There are two titles on a page and both are important for search engine optimisation (SEO). Good titles can help Google, Bing and Yahoo! to correctly index your web pages and can also help people to find your web pages among the pages of results whenever someone searches for something at these sites.
There is more than one title on a page and the first one people see is the one at the top of the text. This is the title you enter at the top of the edit page when writing an article in WordPress. It is the most obvious onee to the reader.
When an article is shared on social media, this is the title that is often displayed. If you post a link to a page in Facebook for example, this is the text that is displayed as the title.
A web page has a title tag in the code and it appears in the browser’s title bar or the tab. It also appears in search engine results. So if you search for something at Google for instance, instead of the article title being displayed, the title tag text is displayed instead.
Both article and page titles are important and although both can be the same, having two titles gives you two opportunities to describe the page and grab attention, partly for readers and partly for search engines.
Let’s look at how to write good titles. Remember that you need two though.
How to grab people’s attention
The page title should be designed to grab people’s attention and it is often best to write it after writing the article itself. It gives you time to think about it and after writing the main points of the article, you have a better idea of what to put in the title.
There are many ways to grab people’s attention with titles and those that start with numbers are particularly effective. For example, “8 ways to…” and “5 tips for…” and “7 ideas for…“.
Other good headlines that are attention grabbers are “How to…” Tell people how to do something, such as bake a cake, save money, lose weight, work smarter and so on.
There should be a benefit in the title and the reader should feel that they will gain something by reading the article, such as more money, more time, a better understanding, extra security, greater skills, a tastier apple pie, and so on.
Optimum title length
What you have to bear in mind is that titles appear in search results in Google, Bing and Yahoo!, but there is only so much space for them and long ones will be chopped off.
The best length for a title is around 60 characters.
If there are fewer than 60 then you are not making best use of the space, but if there are more then everything after 60 or 70 characters might never appear in search results.
You can have long article titles and they can help when visitors reach the page, but all the important, attention-grabbing stuff must appear in the first 60 -70 characters.
Load up the first part of the title with important keywords to ensure they appear in search results.
The title on this article is exactly 60 characters and has keywords like Microsoft and Sticky Notes. It could be longer because the main keywords are covered, but it’s OK.
The All-in-One SEO plugin is used with this website and scrolling down the page, there is an extra section that is added by it. One of the things it does is to enable you to write the text for the web page title tag.
It tells you how many characters the title uses and it also shows a preview of how it will look in Google’s search results. There are keywords like ‘Windows Sticky Notes’ and a ‘How to’ at the start, which is a popular attention grabber. People want to know how to do stuff.
I wouldn’t claim that these are the best titles in the world and maybe you can come up with better ones. However, I hope they illustrate the points about length, keywords and attention grabbing.
More title examples
It is best to write titles in a text editor or word processor that tells you how many characters have been used. TextWrangler, Bean and Google Docs all do this, to mention just three possibilities.
Another advantage of these programs compared to writing directly into WordPress is that you can write several different versions of the title and then choose the best one. It might take half a dozen attempts to get the wording right.
Here is a possible title:
An easy to follow recipe for making the best recipe in the whole world for cheesecake
When this appears in Google search results, it is too long to display and it might look like this:
An easy to follow recipe for making the best recipe in the…
Someone reading through the search results looking for an article to click would skip this because it doesn’t say what the article is about. Here is a rewrite:
Best cheesecake recipe in the whole world and it’s super easy!
Get help with writing titles
They are best for giving you ideas for content and you can’t really apply them to an article that is already written.
- Write titles that include keywords describing the post
- Make the first 60 characters count – it is the most important part
- Use numbers in titles and popular phrases like How-to
- Use a plugin like Yoast or All-in-One SEO to insert page titles