SEO Basics - Title Tags

Title tags are arguably one of the most important aspects of any website when it comes to getting found by the search engines. But title tags also serve other purposes, and should also be optimised for the visitor.

Title tags are used in 3 important places...

The Browser title
Title tags become the title in the browser window

The title should clearly indicate the content of the page.

The Taskbar
Windows users will see the title in the toolbar

The title is usually chopped to around 20 characters, so it's good if your title identifies the site or the content in these first few words.

Search engine results
Google and other engines may use your title in the listing

Google will use the first 68 characters of your title, and chop off anything after this. Other search engines will behave similarly. It's important that the first part of your title clearly indicates the content on your page, so that a person will be compelled to click on it. The first part of the title shouldn't look like comma seperated keyword spam - keep it readable.

Writing good title tags

  • Keep titles as clost to 68 characters as possible - too short may not provide enough information, but too long will reduce the relevance of each word in the title.
  • Try not to repeat any word in the title. Do try to use variations such as flower, flowers, florist, florists as visitors will search for all combinations of the word.
  • Many sites use long comma seperated lists of keywords with great success. These do tend to look like spam, and are less attractive to a human.
  • Minimise the use of noise words, such as and, is, the, for, a etc.
  • Ensure your target keywords are included in the title, as well as the meta tags, page headings and main content.
  • Ensure all title tags are unique across the website. This helps make every page of your site a potential entry point. Never use a fixed title tag in the template for your site.
  • Make sure your title isn't Untitled document. There is too much competetion for this particular phrase.

Title tags should bear a close resemblance to the content of the page, as well as reinforcing the desired keywords for the homepage.

Homepage title tags

Homepage title tags should include your preferred keywords, and you should spend some time to ensure they are relevant, readable, don't contain duplicate words, and minimise the use of noisewords. Your homepage needs to look good in the SERPs, so do this properly. As with any titles, make sure you use these keywords in other parts of the page, such as the headings and the content.

Subpage title tags

Subpages should provide most of your search engine visitors to your site, because your homepage can only target a small number of keywords. Subpages need to be optimised to provide alternative entrances to your site, by using customised title tags on each and every page. Many websites use a single optimised title tag across the whole site, which will provide good results for one phrase only. If your site is dynamic, such as a product database, then it's easy to automatically create dynamic title tags.
Products - Quality Widgets Ltd

This is a common example of a generic title tag that is used for all product pages. The word products should be avoided in titles, simply because there is too much competetion (below).
Why would you want to compete with this?

Logitech MX1000 optical mouse | Quality Widgets Ltd

Many visitors know exactly what they are looking for. If they are searching for logitech mx1000 optical mouse then this page has a good chance of being found. These specific searchers are also more likely to buy when they arrive at your site, because their search is very specific.

Logitech MX1000 optical mouse | Mice and Keyboards | Quality Widgets Ltd

This variation improves by including the product category in the title, as well as the product name. This is also very easy to automate in your script. One advantage of this particular title is that it includes both keywords mouse and mice.

Title tag examples

A good example of a homepage title

This title is a fairly good length (49 characters), although a little longer wouldn't hurt. It includes both words flower and flowers, and incorporates the phrases flower delivery and send flowers. The title does read well for a visitor which is good.
There is a little bit of waste in this title - the word from is a noiseword, and their may have been better expressed as pro flowers as is an unlikely search phrase.

A good example of a homepage title

This title is taken from the same site, on their tulips subpage. The title is focused on the phrase order tulips which relates well to the page content. The title is a little short, and this could have been improved by adding another phrase or variation, eg...
Order tulips, fresh tulip delivery at
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