Meta Title Guidelines and Best Practices for Reader Friendly SEO

You’ve probably heard about meta descriptions, but meta titles may be a bit more enigmatic, as most people don’t consider the work that an excellent title can do for their search engine rankings. Meta titles essentially show the name of the webpage, but a lot of thought goes into crafting them. Are your titles serving their purpose of increasing your search engine rankings?

Why Meta Titles?

Meta titles are seen by not only the searchers, but also the “bots” that crawl through websites picking up data to complete the ranking algorithm. It can be a balancing act creating titles that serve our AI overlords, and still sound interesting and natural to our readers.

Meta titles should serve a dual purpose– they should work to draw in visitors, while still placing a strong emphasis on keyword search popularity and relevance, in terms of the keywords that you’re plugging on that particular page. Just as with content and meta descriptions, SEO practices are nothing without visitors, and you won’t get visitors without proper SEO practices. It’s two sides of a very important coin, and doing it right can land more coin in your pocket.

Creating Powerful Meta Titles

For the sake of example, we’ll be using the keyword “puppy training tips” and variations thereof for our searches.

  1. Always be aware of length. If the title tag is too long, it will get snipped, and critical words could be left off the end, affecting your search engine rankings. While 60-characters is a good general rule, it’s a little more complicated than that. Every title gets a 600-pixel “container.” Anything that hangs outside of the container is cut off and followed by an ellipsis…

    It gets even more complicated, as certain letters, for example W and E, take up far more space than thin letters, like i and l. That being said, always avoid writing in ALL CAPS for your titles, as this is taking up a lot of unnecessary space within your title container. While there are no “penalties,” per se, for using longer titles, it pays to be mindful and to ensure that you’re message is getting across the way that you’re intending it to.

  2. Every single page on your website should have a different, and well-optimized, title. Doing so helps search engines understand that your content is unique. Unique, valuable content is critical to climbing the SERP rankings, so putting in the effort is worthwhile. It may seem an impossible task, especially if you’re dealing with hundreds or thousands of pages within your website. 

    A great tool for online shops is a code-based template that automatically creates a title according to the specifications you put forth. These templates can easily create titles such as [Product Name]- [Product Category] | [Brand Name]. For example: Hairy Mutt Hair Clippers- Grooming Supplies | Hairy Mutt Products.

    It is especially important that you avoid letting default titles remain on your website when you make a new page. If all your pages are titled “New Page,” Google will that that you have duplicate pages and ignore them when crawling your site. Even worse, it can create a sense of distrust for your site for the customer. They’re unlikely to click on a site where the title is “New Page,” instead of something that actually helps them find the product they are looking for.

  3. Don’t overstuff your title with keywords. While important that you use the main keyword of the page in your title, avoid using it repeatedly or using variations of it in the same title. Search engines already understand keyword variations, so going through the trouble is unnecessary.

    Keyword stuffing can also make your site look “spammy,” or like it’s not to be trusted for information. Remember that bit we wrote about using interesting, natural language? This flies completely in the face of that critical step in writing powerful meta titles. In the example below, this overstuffed title was all the way on the 14th SERP. How often do you go all the way back to page 14 when you perform a search?

  4. Keywords that are closer to the beginning of the title have a bigger impact on search engine page rankings. Searchers often only scan the first few words of a title, so ensuring that they see that you have information on what they’re searching for is critical to landing those increased click-through rates.

    Additionally, if your titles are cut off due to length, you’re not losing the most important bits to the dreaded ellipsis… Think of it as having dessert before dinner, so that you can make sure you’re not too full to eat cake.

  5. Always, always, always write for real people. You could theoretically have the #1 search engine ranking for a keyword, according to SEO practices, but lose click-through rates if your writing isn’t naturally attractive to readers. Keep your titles targeted to those who are going to find your content valuable. Having an excellent meta title is putting your best face forward for potential visitors. Make a good first impression, and you’re going to see the results.

Does the thought of writing meta titles make you feel overwhelmed? Are you frantically searching through your website and seeing the dreaded “New Page” title on every page? Nativ3 understands, and we’re here to help. We have experiencing creating search engine optimized, reader-friendly title tags that are going to increase click-through rates.

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