Good page titles are essential for SEO because not only is the page title the first thing the users see in the results page but also because it is a very important factor for Google to decide what the site is all about. A good page title, therefore, has two goals; helping to achieve a good rank for specified keywords and arousing the interest of the user enough to make him click on the link. While not mutually exclusive, sometimes the two goals can have competing interests if you are consistently achieving good page ranks but users are not clicking on the link. It thus becomes essential for page titles to be audited and improved upon on a continuous basis.
Monitor Your Page Tiles Regularly
Audits of page titles should be a part of the continuous maintenance program of the website. It is important to analyze the keywords that your content has to be ranked for with a good data source. The Google Search Console is one of the many tools available freely that can make available critical performance data. Another popular tool, Screaming Frog, delivers a complete view of all the page titles by scanning the URL list you are auditing. Using just these two tools, you can cross-reference the search queries that your content needs to be ranked for. You can get to know the number of clicks the link has generated and the average position of the link in the search page, as well as which keywords were actually responsible for driving site traffic, and whether those were intentional or unintentional.
This information can be very useful as they reveal the content that is performing well and what you can do to change it if the keywords were found to be unintentional but resulting in high ranks. You should plan to pull the click-through data every month and use it to forecast the impact on ranking. Do appreciate that even a one-rung jump up in the ranking can make a lot of difference to the traffic volume.
Page Titles Should Not Be Too Short or Too Long
Analyze all page titles to establish their word length and make sure that they are not too long as Google truncates them. Truncated page titles need to be avoided as they have a much lower click-through rate. A good rule of thumb is to stay below 68 characters in the page title. Try to use the maximum to that limit so that you can deliver more value to the user and get their attention. The hard work that you have put in to create quality content can often be marginalized if the page title length is not optimized.
Consider Your Brand Name’s Character Length
In case Google considers your brand name to be reputable, they might naturally append it at the end of the page title. However, if you have already a 68-character page title, the extra characters of your brand name may cause the title display to be truncated. An easy way of establishing it is to conduct a site search on www.example.com; you might see your brand name being added with a dash to the page title even if you have not included it in your source code. The truncating happens more frequently when SEO Houston practitioners recommend optimizations with the brand name with the “I” pipe. Using the dash instead causes 80% less chance of page titles being truncated according to studies. Of course, you can always make sure it never happens by ensuring that the brand name along with two spaces and a dash is included in the 68-character limit that you have set.
Mobiles Have Different Rules
Strange as it may seem, the number of characters that can be displayed in the page title without getting truncated in the smaller displays of mobiles is actually higher than that of desktops. It is possible to display over 80 characters in the search page of mobiles and this can be a very important opportunity for increasing CTR given that the volume of mobile searches has outstripped that from desktops and is rising very fast. Since a page title that is truncated on a desktop screen may well be visible in full on a mobile screen, you can sacrifice the lower SEO performance from desktops if the majority of your users are using mobile devices.
Establishing Priorities for Page Title Optimization for Existing Content
For content that is already ranking in the top five positions in the search page, it is strictly not necessary to add more content as it is already serving user queries very well. The focus of the SEO efforts should be therefore on optimizing the click-through rates. Carry out a page title audit to find out if the title is getting truncated or if there’s any way you can make the title or the meta description more attractive or even convey some sort of a message encouraging users to click on your link and not the ones above it.
The challenge for page ranking in the 6-10 positions is to climb up and get included in the top five positions as click-through rates can improve quite significantly. To make that happen, find out if the keyword features in the page title and if not, try and include it is such a way that it achieves an exact match to the queries. Do a competitive analysis of content to find out where their content quality, relevance or even freshness outscores yours. Getting a ranking boost for Page 2 results is more complicated as it usually points to a deficiency in the quality of content or non-search engine friendliness. You will need to conduct a comprehensive site audit and make the necessary corrections for the site to receive worthwhile traffic volumes.
Page title optimization takes relatively little effort but can pay really large dividends. The trick is to identify the keywords that rank well and ensure that they are also included in the page titles. It is essential to ensure that the titles do not get truncated as then the appeal to the user dips significantly.