Search Master: Writing Titles Like an SEO Boss
What catches your attention on search engine results pages? If you're like the vast majority of consumers, it's the titles of the pages that were returned.
Titles are obviously of immense importance to the user experience, but the search engines' "black boxes" (the unknown algorithms) make it exceedingly difficult to determine their importance when it comes to optimization. While they once played a really significant role in SEO, today it's pretty much impossible to say just how much today, particularly as both Google and Bing have indicated in the past they they reserve the right to use any portion of the page that they want to as the page title on the search results pages.
Either way, titles are important because they give users insight into what the page is about and why it is ultimately relevant to the query used by the consumer. It's a critical piece of information and ignoring this crucial element in search engine optimization efforts should be avoided at all cost.
Most of the guidance on title optimization is straightforward and you don't really need to look any further than the search engines themselves for some information. The following, however, are just a few tips for optimizing titles along with some found right on the SERPs themselves for inspiration.
Practical Tips for Writing Titles Like a Boss
Informative & Relevant: Providing the user with a concisely written overview of the page that provide some snippet of information is of fundamental importance. In short, you want someone to know what they will find when they arrive. In the example below, consumers will know they will find Raspberry Pi projects for kids.
Descriptive: Words can provide a powerful force to compel users toward action, so make it a point to avoid vague terminology at every turn. Instead of "About," for example, consider "Meet the People Behind XYZ Company." Essentially, you want to excite prospective visitors. In the example below, the addition of the word "fun" makes all the difference.
Branded: Many consumer queries are branded in some way, meaning they contain the company's name or its products or services. Avoiding the inclusion of such terms or phrases is a major mistake made often by SEO newbies. There are a variety of ways the branded search terms or phrases can be included but the best practice is to include them early on in the title so as to catch the attention of the end-user on the search results page. What's more, think of the value that is provided the end user when they see a name or brand they recognize. The result? More clicks.
A Note About UNIQUENESS:
Avoid Duplicate, Repeated or Boilerplate Titles At All Cost
One of the biggest mistakes made by those new to the practice of search engine optimization is using the exact same title on every single page. Many content management systems and e-commerce systems make it worse somewhat by providing opportunities to set these universal, boilerplate titles. While that may sound like a good idea, it's really not. If too many pages look too similar to the search engines, it will likely impact how a site is perceived (by both consumers and search engines) as it becomes difficult to distinguish between them. Fortunately, most SEO software tools provide features which provide insights into the presence of duplicate titles. Best practice is to use them (and use them periodically) and modify/customize any page that is found with a new and unique title (and then re-submit that page - or simply link to it with the new title from another page).
Now that you know a little bit more about writing page titles, what appeals to you as a search consumer?