What is Page Titles SEO?
An SEO page title will include the page or post title (Header 1), the site title, and sometimes other information like site description, dates, author name, and categories. Very often you will want to limit these results based on which page you are optimizing. For example, your home page might include your site description, whereas a blog post might not.
One of the most confusing things to understand at first is that the H1 in your post title or page title is different from the SEO title tag for that specific page or post. They are two different things even though they contain a lot of the same information or text.
Let’s look at specific examples so you can see what I mean. I had a hard time grasping this concept at first.
Also, WordPress plugins will usually create your SEO Page Title tag for you automatically based on how you set up the parameters.
If you’re writing a blog post, for example, the below screenshot shows where the H1 tag would go, even though it says “add title”. But this is NOT the SEO Page Title.
This is not the same as your SEO Page title. However, most of the time your SEO Page Title will include the title you have designated in your Header 1. You CAN adjust this within the code of your website and within the .php files. But I’m not going to get into that here because it’s just not necessary in 2022.
Most SEO Page Titles include the Site Title in combination with a hyphen and the Header 1. You can also customize these variables within the plugin itself where you can differentiate between the home page and the other pages on your site. If you don’t do this, Google will just automatically do it for you, so you might as well have some control over what shows up.
Your site title in WordPress is the name of your site and is located WordPress Settings > General > Site Title.
Then very often your SEO Page Title will show up with the Site Title + Page Title (or H1). With a separator like a hyphen or the long-stick style thing (I can’t remember what it’s called haha).
SEO Learning Academy | Sitemap Guide 2022: Blah Blah
Or in the reverse order. But you can define these parameters through the plugin you use, or through your website builder of choices like Webflow or Squarespace.
Using Rank Math SEO gives you options for each use case like your archive pages, blog posts, single pages, author pages, local pages, the home page, and more.
So you can customize each one of these options separately.
How Does Google Automatically Adjust Page Titles?
Since August 2021, Google will now automatically adjust your page titles based on a certain number of factors. These are not manually done, everything is done automatically. Google will use:
- Your current page title
- Header elements like H1, H2, H3
- Other style elements like links, media, lists etc.
- Anchor text on the page
- Other text on the page
Google will cycle through different options based on these variables and try to define the best page title that will show up on the search engine results page.
Ideal Page Title Length SEO
Even though Google has said that page title length does not impact search engine rankings, you still need to use logic when looking at the length of a page title. You don’t want to make it too short or too long, you just need to create a descriptive title that best defines where the user will be taken when they click on the title link in Google Search results.
SEO page title character limit
There is no character limit that Google has come out and defined. However, there is a width of pixels in which Google will then truncate and turn into an ellipsis so the viewer cannot see the rest of the title. The width usually translates into about 60-70 characters before it shortens into a “…”. This is important when defining variables for your page titles. For example:
Ironically a post about page titles and SEO is not following the best practices for SEO page titles. Whereas the top result in Google for page titles is written by Yoast, in which they add their site title at the end separated by a hyphen. Very simple.
SEO Page Title Tool
There are various tools you can use on your website or off your website to determine certain things. One thing that Google will not mention is the psychological triggers that might persuade a user to click on your title compared to another title in the results pages.
Some tools will look at these factors and determine whether or not they meet the correct criteria. Many SEO plugins will do this automatically. For example,
Rank Math SEO will look at:
- Length of the title
- Whether it has a number
- Does it contain a “power word” like amazing?
- Does it contain a positive or negative sentiment
- Is the focus keyword at the start of the title?
This is all subjective and Google does not define this as a ranking factor, but I believe the more someone clicks on your title, the better Google might rank you. And these factors can absolutely increase the chance a user clicks on your title.
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How To Write Page Titles for SEO
Writing titles for SEO can be daunting. You might not be sure what to include in the title, is it too long? Is it too short? Should it contain a number? Does it clearly indicate what’s on the page? Let’s go over how you should break this down for your own site.
You need to use the Title tag on every page of your website. Almost every single content management system like WordPress or Squarespace will allow you to adjust these automatically. Using a plugin on WordPress like Rank Math SEO or Yoast SEO will automatically create the page title for you based on your post title (Header 1).
Home Page Title SEO
Avoid writing “home” or “home page” in the title for your home page. If you are looking for a good local example check out my SEO Calgary page. This is too general and doesn’t provide any value to the user. You also don’t want to stuff a massive amount of keywords in your page title, as it will likely be shortened in the Google search results anyways.
Adding a description of additional information about your website in the home page title is okay according to Google’s page title best practices. But do not include that descriptor in other page titles across your website. To be honest, my opinion is not to use the descriptor in the page title, I would rather use a keyword-focused strategy (without keyword stuffing) and then include the descriptive words in the meta description of your home page.
If you’re using WordPress, I highly recommend using an SEO plugin like Rank Math SEO or Yoast SEO to adjust the home page title for SEO purposes. The plugin will give you options to customize the title completely, or you can use a set of parameters the plugin suggests as options as per the below screenshot of Rank Math SEO.
If you look at some examples of different high-ranking home page titles it might help you distinguish how you should craft yours.
If you look at one of the best ranking restaurants in my city their home page title is structured like this:
<title>Universe Restaurant | Calgary, AB | (587) 354-3339</title>
They include the name of the restaurant, the city it’s in, and the phone number in their home page title.
Online Fashion, Homeware & Kids Clothes | H&M CA
Interestingly, they are targeting certain keywords on their home page within Canada. Clearly “Kids Clothes” is a term they wish to rank for.
Company Name in page title
Including your company name in the page, title depends on whether or not you have people searching for your brand name. If you don’t, then it might make sense to include your most desired keyword instead. For example, including “Houston dentists” instead of “happy face dental” may make more sense.
You can adjust your site title for the home page, and then change it for blog posts and other types of pages as well. It really depends on what you think is best for your business. You can instead adjust your product titles to include a keyword instead of your brand name which may or may not help you show in the search results more often for that term.
Looking at Nissan Canada, they include their company name in the home page title but they also include the location differentiator as well. But they are a well-known brand in which people will search for the term “Nissan”.
“Cars, Trucks, SUVs, Electric Vehicles, Crossovers & Sedans | Nissan Canada”
About Us Page SEO Title
We should be sticking to the best practices Google defines through Google Search Central. They will tell you to write descriptive titles that indicate what the page is about. If you are writing an about page title for SEO you will want to no doubt include the site title (which might be the brand name like John’s Clothing Shop), but you might also include your local area or other keywords that might help your SEO efforts.
Looking at the top option in Houston for Dentist offices (which is a competitive space), the about us page looks like this:
“Meet Cosmetic Dentists Brett McRay, DDS and Heather Robbins, DDS Houston TX | Houston Dentists”
They decided to use the dentist’s names to increase authority with Google and also the location. Notice their site title is “Houston Dentists” instead of the brand name of the actual business itself.
Shopify Page Title SEO
Avoid using extremely similar page titles for products on your eCommerce website. For example, you won’t want to use the same “Budget items for sale – Brand name” in multiple places on your websites. This is called a boilerplate title, almost like a template for your titles where you adjust only a few words here and there while the majority remains the same across products.
If we look at one of the most successful shopify stores in Spigen which gets 450,000 visitors every month. The page title of their product pages will often include the category, product name, and site title (Spigen Inc.). For example on an iPhone 13 Pro case it looks like this:
iPhone 13 Pro / 13 Pro Max Optik Lens Protector V2 – Spigen Inc
If we look at the title for Gym Shark’s joggers product page, they apply a similar type of title tag.
<title>Gymshark Crest Joggers – Black | Gymshark</title>
Adjusting page titles based on your needs is incredibly important. You might include your local area if you are a local-based business in order to rank better for your city. You might include your name if your company name if you are a brand that is searched often. You might include a keyword you are trying to rank for such as “kids clothing” if that might help your search ranking. Overall you want to be descriptive, don’t worry about the length of the SEO Page title, but don’t overthink this.