[Video] Google & SEO Friendly Page Titles

Oct 26th

Tips on Page Titles

  • Google shows the first 60 to 70 characters in the search results. Make sure your important keywords occur early in the page title for scan-ability. If your title goes beyond 70 characters Google may cut off the title before 69 characters and display ... at the end of your page title.
  • Rather than making your page title just the keyword and/or starting your page title with the keyword, sometimes it helps to add in a descriptive modifier before your core keyword. This helps ensure your page is less likely to get filtered out of the search results (and thus makes your rankings more stable) while helping you rank for additional terms.
  • Page titles are used to draw in clicks from search results amongst many anonymous competing offers, thus they present an opportunity to differentiate yourself from the competition and qualify prospects to your offer.
  • Good titles evoke an emotional response, ask a question, or promise something (that the landing page fulfills).
  • Since the page title is one of the few elements search engines can show searchers before sending them to your site, they place significant weight on the words in the page title. In addition, some people link to pages using their official page title as the link anchor text.
  • Overlapping modifiers in a reasonable and readable way allows you improve your relevancy scores for an array of keywords, but they still need to read well. Rather than loading up page titles with a keyword list it is better to write a clear compelling offer that contains your keywords and describes your services.
  • Qualifying the wrong prospective clients with a bad offer will lead to a low conversion rate, or wasting time servicing non-clients. For example, if you sell something that is high end you wouldn't necessarily want to rank for your keyword with modifiers like cheap and discount, as servicing those people will waste your time.
  • Page titles should be differentiated from page to page on your site. Unless limited by the size and scope of your site, it is best not to have all your page titles follow the exact same formula across your site. You also should not use the same keyword at or near the start of every page title.
  • The format, order, and word selection of the words in your page title should be (at least slightly) different than the words in your meta description and on page headers.
  • If you have a strong brand you may want to place it at the end of your page title. If you have one of the leading trusted Internet brands (Amazon, eBay, etc.) then it might make sense to place your brand at the start of the page title. In most cases the page title should still be more focused on the page copy and searcher's intent than on your brand.
  • If you blog or are creating linkbait make sure you try to create headlines that draw clicks by using magnetic headline principals.
Published: October 26, 2007

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Comments

October 26, 2007 - 4:41am

I agree. A more unique page title that evokes a (positive) response does go a long way in capturing leads. The one questionable drawback is how that plays out in getting pages listed high enough in the SERPs to be seen in the first place?

More generic titles with mixed keyword phrases are definitely less attractive, less click-able, and have a lower conversion rate -- but at least they'll get seen.

I've found that with new pages, titles need that little extra bump to help get listed/found for variations on a subject. Then, as a site and/or pages gains more authority for a subject, the page titles can be honed into something more palatable and persuasive.

For example, a site definitively must have some juice to be listed 3rd out of 177 million with a page title of "SEO Home" *yawn*. But now that the site is there, it's time to think about selling the site with a better title.

You make a great point and perhaps it's a smarter strategy (and less work) over the long term but I think the time to get a page listed high enough to be seen will definitely be longer.

Perhaps there's a middle ground?

October 26, 2007 - 5:55am

Great comment creative. I think when you have a brand new site with no authority it doesn't hurt to spend a month or two backfilling with a bit of page titles that are a bit more keyword dense, but then as you start to develop authority or get any following the transition for your highest quality editorial content / main publishing chanel has to be to make sure that it is a humans first strategy.

Steven Bradley
October 26, 2007 - 6:53am

Nice job on the video Aaron.

One thing you didn't mention is your views on adding your brand into the title. I can see with your page titles that you add your brand at the end. Do you think there are times when it's better to place your brand up front?

This is really along the same lines as creative's points about new sites. With a new site I've thought it best to place the brand at the end as it's not going to be well known and the page will probably benefit more having the keywords first. As the brand grows though, I've wondered if it should move more towards the front of the title.

Since you have a strong brand do you think there are people who might click simply because they see SEO Book.com? Rand mentioned to me in the past that he's found that on some pages having the brand in the front seems to generate a higher click through, while on other pages it had the opposite effect.

October 26, 2007 - 7:01am

Hi Steven
I tend to like placing the brand at the end of the page title for most sites.

If you are Amazon.com or NPR or you have an exact match domain with most of your search volume matching the core domain name, it might help placing your brand at the start of the page title, but in most cases it is probably best at the end of the page title.

October 26, 2007 - 8:07am

"Google shows the first 65 characters in the search results."

I know Google shows 67 characters. Am I right? I ask this because 2 characters can make a difference in some cases.

What about longer brands like "Michael & Sons Bookings" which takes a lot of space in titles?

October 26, 2007 - 9:09am

Good catch. I think it changes over time as they do user testing.

I usually try to keep it a bit shorter, but I have seen it go up to 68 and not get cut off (with character #68 being an !), while I have seen others show examples of it getting cut off at 68. If you run past 70, depending on word length it may get cut down to as low as ~ 60 depending on where they are in the word listing.

October 26, 2007 - 4:31pm

Great work on this, Aaron! I may not always agree with your stance on Google, but you definitely know how to market.

October 26, 2007 - 6:34pm

Hi Aaron,

You mentioned at the end of the video that title of page and first description on the page should be different. Why exactly is that? It looks more natural to google and therefore they rank you higher? Thanks.

David

October 26, 2007 - 8:53pm

Three reasons David

  • less likely to get filtered out for being too optimized and too focused
  • the description will look more appealing and back up the title, thus drawing more clicks
  • the overall listing is relevant for a wider array of keywords, which helps when you consider how they bold matching words in the page titles and meta tags in the search results
October 30, 2007 - 3:47pm

Aaron,

Thanks for the quick reply! That is interesting. I always assumed if you were consistent in title, description and first words on page you become more relevant. I will try it out.

By the way why did you name your blog /node/?

Take care,

David

October 30, 2007 - 4:41pm

Hi David
Node was the default for Drupal. I set it to that because I didn't know how to change it. I left it as node for now to see how many people would link at it and how many people would mention that I was using Drupal.

January 27, 2009 - 10:39am

I would agree regarding the naming convention for website pages. We spend considerable time researching keywords in Google and use the top five terms to construct the name of the page. This does sometimes make the process of managing the pages in larger websites more difficult as the 'logic' is more difficult to follow (most of the time the tops search terms tend to be similar in nature), but we have even had cases were very simple pages (with 1 or 2 lines of text in the body), have been picked up and ranked highly - admittedly, the content although sparse, was very targetted.

Our latest website, e-creation.eu, has been constructed from the ground up using this technique, and although its still early days (the site has been live for 1 week), it has already been picked up by Google for some good terms, even though the content is still not 100%.

March 9, 2009 - 6:12pm

Aaron,
Does that limit include spaces?
Thanks,
Morty

March 10, 2009 - 9:04am

yes it does. you can also just look at the search results for competing sites and count characters. :)

January 5, 2012 - 8:38pm

GREAT VIDEO!!

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