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Page Title SEO Best Practices: How to make them Google Friendly?

Page Title SEO Best Practices: How to make them Google Friendly?

This is our exhaustive guide to Title Tag SEO best practices in 2020.

Title tags are one of the most important on page SEO parameters and can’t be ignored if you are serious to rank on top of search results.

In this guide, you will learn:-

  • What are Title Tags (and their importance for SEO)?
  • How to optimize Title Tag for SEO?
  • Some advanced Title Tag SEO optimization techniques

Let’s get rolling.

A. What are Page Title tags?

Title tags (also known as Page Title) is an HTML meta tag of your web page visible to your visitors (as well as search engine bots) even before they land on your website.

SEO Title Tag example

In a layman’s term, it is the clickable headline that appears on the SERPs and social media shares and is a short and concise summary of what’s within that web page.

These HTML tags are extremely important from UX perspective as they generate user curiosity, thereby resulting in a page click.

But more than that, SEO Title Tag is a direct ranking factor for Google. That means your title tag helps the search engine bot set the initial context of your page.

Writing Title Tags can be tricky, especially if you are a newbie and don’t have a process with you. In this blog post, you will get a detailed approach on Title Tag best practices and how to make them search engine friendly.

If you are on WordPress, you can use free SEO tools like Yoast to key in your SEO Title, as shown below.

SEO Title Tag within WordPress Yoast Plugin

However, if you have a custom-coded website, SEO Title tag resides in the following HTML tag (within the head section):-

<title>This is an example title</title>

B. Where do you see Page Titles?

Title tags are directly visible to your user on 3 prominent areas as mentioned below:-

1. In SERPs

The title tag is visible to search users after they run a search query.

A clear and descriptive SEO title tag will generate user interest and result in an organic click.

SEO title in SERPs

2. On social media

If you haven’t specified Open Graph titles, your SEO title is what gets picked up for display on social media channels.

Again, the purpose of the title tag still remains the same: to provide users a very clear idea of what follows if they click your web link on social media.

SEO title within Social media

3. On web browser tabs

SEO Title is also prominently displayed on the web browser window.

The utility becomes higher when a user has opened multiple browsing windows and wants to quickly move to a specific window.

SEO title tag on the browser tab can help a user scroll easily across web pages without the need to manually open each and every tab for inspection of the content.

SEO Title tag Browser tabs

C. Why are Page Titles important for SEO?

Title tags help both the search engine bots and your users understand the gist of a web page without even opening that page. That means they help set the context of the page and understand if the web page satisfies a search query or not.

That’s the reason they are considered as one of the important on-page SEO factors.

You can’t ignore Page Title for the following 3 reasons:-

1. Serves as a ranking factor

As I have been repeatedly saying, search engine bots (and Google) use Title Tag to make a first impression of your page.

The words that are written in your title tag define the way Google indexes and rank your web page.

Therefore, SEO Title Tags directly impact your search engine ranking.

2. Important from branding perspective

If you are a well-known brand, your name in the search results will immediately catch user attention and help in generating engagement.

But if not, you can build your brand by placing your brand name in the title tag. As you rank across more keywords, you will have better brand visibility.

3. Helps improve CTR

Title Tag is the first thing that a user on the search engine page or on social media sees about your page.

Clear, concise and well written Title Tag generates curiosity, improves engagement and result in higher click through rates.

D. What’s the difference between Page Title and H1?

Page Title is what appears on the SERPs, social media snippets and the browser window.

H1 tag appears as the title of the page, once you land on it.

h1 tag vs page title


Page title for OnPage Champ

Modern-day CMSes (like WordPress) make the page title the same as H1, by defualt.

Since both these tags help you describe what follows on the page, you should consider them as a funnel that helps you catch the user’s attention.

Pro Tip: Make your Title Tag and H1 different but around the same idea. It’s always a best practice to use your focus keyword in both.

Consider one of our sample blog posts (on ‘How to Improve Domain Authority’) to see how we do this at OnPage Champ:-

  • The SEO Title of this post talks about how to improve the DA
  • The H1 tag talks about how we at OnPage Champ improved our DA from 1 to 11 in 8 weeks

E. Title Tags SEO best practices:-

#1. Watch the length

Moz suggests keeping your title tag within 50-60 characters to ensure it fits properly on the SERPs.

While this is not an official limit put in by Google, it is an inference based on observation.

SEO Title Tags beyond 60 characters don’t fit in the pixel area specified for search results and get truncated with an ellipsis (…), as shown in the example below.

Truncated SEO title

Debunking a popular belief, there is no penalty for longer titles. It’s just that some important words get truncated.

Therefore, take judgement and write titles with the appropriate length.

#2. Avoid unnecessary capitalization

Capitalize only when necessary.

Capital letters take more character space and result in the early truncation of your title.

Avoid capitalizing the entire text in the title tag. It looks intimidating and captures attention for the wrong reasons.

Instead, you can follow camel casing or capitalize just the starting character of important words, as shown below.

title tag seo best practices avoid unnecessary capitalization
The right way to capitalize without looking intimidating

#3. Do competitor research

Do thorough competitor research to understand how the top-ranking pages have optimized their title tags for SEO.

Your aim should be to understand:-

  • What are the benefits that top-ranking results are pitching in their Page Title?
  • What are the emotions/CTAs/engagement worthy things they have written?

Use that as a learning and inspiration and build on top of your competitors’ success.

You can use OnPage Champ to have one single view of competitor title tags for any keyword, as shown below:-

SERP audit_title tags

#4. Satisfy the user intent

Write a title tag for your user, not just for the search bot.

Understand the intent behind your keyword and the possible action that a user wants to take.

For example, if the user is looking for the best on-page SEO tools, the intent is very clear: the user is looking for a list of tools that are focussed towards on-page SEO. This must be a review article highlighting the benefits of each tool and the possible use cases.

Once you understand the intent, write your Title that satisfies this intent.

This is what we have written as the title of the page:-

SEO Title Tag example

#5. Target one keyword per page

Include just one focus keyword in your page title.

Google can sense when you try to stuff keywords and can automatically change your title tag. Worst, it may result in negative SEO.

Here’s an example of a keyword-stuffed title tag:

Buy Dog Food Best Dog Food, Cheap Dog Food

Will you click on such a result?

I assume No. Then why present something like this to your users.

Instead, a better title tag will be:

Buy Best Dog Food | Guaranteed Saving | Brand Name

#6. Match the content

No doubt your title tag should generate curiosity amongst the readers.

That doesn’t mean you do it through deceptive means.

Make your title an indication of what follows on your page. If there’s a major mismatch, your user will bounce away thus sending a bad signal to Google and impacting your SEO.

#7. Include your brand

If you are a well-known brand, this helps in capturing the search user’s attention right away.

The best practice is to include your brand at the end and letting the focus keyword appear first unless your focus keyword includes your brand (e.g. Apple iPhone 11).


F. Advanced Tips for writing Search Engine optimized Page Titles:-

1. Add emotion to your title tag

Using power words can help you engage your users emotionally, thereby resulting in a click on your title.

Words like “awesome, amazing, freakingly, excruciatingly, etc.” can make your result stand out, at the same time promise a user that your content is the best result for that search query.

However, you have to match your content with the benefit you pitch so that the user’s experience doesn’t break.

2. Front-load the page title (but don’t over-optimize)

Always include your focus keyword in the title tag and that too towards the beginning.

That ensures the search user sees (at the earliest) what he is expecting to see (i.e.his search query), without a possibility of this getting truncated by Google.

Moreover, Google’s algorithm uses Title Tag to determine the context of the page, so an early occurrence of the keyword helps Google understand your web page better.

3. Add brackets to catch the attention

This again is more of a psychological trick than a best practice.

You can use brackets or pipes when writing your page titles.

This helps you write 2 ideas within the same title, without appearing clumsy.

G. When to start experimenting with Page Title?

If your primary marketing medium is social media, you should experiment with your title tags right from day one.

That’s because the half-life of any social media post is rapidly decreasing and your content needs quick engagement in the form of clicks/likes/comments. An optimized Title Tag can help you with this.

It then becomes important to include words/emotions/phrases in your SEO Title Tag that result in a click-through.

If your primary focus is on SEO, you can wait before you start experimenting with your title tag.

Just write an SEO optimized Title Tag for your focus keyword.

Once your page starts ranking on the first page of Google, that’s the time you should start your experimentation.

At that moment, you optimize your Title Tag not for ranking but for improving CTR so that you can reach the coveted first position.

Once you rank in the top 3 results, I would suggest you shouldn’t experiment much with the Title Tag.

However, keep an eye on your top 10 competitors and experiment only if you see them making active changes to their Title Tags

You can use OnPage Champ’s Track URL functionality to track every move of your competitors.

H. Why your Title doesn’t show up on Google as it is?

There will be times when you will see Google showing a title tag that you haven’t written in the first place.

I know that can be frustrating, but you can hardly do anything to correct it.

As per Ahrefs, this can happen (but not limited to) the following 3 reasons:-

  • Your title is spammy, keyword-stuffed or just poorly written and Google just hates it. In that case, Google will rewrite a title for you.
  • Your page is ranking for another query and users are clicking & sticking to your page. Google will rewrite your page title for this other query, just to match the user requirement.
  • Your pages are blocked by robots file but indexed, so Google will use the backlink anchor text to write Title Tags for search users.

I. Conclusion

Just because title tags are short doesn’t mean you should give them less importance.

In fact, they need much more attention and time so that the right signals go to both the search user as well as Google.

Creating page titles is an art that comes with time.

Don’t worry if you have just started. Try to implement a handful of best practices mentioned above and I am sure you will see a positive boost in your SEO.

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