The Most Important HTML Tag

Category: ON-Page SEO

What is a Title Tag?

The Title tag is found in the header section of the html code that makes up a web page. It is the most important tag on the page. When you open up a web page in your browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.), the Title is shown in the browser tab for that page. It is also used for listings on search engine result pages (SERPs).

Each organic listing on a SERP contains a highlighted Title, the link location, and a brief description, either from the Description tag or from snippets taken out of the page copy.

The Title tag is the most important tag for two reasons. It is the most prominent visual element in the search results and it is an important search engine ranking factor.

Google result page

Visual Prominence

The image above is a small section of a Google SERP. There are a number of things to notice about the Title tag. It sticks out because of its size and blue color, and it is the item on the page they click when someone wants to go to a landing page.

When people scan SERPs, they are in a hurry. Often they will scan the titles quickly without taking the time to read the descriptions. This is because scanning a SERP is habitual. People tend to be on auto-pilot mentally while they look for a result that matches their thoughts. If they don't find what they are looking for quickly, then they may slow down for a second scan or simply try another search.

A good, creative Title can be worth thousands of dollars over time.

The better the title, the better chance you get the click. What is a good title? A title that is catchy or as close as possible to the search intent.A good title closely aligned with the search intent will get you more clicks. The person doing the search is trying to translate their intent into keywords, so when your title matches the keywords in the title, they are matching the search intent.

Title Tag And Search Rank

There are many related factors that lead to a page being selected for any particular search query and they all contribute to the success of any individual landing page. However, the Title tag, all other things being equal, can give you a boost over your competition.

The closer your keywords match that of the search, the higher your ranking potential and the more likely you are to have the searcher click on your link. If your title matches the search exactly, then you will be given a higher ranking that your competition. This is highly subjective because there are so many ranking factors, but from my experience, this is true. If you are doing all the other little things, then getting the title right will boost rank.

You can check this out yourself. If a page has Service | Location | Brand in the title, compare the same search to the search that uses Location | Service | Brand. You will notice that Google will place the exact match higher even though the search intent is the same. Of course, this is not always the case when one brand is for superior to the competition, but in a competitive environment matching the search in the title gives you the edge.

META Title Do
  • Limit Title To 60 Characters
  • Include Topic Description
  • Description Should Be Accurate First
  • Description Should Have Good Keywords Second
  • In Other Words, Prioritize Accuracy Or Fidelity To The Content
  • Include Brand Name
  • Include Location Identifier Most Of The Time

If You Don't Get The Click

Your listing is always one among many competing listings,so most of the time, you do not get the link. Even so, being on the search result page means that you have a branding opportunity. That is why it is a good idea for you to put the name of your brand in every title. The name recognition you get by doing is is valuable. The more often potential clients see your name in the search results, the more likely your are going to get a click. That is why so many listings that you see on searches include the name of the brand along with a description of the landing page. If they don't get the click, they get the branding.

Deciding How To Approach Your Title Tags

There are a variety of factors to consider when deciding on the Title format. Is the page a service page or a blog post? Do you have a strong brand or a lesser known brand? Is your business in a clearly defined local area? What keywords best describe your page and do people use those keywords when they search for content? That is a lot to take in, but all these questions should be taken into consideration when deciding on how to write the title tag.

If you follow simple guidelines, you can feel comfortable that you are on the right course. Here are my recommendations:

If you have a strong brand, lead with the brand name. Otherwise, have the brand name at the end of the Title copy. If the page is a service page, use a simple description and location modifier, like spa Tampa or Tampa spa. If it is a blog page, lead with a catchy title that accurately reflects the content and put the brand at the end.

Choosing The Keywords

There are many factors involved in choosing the keywords for your landing page. I am not going to go into a lot of detail here. I'll just say a few things that will point you in the right direction.

First, the keywords should accurately reflect the content of the landing page. This important because you do not want the person who clicked on your page to feel like they have been duped or their time wasted.

Second, you should use at least one primary keyword in the Title tag. You may need to pick out a good keyword and adjust the copy if a good keyword is not in the copy.

Third, include a location identifier. Most of the time, this is good practice. For local businesses this is very important. Even national brands, should produce some content that is focused on small geographic regions (like cities) in order to benefit from local searches.

Fourth, be creative. Have fun with the title tag and try different strategies to hook your audience. Ask a question? Use slang. Go with some attitude. Think about what is going to work for your audience. You have plenty of flexibility.

Don't Let The Title Tag Go To Waste

The information I am presenting here has been around for a long time. People who do Internet marketing and SEO are well aware of these concepts and for the most part do a good job with the Title tag. But it is also surprising how many times I see words like 'home' used in the tag. I can only assume that this due to some lazy people who have set up automated systems and don't bother to check. Don't be that person. The Title tag is important and worthy of careful consideration.