Title Tags for SEO: Optimize Your Website’s Title Tags For More Organic Traffic

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What’s up, everyone? Today, we’re going to talk about your website’s HTML title tags, super riveting stuff. Your title tags are a massively important part of the entire search engine optimization equation. You really need to get these right if you want to rank your website higher and drive more traffic and customers to your business. We’re going to talk about all the down and dirty details, what makes a good title tag, what makes a bad title tag, and how you can implement all of that today. Make sure to stay for the whole video. I’m Tommy Griffith with Let’s get going. HTML title tags. Before we really dive into that, I want to do a quick reminder here on where this plays into your entire digital marketing strategy. SEO, search engine optimization, is only one piece of digital marketing, and it should really only be one piece of your strategy. There’s a lot of other things to think about. We’re only diving into search engine optimization right now.

If you think about your entire sales funnel, SEO is just one component of that. Do keep that in mind. On top of that, SEO’s only one component of your digital marketing strategy, but your title tag is only one component of SEO. This is like a Russian nesting doll situation. We’re going deep right now, but just keep that in mind and always have a 10,000-foot view when you think about this stuff because this is just one piece of one channel of a more comprehensive strategy.

Do keep that in mind as we get going. Title tags really are the most important element of the entire on page optimization equation. Title tags tell both users and search engine what that page is about, so you really want to get this right. A couple of other high-level points on title tags, in general, you want to keep it at 60 characters or less. This varies a little bit because it’s not an actual character count.

It’s the pixel width. Sometimes, some pixels are a little bit bigger, smaller. Sometimes, 58 is the maximum. Sometimes, 64 is the maximum. Rule of thumb is 60. If you’re title tags are 60 characters or less, you’re probably going to be fine. Keep that in mind. The consensus in the industry right now is that having your primary keyword, the primary phrase that you’re optimizing your document for, you generally want that in the front of the title tag. I’ve seen some mixed reviews on this. I’ve seen studies both proving and disproving this. To me, intuitively, it makes sense to put the keyword closer to the root document because even outside of Google’s ranking weighting, it makes sense that users would be scanning for this primary keyword, and if that keyword is at the front of the search results, that makes sense to me. The general consensus seems to be that the primary keyword should be closer to the front. I was lukewarm on this for a while, but now I agree. Apples to apples, if it doesn’t really affect your click-through rate, you should try and get your primary keyword closer to the front of the document.

Title should also be unique for every page. A lot of people mess this up if they’re doing back-end engineering for a web application and they’re writing titles that are static across all their pages. This isn’t good. A lot of eCommerce content management systems also do this poorly, as well. For example, they’ll scale out a bunch of category pages that use the exact same title. That’s not good, either. Rule of thumb here is every URL should have a unique title tag. It should be about the topic of that page.

You want every URL on our website to have a unique title tag. That’s really all there is to it. Finally, you write for humans. I cannot tell you how bad I messed this up when I first got into search engine optimization. People get really excited about this, and they just overdo it. They really try to reverse engineer everything that Google’s looking for, and they try and jam as many keywords into their title tag as possible. You don’t need to do this. More importantly, what you want to keep in mind is that your end user turns out are humans. Yes, it’s really good to keep in mind what Google’s looking for, but at the end of the day, it’s a person that’s going to decide whether or not they want to click that result. Be compelling about this. Come at it from an editorial perspective. Come at it from a content marketing kind of perspective. What would compel a person to click this. Yes, get the primary keyword in there.

Yes, do all the things we’re about to talk about in the rest of this video, but, ultimately, read it out loud. Show it to a couple people. Take a look at it in the results yourself. Don’t just jam all your keywords in there. Write for humans. Make it compelling, and keep the click-through rate in mind because, ultimately, even if you write a great title tag for search engines, if users are disgusted by it and they’re not going to click, that’s a massive component of the ranking equation. Users not clicking your result when shown it, you’ll start to drop down in ranking. Do keep that in mind. Make sure to write for humans while you’re doing this. All right. Within the same context of designing for humans and keeping click-through rate in mind, let’s talk about a couple more things that can help increase and juice up those click-through rates.

The first is use a marketing power word. I think this was popularized by BuzzFeed. They do a lot of this, but the basic idea here is there’s a handful of words, different vocabulary that you can use that can really get people intrigued. The basic idea here is use curiosity, stir up emotion, and compel people to click. Try and separate yourself from some of the other results. We have a huge list of marketing power words for you down below. You can go ahead and grab those, but using a marketing power word in one of your title tags is a great way to differentiate from your competitors and juice up your click-through rates a little bit there, as well. Using numbers and brackets, this is super popular now, as well. Using a number and ending your title tag in parentheses or brackets seems to be very helpful, at least on our site, with click-through rates. I can’t really explain it, but numbers and brackets seem to work. Finally, using the month or the year. Month is tough to do. You really need to be updating your content a lot or you need to write some backend engineering to do this, but the basic idea is if users get a signal that this content is fresh, is new, then they’re generally compelled to click, and it can generally increase your click-through rates.

Trip Advisor does a great job of this. I competed with Trip Advisor for a long time at Airbnb, and they kicked our ass in a lot of ways. They’re really good at this now with using the current month in their title tags. The easy one is year. Need to go back and update once a year, but the basic idea is if you’re using the current year in your title tag, it’s a great 80/20 for this is fresh. Just three things there to keep in mind in terms of increasing your click-through rates. It’s using a marketing power word, using numbers or brackets, parentheses in your title tag, and using some type of recency indicator, like the month or the year. We talked about what makes a good title tag. Just as a reminder, where is this stuff used? Where do you see it? A couple places. First of all, obviously, the search engine results. As you scan Google, all the blue links you see are generally populated by the title tag that you’re going to put in. The next is your browser window.

If you use Chrome, you use Firefox, you have tab browsing. You’ll actually see the title tag up there in the tabbed window. The third is social media sites. You can override this open graph tags. We’ll get into that a little bit later, but the basic idea is a lot of social media sites will actually use the title tag of the document as the initial default title that gets shared on social media.

Keep all those three in mind. Now, let’s dig into the actual code. A lot of people won’t hand code anymore. You’re probably using a content management system, like WordPress or something similar. We’ll look into the actual code here just to take a look at how it works under the hood. The actual title is wrapped in, very obviously named Title Tags, title/title.

We take a look here in the search results with what that looks like. Our title here is mytitletag –, and you can see here in the simulated Google results that big blue link at the top. That is the actual title tag. That’s what it looks like. This is obviously a terribly written title tag, so let’s go ahead and optimize it next. Let’s dive into how we would do this. Let’s say we had a website. That website was called We were in the business of selling emojis and we were optimizing a page for red emojis. How do we optimize our title tag if we wanted to rank number one in Google for the term red emojis.

Let’s go ahead and do that. We have our terrible title tag here. We’re a brand new SEO consultant, and we’re an agency, and we’re doing an audit on our customer’s site, and we say, “Okay, here’s your website. Here’s your title tag. This title tag’s terrible. Let’s optimize a little bit.” For round one, we might do something like We’ve got the primary keyword in there. That’s great, much better than it was before. This could definitely be improved, but this is much better.

This tells both search engines and users what the document is about. It’s much, much better than what we inherited. Now, let’s add a little bit more flavor to it and design for humans a little bit more. Maybe around two, you would think, “Okay, what would compel me? What would compel me to click?” Maybe something like Here we go with out title tag, The Best Red Emojis. We have our primary keyword in there still. It’s a little bit more compelling. I like this a lot better than what we had before. This works for now, but if we really wanted to go nuts, really think about click-through rates, what would really compel me, start to think about some of your favorite sites that you read every day and how they write title tags, some of the principles we talked about earlier in this video.

How do we write it? Maybe something like this, 17 World Class Red Emojis for 2019 Updated. We’re using a number. We’re ending it in parentheses there. We’ve got the date. We’ve got a compelling marketing power word, like world class, and we are good to go. I might end it with my brand name there, like, something like that, but you get the point here. Some people say, “Hey, Tommy, you said put your primary keyword at the very beginning of your title. You’re not doing it here.” This is where it’s a little bit more art than science. Maybe I could come up with a different title tag that had red emojis at the front, but I actually like this one a little bit better because my primary keyword’s in there, and I’m designing for humans.

It’s a little bit of a balance. This was the one I came up with because it felt the best to me. Maybe I’m not going to be fully optimized in the eyes of Google, but my hunch is that my click-through rate is going to be so much disproportionately higher that it doesn’t matter. This is actually more advantageous to do it this way. A little bit more art here. As I’ve been doing this for a while, I stopped … What I really like to do, what I really like to think about, is understand what the search engine’s looking for and then try and forget it. Really understand what the search engine’s looking for and then forget it and design for people. That’s generally the way I like to do this, and so far, it’s worked out for us.

With click-through rates, you’re saying, “Okay, great, I get it, Tommy. I want to design for humans, blah, blah, blah. How do I monitor click-through rates?” The easiest way to do this is actually Google search console. If you jump into Google, search console, you can dive in and check it out. You can go into very specific URLs and look at the actual keyword and see what your click-through rate is. We have a page on our site that’s ranking very well for the term SEO checklist. I just dove in and took a look at some of the click-through rates for some of those terms.

Great way to test how you’re doing. It’s a jump into Google search console and check out your click-through rate over there. That’s it. That’s really all there is to optimizing your website’s HTML title tag. I hope that was useful. If it was helpful and if you learned something today, go ahead and click subscribe down below for even more digital marketing tactics and tips from us. If you’re on YouTube, I would love a comment. What did you think? Was this useful? Would you do it a different way? I’d love to hear how you’re writing your HTML title tag. I read every single comment. Finally, if you want a free comprehensive SEO checklist from us, we have them for you on our website at Go ahead and click the link down below to get your free SEO checklist right now.

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