Title Champs: 4 Tips on Creating Killer Titles for the Purpose of SEO
The attraction was to my mind, immediate. The cover was intriguing but not exactly revealing and the blurb included references to Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, which is like catnip to me during those early years of college but it’s the title that I felt most connected to, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I had inkling on what the word wallflower means in the title and while I realize what a cliche it is for me to say that I see myself in the book, I can definitely relate to a lot of the things that are portrayed in the book.
I studied electrical engineering in college and I didn’t exactly have people around me that I could talk about books with. If I’m in need of something to read, I typically just walk into this local book store I frequent and pick up anything that looks interesting. I wasn’t in the habit of looking up every single book back then so my choice would depend on the cover of the book, the blurbs and like with Perks, the title of the book. Title isn’t just important for books, as I’m going to explain later on, title is also an important topic of discussion for SEO services as a webpage’s click-through rate (CTR) heavily depends on the page’s title.
Titles for the purpose of SEO
In the world of SEO and web development in general, the word title can actually refer to two different things. The first refers to main heading, which is the title you’d see when you’re looking at the actual page. The second, and the main point of the discussion, is the HTML title tag, which you’d see when the page is question is listed on a search engine results page for your query or in the page tab in your browser. For the purpose of SEO, the HTML title tag is arguably more important as a user’s decision on whether to visit the page heavily relies on what they see on Google.
Typically, there wouldn’t be any difference between these two titles but in certain cases, they’d be different. For example, let’s look at My Family’s Slave, a non-fiction story written by the late Alex Tizon that was published posthumously in June 2017 on the Atlantic. If you typed My Family’s Slave into Google, the top result would be that story but on Google, the title of the story would read as A Story of Slavery in Modern America even if those words never actually appear in the actual story.
My Family’s Slave isn’t a bad title but it’s also not very descriptive and A Story of Slavery in Modern America tells you a lot more about what you’re about to see. Someone who’s looking for examples of contemporary slavery would be more likely to be interested in the latter over the former, which is why the HTML title tag is very important for the purpose of SEO. Remember, main heading is for the people who are already looking at the page while HTML title tag bears the burden of generating traffic to your website and the following tips could help your business write better title tags.
Be mindful of the length
If it’s on your own terms, you’re free to write titles as long as you could possibly want so if you’d like to release an album with a title The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do, you’re free to do that. In the case of SERP however, search engines holds most of the power and if you want to have any success at optimizing your CTR, you’re going to have to play by their rules. Google has a limit on title length and any character that exists past that limit would be replaced with an ellipsis.
The tricky thing with this limit is that it’s based purely on length instead of the amount of character but there are several tools out there such as the one from Yoast that could help make sure that your titles falls under Google’s limit. Titles that are too long aren’t good but as can be seen in the My Family’s Slave example above, short titles aren’t necessarily good either; the goal should always be in moderation. Additionally, desktop and mobile SERP has different limit so experiment with both until you can find a title length you’re perfectly happy with.
Be descriptive with your title
In the artistic realm, some creative liberties with titles are always allowed. The Breakfast Club isn’t really about a breakfast club and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind would only make sense if you’re actually familiar with the poem where that line comes from. For the purpose of SEO however, you might want to tone down the creativity a little bit and instead focuses on coming up with a descriptive title that best represents the article in mind while still piquing people’s interest. It’s not exactly an easy job but I never said this was going to be easy.
If possible, include your company name on your title
In any given SERP, people tend to read only two things, the title of the page and the meta-description. The actual URL of the page sandwiched between the two is usually overlooked and once people have clicked on the page, it’s also pretty common to jump into the content without seeing the company behind the page they’re actually looking at. All of the above has the implication that people might not pay attention to the name of your company even when they clicked to your page, a problem than can be solved by simple adding your company name to the HTML title tags, preferably separated by a hyphen for clarity.
Include keyword on the title
While search engines are getting smarter at figuring what a webpage is about without you having to tell them so, they definitely could use a little help every now and then and you can do this by including a keyword on the title. You don’t want to stuff the title with a bunch of repeated and irrelevant words so use keywords that actually flow naturally with the rest of the title. For example, notice how I included the word SEO in the title of this piece?