Best practices for writing attention-grabbing and search-friendly SEO page titles.
Does your page title really matter?
Have you noticed how tough it is to craft a superb page title for your website? I mean the kind that attracts readers but also works for your SEO?
You’re not alone.
In many ways, the reason we struggle to come up with an effective title tag is because we know that the initial success of an entire page—whether it results in clicks or not—hinges largely on those first few words.
There’s a lot of pressure to get those few words just right. And for good reason!
Here’s why a high-quality page title is so important.
The ranking factor
If you want your page to rank well, then you need to put extra thought into your title tag. That’s because search engines use the <title> tag to determine whether your page is relevant to a particular search query—it plays a role in determining when and where your page will appear in search.
The first impression factor
Your SEO page title is the first thing a person will see that’s related to (1) their search and (2) your brand. From this early stage, which could very well be the very first touch point with your business, your page title has the important task of shaping perception. What can a user expect on the page? Are you an expert on this topic? Do you provide something that others don’t?
The deciding factor
Considering search queries result in hundreds if not thousands of results, how does a user choose which pages to visit? Simple: Your audience will refer to the search snippet link title as well as the meta description to determine whether a page addresses their search intent (or not) and whether they should click through (or not). In other words, the title is where you appeal to readers to pick your page over others.
SEO title vs page title: What’s the difference?
By the way, in case you were wondering, yes there’s a difference between a page (or post) title and the title tag or what’s often referred to as an SEO title.
Here’s what you need to know.
SEO title = <title> tag
An SEO title or title tag is:
- Displayed on a search engine result page (SERP) as the clickable blue link of a search snippet
- Intended for people who haven’t made it to your website yet—they’re people you’re trying to attract
- Often what entices users to click through to a page
- Visible in the browser’s title bar (tabs) and shown when your content is shared across platforms like social media posts and in chat messages
Page title = <H1> tag
A page / post title or 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’
- Intended to be read by people who are already on your page / website
- Designed to tell readers what that page or post is all about
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.
- You forgot to use your primary keyword in the page title, so you make sure to have it in the SEO title
- The page title may not work as well at attracting readers on search engine results pages
- Your page title is too long (it will be truncated) and so you craft a more concise SEO title
SEO page title best practices: Tips from a pro copywriter
By now it should be pretty clear that your page title isn’t (and should never be) an afterthought.
As with everything else you write, a great page title is carefully crafted to be appealing, attention-grabbing, and search-friendly—it’s not something you thoughtlessly whip up with hopes that it will somehow work out for the best!
If you want to write an effective page title, then take note of the following SEO page title best practices.
1. Use proper formatting
Thinking of using an entirely uppercase title to standout on SERPs? Or what about toggle case to be different?
All caps page titles very rarely work the way you’d want them to. And toggle case even less! In fact, you’ll come across as scammy, immature, or unprofessional. In other words, that’s the best way to deter people from clicking through. Instead, stick to sentence or title case instead.
- ✅ Sentence case: “How to craft SEO-friendly title tags”
- ✅ Title case: “How to Craft SEO-Friendly Title Tags”
- ❌ Uppercase: “HOW TO CRAFT SEO-FRIENDLY TITLE TAGS”
- ❌ Toggle case: “HoW to CRAFt sEO-friENDLy tItTLe taGS”
2. Be descriptive, not deceptive
Since you can’t write an entirely capitalized page title to grab attention, what about baiting people to click through to your page?
It goes without saying that your title tag should be an accurate depiction of what is contained in the linked page. Building on that, ideally, you want a certain degree of specificity—you don’t want to be vague.
Remember that a descriptive title is helpful. And the more helpful it is, the higher the chances of someone clicking on your link.
For instance, let’s say your post is about all the things to consider when selecting and then purchasing a bike for downhill mountainous terrain.
- ✅ “How to choose the best downhill mountain bike”
- ✅ “The best downhill mountain bikes in 2021”
- ❌ “Downhill mountain bike”
- ❌ “How to choose a bike”
There’s a clear difference in expectation between “how to choose a bike”, which doesn’t specify terrain, performance, etc. and “how to choose the best downhill mountain bike”, which is clear that you’re going to be reading all about mountain bikes for downhill use.
There’s another benefit to descriptive titles: They attract your target audience. In this scenario, someone searching for an urban bike knows from the title alone that this isn’t the article for him.
3. Keep it concise
Descriptive does not mean writing super long titles or being verbose. You still want to stick within recommended character limits, so that your page title doesn’t get cut short or truncated. Keep in mind that the best SEO page titles are between 50-60 characters.
- ✅ “The history of chocolate: Where does it come from?” [50 characters]
- ✅ “Wholesale Coffee Roasters and Equipment For Sale | Best Brew” [60 characters]
- ❌ “Which cultures were the first to consume chocolate? A detailed look at the history of chocolate and where it comes from” [119 characters]
- ❌ “Best Brew: Wholesale Coffee Roasters, Roasting Machines, Other Equipments and Supplies” [86 characters]
4. Every page should have an original title
Every single page on your website should have its own unique SEO title. That includes product pages—no matter how similar the item!
Let’s say you sell artisan bean-to-bar chocolates. Your product pages might have titles like:
- ✅ “65% Dark Chocolate with Cacao Nibs – [Brand Name]”
- ✅ “70% Dark Chocolate with Mango – [Brand Name]”
You won’t have 10 product pages with one boilerplate title like:
- ❌ “Dark chocolate bar – [Brand Name]”
5. Avoid keyword stuffing
While SEO page titles definitely contain keywords, that doesn’t mean you should overload the title tag with them.
- ✅ “Colorful Kid’s Socks – Soft and Fluffy Socks at Tippy Toes”
- ✅ “Men’s Novelty Socks | Shop 100+ Customizable Designs”
- ❌ “Kid’s socks, children’s socks, socks for kids”
- ❌ “Men’s socks, dress socks, sports socks, winter socks, summer bamboo socks”
Ideally, you want to put your primary keywords at the beginning of the page title. Searchers are more likely to see them there.
If you’ve already published your page for the world to see but aren’t happy with your CTR, remember that it’s never too late to optimize your copy and page titles for SEO. You can start by implementing these SEO page title tips or skip the hassle (of keyword research, rewriting, and optimizing) entirely and just leave it to me!