How do you craft an effective title tag?

An effective meta title tag helps your page perform better on search engines and improves your click-through rate.

That’s why, in addition to compelling copy and content, you also need to know how to write a great page title, meta title tag and description.

Title tag vs H1 tag

Are you confused about the difference between a title tag and an H1 tag?

Here’s what you need to know.

A title tag is:

  • Displayed on a search engine result page
  • Visible in the browser’s title bar
  • Shown when your content is shared across platforms

An H1 tag is:

  • Normally used as the title of a page or a post
  • Displayed on the actual page or post → usually as the first heading, hence ‘H1’

Most of the time an H1 tag will also be used as the title tag, but there are times when that isn’t the case. Here’s an example from my blog.

Example of a title tag as it appears on a search engine result page

The title tag for that post shows up as “Email Marketing Tips – Get Your Newsletter Read – Radiant …” in search engines.

What the title tag looks like in the web browser title bar

That’s also what you’ll see in your web browser’s title bar.

Sometimes the H1 tag is different from the title tag

But click through to the page and you’ll see that the H1 tag for this post is different. It’s “Email Marketing: Tips For Creating Newsletters That Get Read”.

Why is the title tag important?

The title tag is particularly important because it’s one way Google gauges what your page is all about.

It’s also what a customer or prospect sees before deciding to go to your page.

In other words, it’s the first impression someone will have—and sets the foundation for what to expect.

That means you’ll want to craft a title tag that attracts attention and convinces searchers to click through.

How to write good meta titles

While SEO is not my area of expertise, over the years I’ve picked up helpful title tag writing guidelines from experience that you can use for your small business.

In no particular order, those page title best practices are:

1.    Use proper formatting

Don’t resort to an entirely uppercase title. Trust me, they very rarely work the way you’d want them to. You’ll just come across as scammy. Stick to sentence or title case instead.

Examples:

  • Sentence case: “How to craft SEO-friendly title tags”
  • Title case: “How to Craft SEO-Friendly Title Tags”

2.    No clickbait please

It goes without saying that your title tag should be an accurate depiction of what is contained in the linked page.

You can be general if you want but a certain degree of specificity tends to be more helpful to searchers. And the more helpful it is, the higher the chances of someone clicking on your link—and staying on the page.

To put this into perspective, there’s a clear difference in expectation between ‘how to choose a bike’ vs ‘how to choose the best downhill mountain bike’ or ‘how to choose the best urban bike’.

3.    Original titles work best

Every single page on your website should ideally have its own unique title. Even if you’re short on time or ideas, avoid repeating (copy / pasting) titles or using boilerplate text. The effort of crafting individual titles for your pages will pay off.

4.    Keywords are important

You’ll want to incorporate keywords into your title tag but don’t go overboard. Find one or two main keywords or consider the use of long-tail keywords. Make sure you’ve researched and are using the language your prospects actually use.

Finally, where possible, put your chosen keywords at the beginning. Searchers are more likely to see them there and that means there’s a greater likelihood of capturing their attention.

5.    Keep only what is needed

Your title should be descriptive, but that doesn’t mean it should be unnecessarily long. Remember that, like meta descriptions, title tags get truncated.

If you want the full title to be visible in the search engine result page, aim for one that is between 50 to 60 characters or approximately 600 pixels.

Now take a look at your current page titles. See room for improvement? Then it’s time to start optimising!