7 best practices for awesome meta titles

Meta Title

What is a title tag?

The title tag is the main description of an online document. It is a very important on-page element for SEO. It is very simple to add to any html document by specifying the title element within the <head> section.

<title>Example of a title tag</title>

Where is the title tag used?

The title tag is used in three seperate places on the web:

  1. Browsers
  2. Search Engines
  3. Other websites

Browsers

In browsers the title tag of a webpage is displayed in the tab and in most browsers it's also displayed at the very top of the browser.
Meta Title tag usage within a browser
The webpage in the image above has been marked with the title 'Example Domain' as you can see.

Search Engines

In search engines the title tag is used as the headline of each result.
It's the big blue text which you click on to go to the corresponding website.

In the example below I googled the query "Title tag". As you can see in the image every occurence of the query or part of the query has been made bold.
Title tag usage within a search engine

This draws attention to your users eyes and increases the click through rate.

Other websites

A lot of the times when a different website links to you they will use the title as anchor text for the link. Social media websites are a good example of this fact.
Title tag usage within social media

As you can see in the image above the big headline "Google Plus SEO: Everybody Talks About It - How Do You DO It?" is the link. This is of course the title tag from the shared link.

Title tag best practices

There are some best practices for creating the best possible title tags for your website. Let's run through them one at a time.

  1. Only use one <title> tag per page and make sure it's in the <head> section of your HTML document.
  2. Don't make it too long. The maximum a search engine will show of your title is 70 characters. This is including whitespaces. The search engine image from earlier in the post has a search result with a title tag that gets cut off. This isn't very good for the user since the sentence just got cut off by three small dots. The W3C advises to keep it to a maximum of 64 characters.
  3. Make sure the title is like a headline on a magazine. It's like an advertisement in both Search engines and Social media platforms. Make sure that when a user reads your title tag it's gonna want to read the rest of your content. Check out 'How to write great headlines and earn clicks' to learn how to write great headlines that earn clicks.
  4. Try to start the title with your most important keyword. The most important keyword should be about the current page and it should be something people actually look for in the search engines. Of course keep in best practice #3 in mind.
  5. Make sure that every single one of the title tags on your website is unique and specifically tailored to it's page and that it reflects the content from that page.
  6. Avoid keyword stuffing! Don't stuff your title tag full of keywords in order to rank higher. That may have worked in the past but now it doensn't anymore. Search engines are getting smarter and are figuring out which page is the best for the user. So make sure the content is awesome and that the title tag is just an amazing headline that makes the user want to read it.
  7. Make sure the title tag on at least your homepage has your brandname in it. Don't forget that the branding should go at the end of the title.

Useful tools

Resources

Some resources containing information on the title tag:

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