Did you know that your page can have multiple titles depending on where you want them displayed? It's true… here are four different titles that you can have for a single page in your content management system.
- Title Tag – the HTML that is displayed in your browser tab and is indexed and displayed in search results.
- Page Title – the title that you've given your page in your content management system to find it easily.
- Page Heading – typically an H1 or H2 tag at the top of your page that lets your visitors know what page they're on.
- Rich Snippet Title – the title that you want to display when people share your page on social media sites and that is displayed in the preview. If a rich snippet isn’t present, social platforms will typically default to the title tag.
I often optimize each one of these when I'm publishing a page. On social, I may be compelling. On search, I want to ensure I'm using keywords. On headings, I want to provide clarity for the content that follows. And internal, I want to be able to find my page easily when I'm searching my content management system. For this article, we're going to focus on optimizing your title tag for search engines.
Title tags, without a doubt, are the most important element of the page when it comes to properly index your content for the search terms you're seeking to be found in. And for the love of all that is SEO… please update your home page's title from Home. I cringe every time I see a site where they don't optimize the home page title! You're competing with a million other pages called Home!
How Many Characters Does Google Display For A Title Tag?
Did you know that if your title tag exceeds 70 characters that Google may use different content from your page instead? And if you exceed 75 characters, Google is just going to ignore the content after 75 characters? A properly formatted title tag should be between 50 and 70 characters. I tend to optimize for between 50 and 60 characters since mobile searches may truncate a few more characters.
On the other end of the scale, I see a lot of companies try to pack and stuff a lot of unnecessary or broad information in their title tags. Many put the company name, the industry as well as the page title. If you're ranking well for your branded keywords, titles need not include your company name.
There are a few exceptions, of course:
- You have a massive brand. If I'm the New York Times, for example, I probably want to include it.
- You need brand awareness and have great content. I often do this with young customers building a reputation and they've invested heavily into some great content.
- You have a company name that actually includes a relevant keyword. Martech Zone, for example, can come in handy since MarTech is a commonly searched term.
Home Page Title Tag Examples
When Optimizing a home page, I typically use the following format
<title>keywords that describe your product, service, or industry | company name</title>
<title>Fractional CMO, Consultant, Speaker, Author, Podcaster | Douglas Karr</title>
<title>Maximize Your Salesforce and Marketing Cloud Investment | Highbridge</title>
Geographic Page Title Tag Examples
Roughly a third of all mobile Google searches are related to location according to Blue Corona. When I'm optimizing Title Tags for a geographic page, I typically use the following format:
<title>keywords that describe page | geographic location</title>
<title>Infographic Design Services | Indianapolis, Indiana</title>
Topical Page Title Tag Examples
When I'm optimizing Title Tags for a topical page, I typically use the following format:
<title>keywords that describe page | category or industry</title>
<title>Landing Page Optimization | Pay Per Click Services</title>
Questions Work Great In Title Tags
Don't forget that search engine users are tending to write more detailed queries now in search engines.
- Approximately 40% of all online search queries in the United States contained two keywords.
- Over 80% of online searches in the United States were three words or more.
- Over 33% of Google search queries are 4+ words long
On this post, you'll find the title is:
<title>How to Optimize Your Title Tag for SEO (with Examples)</title>
Users are using Who, What, Why, When, and How in their search queries far more than they have in the past. Having a question title that matches a search query is a great way to get indexed perfectly and drive some search traffic to your site.
A lot of other sites have written about title tags and title tag SEO and I'm not sure I'll ever compete with them since their sites dominate SEO-related terms. So, I've added with Examples to try to differentiate my post and drive more clicks!
You don't have to be shy about using as many characters as possible. Utilizing highly focused keywords first, followed by broader terms next, is a best practice.
Title Tag Optimization in WordPress
If you're on WordPress, tools like the Rank Math SEO plugin allow you to customize both your post title and your page title. The two are different. With a WordPress site, the post title is typically within a heading tag within the body of the text, while your page title is the title tag that is captured by the search engines. Without the WordPress SEO plugin, the two can be identical. The Rank Math SEO plugin allows you to define both… so you can utilize a compelling title and lengthy title within the page – but still constrain the page title tag to the proper length. And you can see a preview of it with a character count:
60% of Google searches are now done via mobile so Rank Math also provides a mobile preview (top right mobile button):
If you don't have a plugin where you can optimize your rich snippets for social media, title tags are often displayed by social media platforms when you share a link.
Develop a concise, compelling title that drives clicks! Focus the keywords on what you believe the visitor will be focused on and nothing more. And don't forget to optimize your meta description to drive your search user to click through.
Pro Tip: After you publish your page, check to see how you rank in a few weeks with a tool like SEMrush. If you see that your page is ranking well for a different combination of keywords… rewrite your title tag to match it closer (if it's relevant, of course). I do this all the time on my articles and I watch the click-through rates in Search Console increase even more!
Disclaimer: I'm using my affiliate link for SEMrush above.