Best Practices for a Title Tag

UPDATE AS OF MAY 2016

Google has increased the width of the organic search results column. This is currently being rolled out internationally, but we are unsure if this is temporary or permanent at this point.

With a larger width now, your title length can now accommodate more characters. The previous recommended length of 50 - 65 characters has now been increased to 70 characters. This will provide more room for your to play with when it comes to titling your content.

However, don't be in a rush to tweak all previous title tags just for this change. If your pages are functioning well in SEO, let them work their magic.

What Is a Title Tag?

The title tag is the clickable element that is displayed as the headline in the search engine results pages (SERPs), and it is one of the first components that searchers see. Due to this, it is said that a title tag is the most powerful single tag on a website as it encourages a higher click-through rate (CTR).

Once a searcher clicks the link, the title tag doesn’t appear on the web page itself, but users will still see the title tag at the top of their browsers, on the tab. Furthermore, it also provides a title for the page when it is added to favourites (it will be suggested as a name of the bookmark). When it comes to Bing, when a user types keywords that are included in a specific title tag, Bing will bold these words; this makes the search results clear and visible.

How to Create a Title Tag?

It’s important to optimize a title tag in all aspects; it has to be clear for the users but also well composed technically. When it comes to the technical aspect, the <title> tag element is required in all HTML documents. You can’t have more than one title element in an HTML document.

A title tag looks like this:

                               <head>
                        <title> text </title>
                              </head>

How to Create an Good Title Tag:

There is not one unified pattern, or universal formula to create a successful title tag. Every title tag needs to be custom-tailored for your business, industry, service, and website content. However, here are some rules and tips that can help you in writing a strong, well-optimized title.

A Title Tag Cheat Sheet:

  • Size
    • Title tag should be 512 pixel wide
    • The length depends on the size of the chosen font

Keep in mind that Google search results use the proportional Arial font. Therefore, narrow characters, like “1” or “i”, consume less space than wide characters, like “8” or “W.” Also, capital letters are wider than the lowercase letters

  • Length
    • Recommended to be around 50-65 characters
      • Bing shows 65 characters
      • Yahoo shows up to 67 characters
      • Google shows 50-60 characters

If your title tag is too long, search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo will cut it off with an ellipsis mark- “...”

Title Tag Do’s:

  • Use verbs, nouns and symbols (for example instead of the word “and”, “&” will look better)
    • Use pronouns, particles, conjunctions
    • Use symbols like the vertical bar- “|”, to separate the sections, (i.e. the brand name or location)
    • Make it natural sounding and well composed
  • Use your business name and location
    • Add this information at the end of a title tag
  • Keep it relevant and clean
    • Make it match or resemble the page content
    • Use synonyms and descriptive words for the content
  • Only one title tag per page
    • Create new title tags for each page of your site
  • Use great keywords based on keyword research
    • Put your keywords at the beginning of the title tag
    • Make it sound natural
    • Avoid keyword stuffing
  • On your homepage, use your Company name/ Brand name at the end of a title tag

Title Tag Dont’s:

  • Use underscores, commas, and dashes
  • Make it grammatically complicated
  • Avoid being cryptic
  • Duplicate any title tags on your site; it’ll be considered duplicate content
  • If it’s not your homepage, don’t use your the brand name

After all is said and done, what matters the most is to make the title tag logical, clear and clickable, so let’s not be over the top with counting every single character. A well thought out, clean and good content title (with a rich content page behind it) should rank well, even if it’s longer than 60 characters.