Design and optimize all of your title tags to boost click-through rate and search rankings by ensuring each one draws searchers’ attentions and accurately describes the webpage.
Although the top three Google search results get 79 percent of all clicks, you’ve only got 2.6 seconds to get the attention of a new visitor or risk them bouncing to a different listing.
Too many marketers don’t understand this critical step in the process of a person choosing which site to visit from search and therefore, disregard the title tag of a webpage as a minor detail.
A title tag is actually a key factor a person considers before deciding to click on a search listing, as well as an indication to Google that a page is relevant to a particular query.
“Think of a title tag as the headline of an article drawing in readers by being unique, useful, ultra-specific, and urgent as compared to other search listings for the same keywords,” says Jarrod Hunt, CMO and co-founder of Digital Current.
In a lot of cases, a marketer or a website administrator will set up the meta tags for their pages across a website and then never review them again.
Your title tags should be reviewed consistently to ensure they are driving a high click-through-rate (CTR) for relevant searches, otherwise your rankings will slowly drop.
Not only do title tags encourage users to visit your website for more information on a topic, but Google reviews the CTR of your existing content ranking in search to decide whether the webpage is still a relevant resource as compared to others.
“Achieving high rankings isn’t enough on its own to drive qualified traffic to your website that converts, which is where the title tag comes into play,” adds Hunt.
The best title tags are crafted like ads to capture the attention of searchers, quickly relaying whether the subject of a page is relevant to their needs.
It’s time to learn how to write title tags that increase your CTR and rankings by updating them regularly to ensure they match the search query and compete with others.
Elements of a Successful Title Tag
Many SEO professionals focus on the specific keywords used and their positioning within a title tag, which is an important consideration, but optimizing shouldn’t just stop there.
Above all, an effective title tag should highlight how a page addresses a searcher’s query, whether by answering a specific question, resolving a pain point, or providing more information on a subject.
For example, a search for “how many moving boxes do I need” produces the following results, the first and third title tags are descriptive, while the second is far too brief.
The listing in the number-one position, and for good reason, includes a title tag that clarifies that the page offers a packing calculator and then provides additional context for how it’s useful with the phrase: “Figure Out How Many Boxes You Need.”
The third search listing’s title tag includes the phrase “Estimating the Number of Boxes for Moving,” which clarifies that this resource estimates how many boxes you’ll need if you’re moving, a specific use case that could drive qualified searchers to their site.
The issue with the second listing is that the title tag doesn’t supply as much relevant information as it could to entice clicks, other than the fact it identifies it’s from Home Depot. The brand name likely drives clicks for the listing since it’s well-known and the meta description is informative, but the title tag remains a missed opportunity.
There is more room in the title to provide insight into the contents of the page to better compete with other top ranking resources, but they neglected to add more context, likely resulting in a lower CTR.
“Now that Google can better understand concepts and relationships between keywords, it is much easier to write for users and search engines alike,” says AJ Ghergich, SEO and content marketing expert and founder of Ghergich & Co.
“I strongly suggest using your title tag to answer a user’s search intent first, and optimize for keywords second.”
Ghergich’s Process for Creating Results-Driven Meta Tags
- Position your most important keyword phrase at the start of your title tag. Keywords and close variants used will appear bold on Google, which helps you stand out.
- Use the rest of the title to make it engaging by providing context based on the query.
- Use the meta description to complement your title tag and compel the user to click it. While it does not directly influence rankings, it does impact the CTR of your title tag.
- Do your best to keep the title tag to around 55 characters in length, while the meta description should average 145 characters.
- Don’t waste valuable title tag space on brand names, unless your brand is well-known in your industry. Otherwise, mention your brand in the meta description.
- Score your title tag with headline tools like Headline Analyzer — just don’t get too sensational. Your page has to deliver on the promise of the title tag, so always keep it accurate to manage expectations.
- Find any other meta tags with low CTR in Google’s Search Console and rewrite them.
See What Your Competitors’ Title Tags Look Like
Another major consideration when crafting an effective title tag is reviewing what your competitors are choosing for title tags on the same search listings and altering your approach to drive more clicks and attention.
Techniques for updating a title tag to draw attention away from competitors and increase the CTR of your listings include:
- Focusing on the specific context of how the page’s information can be used
- Pricing considerations for products and services
- Highlighting the quality of the facts, figures, data, or statistics included
- Timeliness and relevancy of the page’s contents
- The type of content included on the page like a video vs. a presentation
- Including special characters, numbers, or even brackets to stand out
Never use timeliness, special characters, or any other element within your title tags as a way of tricking users to visit your webpage, but only as a means for accurately reflecting what insights the page offers.
Misleading searchers will result in an initial high CTR, but a high bounce rate at the same time, which will negatively affect your rankings. This would also provide a less than satisfactory experience for potential customers, reducing the chances they click on a link of yours in the future.
Updating Title Tags Across Key Pages
If your organization has the bandwidth, keep your title tags competitive by updating them once a month.
However, if you have limited resources, review your analytics and identify your most profitable and highly trafficked webpages. Optimize and refresh the title tags on these key pages monthly to increase CTR, maintain your existing rankings, and drive more traffic from your SEO efforts.
Don’t limit title tag optimization to just articles and content-focused pages on your websites. Product and service pages should also be regularly updated to drive more qualified traffic.
Use tools like Headline Optimizer to further scale the process of testing different title tags to find the best option to choose in a shorter period of time.
According to YoRocket’s founder Brian Dean, the tool analyzes six known factors that impact CTR in search, which any organization should consider when crafting title tags:
- Title tag length. Too long or too short = not good.
- Use of “magnet words.” These emotional, descriptive words are copywriting staples that boost CTR significantly.
- Sentiment. Titles with a positive or negative sentiment get a better CTR than titles with a neutral sentiment.
- Active voice. The active voice grabs attention better than passive voice.
- Use of a number. In general, titles with numbers do better than titles without numbers; uneven numbers especially.
- Use of brackets or parentheses. Putting text inside of brackets can significantly improve CTR, though doesn’t affect SEO.
Enter your desired title tag into either YoRocket or Headline Optimizer and each will provide recommendations on how to improve it to drive more clicks and traffic from Google.
Start Improving CTR With Better Meta Tags Today
How often does your organization optimize your pages and title tags to keep them competitive in search? What techniques for refreshing your various meta tags drove results? Let us know over on Twitter @DigitalCurrent.