Using and Optimizing HTML Title Tags

Using and Optimizing HTML Title Tags for Search
An HTML Title Tag is a snippet (short text preview) of HTML that provides details about a web page:  It is primarily used by Search Engines for indexing and displaying sites in SERP’s (search engine result pages).  Title Tags help search engines and searchers determine the nature, importance and relevance of your web pages.

For search engines, title tags are the most important piece of text on your website and usually the first text to be crawled and categorized.  A well-written title tag defines the topic of your web page and influences your site will rank.  For searchers, the title tag is the first copy viewed relative to a particular search result as well as the link to your website from SERP’s.  A well-written title tag
is compelling, and should encourage readers to click-through to your website.

Data about online information seeking behavior shows that many searchers choose to view nothing else but the title tag – the first line on a SERP. If well-written, they help with conversions, so they should be written with care.

Identifying and Viewing HTML Title Tags
Title Tags can be viewed a number of ways including:

  • search engine results pages, as blue hyperlinks
  • at the very top of your browser’s window title, on the left hand side
  • a websites source code, also referred to as hidden content*

*hidden content is ‘Meta Information’ found in a website source code.

To view a websites ‘Title Tag Information’, do the following:

1. Using Internet Explorer, click on the ‘View’ button
2. Next, click on ‘Source’, the tenth button from the top
3. By clicking on ‘Source’, you should now be able to view that websites ‘Title Tag’, surrounded by HTML tags:
<title>Insert Title Tag Text Here</title>

The text inserted between the title tags is what will appear in the search engine results pages as hyperlinks to your web page(s).

Title Tag Examples
Search engines allow limited space for title tags in search engine results pages; Google shows about 70 characters, including spaces and punctuation.  Other search engines may show more before being truncated – cut off.

Writing a compelling title tag within the allotted space can be challenging.  Along with a compelling message, you may also want your title tags to communicate:

  • who you are
  • what you do
  • where you do it

For examples of good – and not so good – title tags, see the following fictional web design company examples:

Not good:

<title>Web Design Home Page</title>

<title>Web Design home page | Web Design services for small and medium sized business</title>

Avoid doing this (may be seen as spam by search engines):
<title>Web Design web site design web-site designs commercial corporate industrial professional small medium large business custom web design web development</title>

Google says:

“Make sure that your TITLE tags are descriptive and accurate.
Your title tags contain important information that Google uses when indexing your site. Descriptive information will give us good information about the content of your site. In addition, text contained in your title tag can appear in search results pages, and useful, descriptive text is more likely to be clicked on by users.”

Title Tag Uses – A Marketing Perspective:
Along with telling search engines and searchers what your web pages are about, title tags can also serve to:

  • brand your company, products and services online
  • inspire a call to action
  • geo-target (let searchers know you serve a specific region)
  • help gain a competitive edge – you can view competitor site title tags

10.5 HTML Title Tag Writing Tips:

  • every web page should have its own ‘unique title tag’
  • avoid duplicate title tags
  • use keyword-rich text, leading with your most important words first
  • treat title tags as you would headings
  • ensure title tags can stand alone, independent of your web page
  • omit adjectives and fluff words (i.e. Welcome) – space is limited
  • keep title tags to about 70 characters, including spaces and punctuation
  • if your business is local, be sure to insert the region (i.e. Web Design services in Toronto, Canada) in your title tag
  • although some use automatic title tag generators, we recommend customized title tags for best results
  • your web pages title tag text should also be reflected in the body of that web pages content

Note: For more visibility in SERP’s, CAPITALIZE the first few words in your title tag
Ray Litvak
Web Writing and Online Copy Writer – Toronto