Title Tags Best Practices

Let me tell you one little secret. Google can and is making changes to your title tag to make it relevant to the search query. Not always but can quite often.

For e.g.

Search Query – seo tools seomoz

Page URL- http://www.seomoz.org/seo-toolbar

Title – SEO Toolbar for Firefox & Chrome | Download the Free … – SEOmoz

No of characters displayed in SERP – 65 characters

Actual length of the title tag- 79 characters

 

Search Query – seo toolbar

Page URL- http://www.seomoz.org/seo-toolbar

Title – SEO Toolbar for Firefox & Chrome | Download the Free MozBar SEO …

No of characters displayed in SERP – 65 characters

Actual length of the title tag- 79 characters

Google can also make changes to your title tag to show different results to users in case your content is scrapped/shared across SERP. For e.g. See how the title tag of my blog post changed after being shared on a forum:

If you search for more examples, you can find them easily. Not only Google can change your title tag to suit the search query but it can also change its visible length (no of characters it displays in SERP) and can truncate characters from anywhere (in between the title tag, end of the title tag). I have noticed these changes happening esp. to those web pages which exceed the 70 characters title tag limit, web pages with duplicate title tags or missing title tags. So this is a strong reason to stay within the title tag length limit and follow best practices. Here is what Google has to say about changing your title tags:

“Google’s creation of sites’ titles and descriptions (or “snippets”) is completely automated and takes into account both the content of a page as well as references to it that appear on the web………..Make sure that each page on your site has a useful and descriptive page title (contained within the title tags. If a title tag is missing, or if the same title tag is used for many different pages, Google may use other text we find on the page. “

Source: http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35624

 

Why this is not an experiment?

Check this video from Matt Cutts in which he has clearly said that “if you use a really really long title, Google may still use it in its scoring but when they are ready to show it to the user they may find a better title. He has also confirmed that the title itself can change like meta description.

 

How to keep a control on your title tags

  • Keep the length of your title tags less than 68 characters. Shorter the better.
  • Make sure that the title tag is relevant to the body text.
  • Remove duplicate title tags across the website.
  • Create unique title tag for each web page
  • Use brand names in the middle of the title tags so that it doesn’t get truncated by Google easily.
  • Make sure that a website doesn’t have web pages with missing title tags. Google can create its own title where the title tag is missing.

 

There is also a great post published on title tags in this week whiteboard friday of SEOmoz. So check it out:

:

Wistia

 

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Himanshu Sharma About the Author: is the founder of seotakeaways.com which provides SEO Consulting, PPC Management and Analytics Consulting services to medium and large size businesses. He holds a bachelors degree in ‘Internet Science’, is a member of 'Digital Analytics Association', a Google Analytics Certified Individual and a Certified Web Analyst. He is also the founder of EventEducation.com and EventPlanningForum.net.

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