Blog Post

A Guide to Writing Title Tags for SEO


Matt Cutts recently released a video as a part of his Google Webmaster series on YouTube answering a question regarding title tags. People have been noticing that Google will sometimes choose an SEO title tag that it deems more appropriate for your web pages in the search results. Watch today's Daily Brown Bag to learn how to write the best SEO title tags for your web pages to help them inform your audience about your pages and help the page itself perform better in the search results.

Also available on YouTube.

TRANSCRIPTION:

Hello, and welcome to the Daily Brown Bag. Today we're going to be talking about selecting good titles for your web pages. I'm Chad Hill, and I'm joined by Adam Stetzer.

Hey, good afternoon, Chad. Welcome to the Brown Bag. So we're talking about title tags in SEO, it's a little like a flash back, Chad, to many, many years ago, but, yes, they're still quite important and the news we're uncovering here today is that Matt Cutts from Google did shoot a video yesterday addressing some key questions about SEO title tags.

What does Google look for?

I think reasserting that they're fairly important still. Here are the questions he was addressing. And let's kick off our conversation for our viewers today. What criteria does Google use to change the title it shows in the SERPs, and is that dependent on the query? And a related question that Cutts was covering.

What Google search results are from Google search results show the current meta title of the web page and sometimes opt for a H1 tag from the html page. So, both these technical questions related to onsite SEO, what Google picks up and what it shows in the search results and how to best position that for maximum rankings?

Rules to follow with selecting an SEO title tag

Yeah, Adam, and this is an interesting one because some of the questions here... the irony of it is that back in the days when we used to have better keyword information from Google, some of these questions were better able to match up, but given that information, I think most of the time what people will recommend is:

  1. You want your title to be something short and concise, and typically 65 characters is about what you're looking for
  2. You want it to be a good description of the page and the content of that page, and
  3. You of course, assuming that Google is then showing that page in queries related to what you're talking about, you want it to be relevant to that query.

So those are the three tips I think Matt, Cuts gave us yesterday.

So relevancy means you probably if you're going after a keyword you'll probably use that. And you also want that page to be super relevant and helpful about that topic... So your technical, your tele-tag, your H1, what your page is about, and the ranking you think it would be most appropriate for all to line up, right?

What to do when Google makes up a title for you

Yeah, absolutely, and I think the trick here, and what the question was really meant to ask is that there are cases where we've started to see that Google doesn't always follow tag, or the H1 tag you have on the page, so they're kind of inventing new titles.

Sometimes you kind of have to scratch your head and so, well how are they getting these titles? So the three things that Matt Cuts mentioned, is that:

  1. They may look past your title into the content of your page to try to find a more relevant title to display in your search results.
  2. Another thing they do they might look at the links pointing to your website and what are the anchor tags, what are the different things, and how are people linking to that page of content.
  3. And then the final thing they do, is the may look at external sources like the open directory project and try and infer or gather information from other sources when you haven't done a good job of providing that title.

So I think really Adam, the key thing here is. Make sure that you don't let Google guess. Give them what they want, right?

Why does Google do this?

Right, and remember this is Google, these is the PPC guys. They're very good at understanding click-through and they want to maximize click-through. On the page search side, of course that's to maximize their revenue, but keep in mind on the organic search side, they really want to maximize the user experience and give the searcher exactly what they want. And so far, they do that better than Bing, or Yahoo, or any of the competitors.

One of the ways they do that is by having this very sophisticated mathematics around everything you just said, Chad. Which is putting in and out these different... Think of them as ad copy tests, of your searching on something, try this out, and does that get someone to click through at different rates and the mathematics behind it are very sophisticated, but they're very good at figuring out what does maximize that click through rate.

So they'll take your suggestions but then as you said, Chad, they'll throw them right out if they find something else that works better, so I think our advice, and what Matt Cuts is saying is make it easier on them. Try to make these things all align.

Think about your title as ad copy, as what someone would see and what would maximize their desire to want to click on it and get the information they want, and make Google's job a little easier, which you might find make your ranking a little bit better.

We'll that's our coverage on the evergreen topic, never to go away of tele- tags, Chad. I think this is going to be around for another five years. I hope you enjoyed the information. Drop us a comment, we'd love to hear from you and we hope you'll subscribe to our YouTube channel, and we'll see you back at our Brown Bag real soon.