12 Title Tag Tips for Keyword Ranking & Traffic

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Title tags are often the first thing users see when they enter a Google search. They are an essential part of organic search, content marketing, and search engine optimization. If you're looking for other title tag information regarding code and how they display in search engines, go here. Let's get to the tips!

1. Length - In general, keep title tags under 70 characters. Title tags above 70 characters will likely be cut off. For your title tag to display in full, we recommend somewhere between 55 and 65 characters.

2. Keywords - Words near the beginning of the title tag have the biggest sway in keyword ranking. Meaning keywords at the end are given less weight in determining an article's contents. If possible, keep target keywords near the beginning of the title tag.

3. Consider the target - If you're targeting organic search (which you should be) each page should have a keyword target. Consider the users who are searching this keyword. What kind of language do they appreciate? What might intrigue them?

4. Poke around Google - What's the number one result for your keyword target? That page and its title tag are doing something right. It's possible the page's success has little to do with the title tag, but more than likely the title tag is playing some role in its ranking.

5. Consider additional keywords - Does your target keyword have synonyms or closely related keywords that you can add to your title tag? Example: this page is targeting "title tag" searches. If a title tag searcher includes "rank", "drive", or "traffic" in their search it's likely this page will be given a boost. Brainstorm such keywords that may be combined with your target keyword and see if you can put together a title tag that includes important alternatives that still packs a punch.

6. Structure - One of the best ways to squeeze an extra keyword or two in the tag (without keyword stuffing) is with the colon. If I was running out of space in my title above I could have removed the words that aren't really keywords -- "Title Tags: Keyword Ranking and Traffic".

7. Creating space - Need more room? Using the colon as in the above tip is a start. If you're tag has the word "and" replace it with an ampersand (&). It's also possible to rank for keywords that don't display in the search results page. If you really want to keep a keyword in the tag, but it doesn't fit, leave it! We've seen plenty of instances where keywords not seen have influenced a page's keyword ranking.

8. Brainstorm - Title tags are important. Spend some time jotting down (or typing) different keyword combinations and alternative ways to say the same thing with a bigger punch. A poor tag without keywords can ruin a page's performance in organic search. Having trouble? Use stream of consciousness. Seriously, write down everything you can think of. It gets the ball rolling.

9. Keep your goals in mind - It's important to remember that you're trying to rank and drive traffic to your site for a reason. Whether it's for customers to contact you, complete a transaction, or signup for emails its important to keep your end-goals in mind. When selecting keywords consider giving weight to a keyword's expected conversion rate.

10. Repetition - Oftentimes you'll see title tags that contain the same singular keyword more than once. Example: Roanoke Web Design | Responsive Design in Roanoke, Virginia. This tag uses "roanoke" and "design" twice in an attempt to catch traffic from different searches: "web design" and "responsive design". It's likely that leaving out the second Roanoke will suffice to rank for the search "responsive design roanoke", but this is getting granular, and there's really no way to know for sure. If it were me, in this case I'd avoid the repetition and bump the keyword "virginia" a good 7-8 characters up in the title tag.

11. Browse ad results - If you've ever used AdWords, you may know that Google uses clickthrough rate as a weighted metric that affects Ad Rank. Clickthrough rate also likely affects organic search ranking as well. Peruse the top ads for your target search. You may be able to extract words or aspects of a good ad title and incorporate it into your own.

12. Having trouble? - If you've already decided on a topic, but can't decide on a title tag, no worries! Get to writing your article. It's always best to revisit and confirm the best title tag selection anyways. And, if you're like me, your topic may shift as you write, and you'll need to alter your title tag anyways!