header for Bob Weikel SEO in Boise

Title Tag SEO For Beginners

What is this thing and how long is it?

The old and infamous title tag still has a lot of importance. Do you know what it is? If not, I’ll explain. When you’re browsing the internet have you ever noticed the words in the tabs at the top of the screen. If you hover over the tab (in Chrome or Firefox, for example) it gives you a phrase. This phrase is your title tag.

image displaying CNN title tag

It is also found in the <head> section of the code of an internet page. That’s internet code if you’ve never heard of it. The <head> is code to talk to your webmaster about.  Each page has it’s own title tag. The title tag of the above image is “Breaking News,U.S., World, Weather, Entertainment, and Video News – CNN.com”. This title tag is really too long (75 characters), but CNN can get away with it – they have enough strength that it doesn’t matter. But for standard SEO, keep the title tag under 55 characters. This lets them be seen clearly when they show up in the search results. Yes, the title tag is the first thing you read in the search results

titele tag in the search engines

Note that CNN has their title tag cut off in the above image. This is because they didn’t keep it under 55 characters.

How do you choose what to put in the title tag?

How do you choose and edit a title tag? Choosing a title tag is very important. Each page has a separate title tag and represents different keywords (search terms you want to rank for). For example, a shoe store might have a page on “running shoes” with the title tag “Running Shoes in our Boise Store” and they could also have a page about “walking shoes” with a title like “Walking Shoes For Less”. You see, separate pages target separate search terms (keywords, the terms you want to come up for when people type them in) and thus have to have separate title tags. It’s important that every title tag on your site be unique. You don’t want two pages with the same title tag.

What’s a real life example of editing it?

I’ll use WordPress to explain how to change a title tag in that case. For your specific website program, either do some Google searching “Platform + editing title tag” or give the task to your webmaster. Here’s WordPress (only because it’s a common example). If you’re not using WordPress, the below information is still useful as a metaphor or example of what you will do. In WordPress, I’ve installed the SEO plugin “All-in-One SEO”. Here’s a screenshot of how to change the home page title tag once this plugin is installed. Note the menu tab in the left-hand menu:

It’s easy to change the title tag with this plugin. Also, each page and posts’ title tag (once the plugin is installed) can now be changed right below where you type in the text for the page in WordPress. Again, the home page is changed in the main settings for the plugin and each other pages’ title tags can then be changed write below where you create the page in WordPress.

Now that you know more about how to edit a title tag, let’s talk about what to put in it. For this, we need to talk about keywords. Keywords are the search terms that you want to come up for when people type them into the search engines. For a shoe store, it might be “running shoes” or “walking shoes”. For a auto-glass company, it might be something like “windshield repair Boise” or “windshield repair San Francisco”.

How do you choose keywords?

Now days, it’s important not to stretch keywords. You want to go to your home page and honestly note what the page is about from start to finish. Summarize the content in a phrase and that phrase in your title tag. It’s OK to use different synonyms that are better search terms. For example, say a shoe store’s running shoes page is being looked at to fine-tune the title tag. For a shoe store, the owner would look at the entire page. It’s all about running shoes. The webmaster has a choice. An obvious title tag is “Running Shoes” or “Shoes for Running”. However, say a better search terms has been found to be “cross-training shoes”.

The webmaster has a choice to add some cross training shoes and information to the page and have a title tag like “Cross Training and Running Shoes”. It’s OK to alter the title tag to your liking only (ONLY) if you adjust the content of the page to incorporate the new title tag. Remember, no tricks. The title tag should be an honest reflection of the page. Also, if there is a phrase or keyword in your title tag, make sure it shows up in the content of the page at least once (once is all that’s really necessary but more is fine if it occurs naturally).

Each Page is Different

Remember, the home page title tag is going to be different than any internal page title tag. Each page is completely separate with separate keyword search terms.

Spend at Least Thirty Minutes on the Home Page

Many good webmasters spend at least 30-45 minutes on deciding what their home page title tag is. It’s that important. The reason is that it is a piece of SEO that you have complete control over and it is really important for site strength. It’s incredible that we have so much control over the title tag. Take advantage of it while it lasts, one day there probably will not be so much control.

Be Honest

Remember, don’t trick with title tags ever. This is so important that I have to keep repeating it. Never stretch a page’s title tags past what the page is about. Just never try to trick Google in any way, even a little bit (especially the little things) and you will be fine.

The title tag is so important and is still under our control It is a very strong signal. Website owners might want to take all of their main pages and carefully construct honest title tags. Do some Google searching if you’re not in WordPress, and sometimes it is going to take a webmaster.