Trends in Title Tag Design

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It’s difficult to overstate the importance of title elements when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO). The title of your website or Web page as it appears on a search engine results page (SERP) is an important factor when it comes to how well you ultimately end up ranking.

For those unfamiliar, title elements (or “title tags,” as they’re sometimes referred to) is the text that describes an online document, and they appear in the top of a browser, in the SERPs and, may often be used by other websites as anchor text. 

The title element is often referred to as the most important aspect of on-page SEO, as it is the first thing that both search engines and users will see about your page – and we all know that first impressions are everything.

Best Practices for Title Elements

It is necessary to create descriptive, relevant title tags for your website and Web pages. In particular, you should be sure to include as many keywords as possible (while still sounding natural), as search engines will highlight those terms in the SERPs by bolding them, which helps increase visibility and, thus, click-through rates, as well.

However, when coming up with a title, you need to be aware of the length restrictions, as search engines will only show upwards of 70 characters. You should also include keywords as close to the front of the title tag as possible, and put branding (company name, etc.) at the end of the title, so that the keywords are given prominence. There is an exception to this, though; if your brand is well-known, and the name itself could be considered a keyword, you can (and probably should) put the branding up front.

Most of all, it’s important to remember that a good title tag is brand-focused, original and action-oriented. With that in mind, let’s look at the title elements of some of the best brands on the Web over various industries (retail, media, finance, lifestyle, technology and service providers) on both Google and Bing.

 

Retail

When you’re a huge name in retail like The Home Depot, all you really need to do (apparently) to bring in consumers is make sure that your website is clearly identified with your brand name. However, for a lesser-known company like Vistaprint, it is important to include keywords about the kind of products or services you can offer for users that may not be searching for your brand name.

Media

There are a whole lot of different media websites on the Internet, so the best way to stand out is to use a keyword-focused title tag that tells users exactly what kind of information your site offers, just like TMZ and Forbes.

Finance

Both Capital One and Investopedia know that their brand names are going to be the main way that users search for them on the Internet, so they put those first in their title tags. Then, each of them gave a short, succinct description about what services their sites provide to users that include relevant and highly searchable keywords, especially in Capital One’s case.

Lifestyle

Ancestry.com offers one of the best title tags, as it places all of its relevant keywords at the front of the title and makes the whole thing a bit more actionable by saying “at Ancestry.com,” rather than simply including the site’s name at the end of a string of keywords. The much more popular NFL brand, knowing that it’s name alone will be search for often, only has to include it’s name, but it makes sure to do it twice, just to be safe.

Technology

Major companies like Adobe and Microsoft don’t really have to do much more than include their names in their title tags. Adobe takes a the minimalist approach and just puts its branding in there, while Microsoft also adds some additional information that indicates to users just which Microsoft website and Web page (out of the hundreds of possibilities) they’re looking at.

Service Providers

The title tag for WebMD is all about branding, as more information-oriented searches will lead users to specific Web pages on the site; so, in lieu of adding all of the different services that WebMD offers, the site has opted for a cleaner title and put that additional information in the meta description area, instead. On the other hand, Kelley Blue Book’s title elements include all of the company’s most important keywords.

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13 comments

Jack Kennard 01-29-2013 3:30 PM

What do you think of adding the brand on the home page at the beginning so it shows up in the tab in the browser (with a favicon of course).

LauraB 01-29-2013 3:36 PM

Oh man, please tell me you realize that the title tag is not being displayed in the SERP for Home Depot.  They are using the brand name from other signals (perhaps DMOZ since they don't have a meta robots noydir, noopd), not the title tag. The actual title tag is "Home Improvement Made Easy with New Lower Prices | Improve & Repair".  

GregoryG 01-29-2013 3:44 PM

After working a number of sites over the years it does have some benefit, how much now with all the changes Google is making? I will just say; "things ain't like they used to be".

JenniferA 01-29-2013 4:24 PM

What are your thoughts about getting geographical info into the title tag? It's seemed very important to us previously, but now I'm starting to wonder.

For example, "San Francisco keyword1 San Francisco keyword2 San Francisco keyword3" vs "San Francisco keyword1, keyword2, keyword3" vs just "keyword1, keyword2, keyword3"

JudiN 01-29-2013 7:08 PM

In the examples some of the title tags had the company name first and others had KWs first.  For a moderate to large company what are the best practices?  Does brand out weigh KWs when you have broad brand recognition? Is a mix best?

PamelaR 01-30-2013 9:06 AM

These guidelines are helpful for commercial sites.  What about best practices for content/informational sites?

PatVB 01-30-2013 10:04 AM

I was once told the search engine would stop at any "stop" characters such as pipes, commas, semicolons, etc.  I see they are in the examples you've shown and used quite effectively.  So once again, another SEO myth busted.  Thanks for this piece.

Christian Connett 01-30-2013 10:44 AM

I have found that utilizing relevant keywords at the beginning of the Title tag, and simply adding the Brand at the end (e.g. Keyword1 | Keyword 2 | Keyword 3 at Brand.com) works tremendously well for the SERPs as well as the visitor recognition of your product, service, or content.

J A 01-30-2013 2:21 PM

Echoing Pamela's comment. ie. Community newspaper posting stories each week - include Community name at beginning of title tag?

CarlinS 01-31-2013 11:19 AM

Great article on title tags.  it's a shame there's so much misleading info that some (people who call themselves) SEO's are putting out there...trying to hide their secrets I guess.

Looking forward to your next article!

Carlin Stanton

The East Texas Google Guy

www.lonestarintenetmarketing.com

ModernM 02-02-2013 4:53 PM

A business serving the local community should definitely slather their title tags with the names of towns they serve and draw customers from.  

JenniferA 02-05-2013 4:16 PM

Thanks, ModernM. Would you keep repeating the city name in each title tag, or do you think once at the start is enough? Would you do "San Francisco keyword1 San Francisco keyword2 San Francisco keyword3" or "San Francisco keyword1, keyword2, keyword3" We have lots of pages with similar keywords for various cities and towns.

HamidG 06-22-2013 12:57 PM

I've been seeing that my competitors are all putting the website name at the end..but what I wonder is if it's different if you are already a big brand?

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