. You’ve included the terms you’re looking to target. You’ve included additional information. And your click through rate is going to go up a lot higher than if you just had the generic term.

So if you were going to go for… if we’re using the trainer one as an example. If you just had ‘trainers,’ and then the company name, no one’s ever going to find that page. But the more information you have there, the more chance you have of being found for relevant information.

So that’s the kind of information you should be looking for in your title tag. And when you look into the sort of information that you’re trying to add, that’s when people start to turn off, and that’s when people start to think, ‘Well, I’m not going to have time to do my entire site. My site is far too big. I don’t have time to give every single page its own optimised title.’ But it’s really, really important that you do do that. Because as I said at the start, you don’t know where people are going to be trying to enter your site from. The more optimised you are, the more chance you’ve got of bringing people into the relevant pages straight away, and you’re going to hit a far bigger audience, as well.

So that’s why title tags are still highly important. It is an old SEO technique, but the reason it’s an old SEO technique is because it’s always been relevant, and that’s never going to change. It gives your visitors the information they need. It gives Google the information they need. And it gives you the chance to rank a lot, lot better in the result pages.

The only time this slightly changes is if you’ve got a blog, and the title tags, then, are going to be slightly different, because you’re not selling the product that is on the blog site, or on the blog pages. You’re looking to sell the information that’s on there, or the posts that’s on there. So these are probably going to be more related to the actual title of the blog post. You’re probably going to be either answering a question, putting across an opinion, giving information out about your business. So make sure that’s reflected in your title tag, as well.

But the last thing that is more important than anything else is that there is no ultimate solution to title tags. What works for one site might not work for another one. So it’s important that you record how your title tags are performing for you. So take note of where you’re ranking before you optimise them, and then give it a month or so, or a couple of weeks, and see if there’s any change, if there’s any pickup in rankings and traffic, and even click through rates, and even sales. All of that information will give you an indication as to whether your title tags are working for you.

So hopefully all of those tips will give you enough information to get started. Like I said, it’s important that you try and test for yourself to see what works. But title tags are just as important today as they always have been. So please do not leave that side of your SEO out at all.

So for more information, check out our blog at koozai.com, and also make sure you like us on our Facebook page, and also check out more videos on our YouTube channel.

Andy Williams

Andy Williams

Andy Williams, our DADI award winning Digital Marketing Manager will be giving you useful insights into local search and the overall SEO landscape. Andy has over 9 years experience in the SEO industry including 2 years as the in-house SEO consultant with a leading Web Design company.

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3 Comments

  • chantal jefferies 20th March 2014

    Hi Andy,

    Really great video, thank you for sharing this information. I was just wondering about page descriptions, are these still important to complete within the Metadata? Thanks, Chantal

    Reply to this comment

  • Andy Williams

    Andy Williams 20th March 2014

    Hi Chantal,

    I’m glad you found the video helpful.

    With regards to Meta Descriptions. This remain highly important. It is strongly debated that they no longer hold any ranking strength however this is your chance to create a snippet of information that could essentially make you stand out from everyone ranking around you.

    Think about why people should click through to your page, what your USP is over everyone else, give your audience a call to action.

    Google have again changed how this information is displayed and I would aim for around 140 characters in length. I hope this helps.

    Reply to this comment

  • Chantal Jefferies 21st March 2014

    Hi Andy,

    Thank you very much for getting back to me, it is greatly appreciated.

    This information is extremely useful & supports my own view which is great. I have downloaded you SEO whitepaper as well which is a very useful tool.

    Thank you again,

    Chantal

    Reply to this comment

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