What is a meta title?
The meta title is the main description of an online document. It is an important on-page element for SEO. It is very simple to add to any HTML document by specifying the title tag within the <head> section as demonstrated below.
<title>Example of a title tag</title>
Where is the meta title used?
The meta title is used in three separate places on the web:
- Search Engines
- Other websites
In browsers, the meta title of a webpage is displayed in the tab, and in most browsers, it’s also displayed at the very top of the browser.
The webpage in the image above has been marked with the title ‘Example Domain’ as you can see.
In search engines, the meta title is used as the headline of each result.
It’s the big blue text that you click on to go to the corresponding website.
In the example below I googled the query “Title tag”. As you can see in the image every occurrence of the query or part of the query has been made bold.
This draws attention to your user’s eyes and increases the click-through rate.
A lot of the time when a different website links to you they will use the title as anchor text for the link. Social media websites are a good example of this fact.
As you can see in the image above the big headline “Google Plus SEO: Everybody Talks About It – How Do You DO It?” is the link. This is the meta title from the shared link.
Meta title best practices
There are some best practices for creating the best possible meta titles for your website. Let’s run through them one at a time.
- Only use one
<title>tag per page and make sure it’s in the
<head>section of your HTML document.
- Don’t make it too long. The maximum amount of characters a search engine will show of your title is 70 characters, this is including whitespaces. The search engine image from earlier in the post has a search result with a meta title that’s cut off. This is not a good user experience since the sentence just got cut off by three small dots. The W3C advises keeping it to a maximum of 64 characters.
- Make sure the title is like a headline in a magazine. It’s like an advertisement in both Search engines and Social media platforms. Make sure that when a user reads your meta title they’re gonna want to read the rest of your content. Check out ‘How to write great headlines and earn clicks‘ to learn how to write great headlines that earn clicks.
- Try to start the title with your most important keyword. The most important keyword should be about the current page and it should be something people actually look for in the search engines. Of course, keep best practice #3 in mind.
- Make sure that every single one of the meta titles on your website is unique and specifically tailored to its page and that it reflects the content from that page.
- Avoid keyword stuffing! Don’t stuff your title full of keywords in order to rank higher. That may have worked in the past but now it doesn’t anymore. Search engines are getting smarter and are figuring out which page is the best for the user. So make sure the content is awesome and that the title is just an amazing headline that makes the user want to read it.
- Make sure the title on at least your homepage has your brand name in it. Don’t forget that the branding should go at the end of the title.
Some resources containing information on the title tag: