Write a Relevant Meta Title for your Product
What is a Meta Title?
Note the meta title is also known as a title, page title, SEO title, or title tag.
A title tag is a concise and accurate description of the web page's content. The title tag is the first thing a user sees in search results. It is also a very important factor search engines use to determine the topic of a page.
Title tag or main heading?
First, let’s get some confusion out of the way: we’re talking about the HTML title tag. If you look at the source of a web page, you’ll find it in the head section, and it looks like this:
<title>This is an example page title - Example.com</title>
In tabbed browsers, this title is usually shown in the page tab. Don’t confuse it with the main heading of the page, which the user sees on the page itself.
Purpose of the page title
There are two goals that a good title must achieve:
- it must help you rank for a keyword;
- it must make the user want to click through to your page.
These two goals are not mutually exclusive, but they do sometimes have competing interests. If you’re ranking well, but nobody is clicking on your result, that ranking isn’t doing you much good. Be warned that if you’re ranking but never getting clicks, your rankings might deteriorate over time.
titles and click-through rates
Google uses the CTR (click-through rate) to help it decide how relevant you are for a specific keyword. If your CTR is lower than the number that Google expects for a certain position, your rankings will drop. The opposite is also true, so a title lower down that gets people to click will also help you rank better.
Include your focus keyword in the title tag. The page title is one of Google’s most important ways of figuring out your page’s topic, so not having the focus keyword in the title severely damages your chance of ranking.
A meta title shows the name of a web page. The title is displayed by the browser, usually at the top of your computer screen or on a tab, and tells a reader what page they are on. Meta titles are also read by search engine robots and seen by site visitors so it is important to have a strong title for search engines, but one that still makes sense to your human website visitors.
The meta title was once very important for helping the page rank higher in search engine returns and many webmasters wrote them to cater only to search engine robots first without much regard for how it read to website visitors. Search engines still hold meta title in high regard.
Meta titles should make sense to the reader, but the wording should also be based on keyword search popularity and relevance to the rest of the web page including other meta data and content. As you may have guessed, meta titles are important to think about, but should also sound natural to the reader.
Page titles and branding
The page title should have your brand (site name) in it.
Social media and page titles
What might be a good title tag for SEO isn’t necessarily a good title for social media. In social media, keyword optimization is less important than creating a title that entices people to click.
For social media, you often don’t need to include the brand name in the title. This is especially true for Facebook and Twitter if you include some form of branding in your post image.
You can have a separate title for Facebook, Twitter and Google. Just enter the Google title in the Yoast SEO snippet editor. The Facebook and Twitter title can be entered on the social tab in their respective fields. If you don’t enter a specific Twitter title, Twitter will use the Facebook title instead.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Creating Meta Titles
The biggest mistakes you can make when creating a meta title for your page are:
- Not creating any page title at all. Every page of content needs a title.
- Making titles too long. Long page titles are truncated and search engines stop reading after a certain number of characters. Limit your title to 70 characters maximum, including spaces and punctuation.
- Naming your page the same name as your website or business name
- Naming all your pages the same name, or something similar to each other
- Naming the page without connecting it to your content and other meta data
- Repeating (spamming) keywords in titles.
- Each page title should be unique. A site may be penalized for duplicate page titles.
As of May 2016, Google increased maximum number of characters to 70 for a meta title.
If you are having trouble figuring out what keywords to focus on, you can use keyword selector tools and keyword density tools to help you write your meta title.
Examples of Bad Meta Titles
The following example meta titles are too vague and do not give search engine robots or you website readers enough information:
- Population Statistics
- Chocolate Indulgence
- E-Z Tax Tips
Examples of Good Meta Titles
- Easy Tips on Growing Flowering Shrubs
- 2008 Population Statistics, Number of People In the US
- Best Baked Coca Recipes Chocolate Cake
- Tax Advice - How to Pay Less In Taxes
Note that the above title tags accomplish three things:
- They help robots understand what is most important about the content on the page by repeating part of the keyword phrases that would be found in article titles and content;
- They make sense to people reading them; and
- By using different words meaning the same or similar things without actually repeating them (spam) and using plurals when sensible, it allows for greater possibilities for appearing in searches for the same information but on different terms.
Title tags are used for SEO, usability, and social sharing.
- The brief title and description of a page as appears at the top of a browser window
- The default name for user-created bookmarks
- Search engine rankings
- The clickable headline of a search result
- The headline of a link when shared on social media
Optimal title length for SEO
Generally, a title should be long enough to be clear; short enough to avoid being truncated. Truncation happens when a title is too long and means that only part of your title will show in search engine results.
The optimal length for a title is determined by how much of it Google will show in their search results. How the results look may also vary, depending on the device you’re using.
Search engine robots may also only read a certain number of characters in certain types of meta data and then they ignore the rest and just move on. Different search engines read different numbers of characters but if you keep your titles less than 55 characters you will keep most major search engine robots happy. Although Google sometimes seems to stop just shy of 55 characters based on their chosen font and how much linear space individual characters take up, aim for 55 characters and you should be fine.
The punctuations that you can use are: hyphen, underscores, pipes, colon,
ampersand. - | _ : &
The punctuations that should be avoided are: ' + . , | ! " $ % / ( ) = ? ^ * ; > ] [ @'
Search Result Example
Here is an example in Google search results of where the meta title and meta description show up. You can see it is the top line, highlighted, and what most people see first.
<title>Machu Picchu: Facts & History - LiveScience</title>
Tips on How to Create Powerful Meta Titles
When creating meta titles:
- Use important keywords first
- Do repeat keyword ideas in different words - no more than twice is usually best and keywords should not be identical within the same meta data string
- Do tie these phrases to your content and other meta data
- Do use plurals and word variations when possible
- Do limit the use of punctuation
- Do use initial caps throughout the title
- Put brand or company name at the end of the meta title
Meta Titles not Always Used
Sometimes search engines do not explicitly use the web page's meta title. They will use what they feel is the best for their users.
Catering to search engines is important - but that only means following their recommended practices and not forgetting about your human site visitors. When writing meta titles just ask yourself how does it sound when you read it out loud to others - does it make sense? Would they know what you are talking about? If not, then you are thinking too hard about appeasing search engines and not enough about your audience. In the long run, you are much better off creating human-friendly meta title.
slscart and Meta Titles
A meta title is best added to slscart in the template using the tic %TITLE_TAG%. Here is an example. It goes in the <head> area. It should go after the %META_TAGS% tic. Note that the <title> tag must be entered.
<head> ... %META_TAGS% <title>%TITLE_TAG%</title> ... </head>
The %TITLE_TAG% will be replaced with the meta title or an alternative.
slscart makes it easy to enter in a custom meta title for a particular instance. Each of the following has a meta title field to provide a unique title tag:
- Blog entry
- Catalog page
- Home page
- KB article
- Other pages
Normally the title tag is used. However, if left blank, an alternative is used. Note the catalog page and home page are special cases of a page.
If catalog page or home page:
if category selected then its meta title otherwise category's name
if an item is selected then its meta title otherwise item's name
if a catalog number is selected then its meta title otherwise item's name
if a specific brand chosen, the brand is used
If article then article's meta title otherwise article's name
If blog entry then blog entry's meta title otherwise it's title
If category then it's meta title otherwise it's category name
If kb article then it's meta title otherwise it's title
A product's meta title is used otherwise it's item name.
For all other pages:
If filled in the page's meta title otherwise the site name.
Otherwise use default meta title which is site's meta title.