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Page titles and SEO

Page titles, sometimes called meta titles, are important for SEO. Although they only have a small direct influence on your ranking, they play a vital role in getting more visitors from search engines. In this guide, we'll share how you can improve your titles for organic search success.

What is a page title?

The title of a page is declared in the head of the HTML. Although it's not visible on the page itself, it is shown in the browser tabs and is featured prominently in search results.

Why do page titles matter?

From an SEO perspective, page titles are important for two reasons. First, it's a clear indication telling Google what your page is about.

Secondly, the page title is shown as a clickable link in the SERP (search engine results page):

Page title in search result

Update: Since August 2021, Google still relies on the page titles, but can also use the H1 of the page.

Optimizing the title won't directly boost your ranking positions. But, crafting ones with a strategy in-mind will boost other powerful ranking factors, such as click-through rate (CTR) and bounce rate.

Apart from SEO, page titles are important for other reasons. Visitors will see the title of your page in their browser tabs. 

Page title in browser tab

When people share a link to your website on social media, it will also show the title prominently:

Page title shown in Tweet

Where do I set my page title?

A page title is declared in the top of your HTML source, like this:

<title> - An amazing homepage</title>

Most content management systems, like Wordpress or Squarespace, also allow you to enter a custom title.

What is the optimal page title?

Crafting the perfect page title takes some time and experimentation. Here are some basic guidelines your page title should follow:

Use the correct length

A page title should be somewhere between 50 and 70 characters. If it's longer, Google will show an ellipsis at the end, making your website less attractive. Something like this:

Long page title not fully showing in Google

Include relevant keywords

Always try to use your primary keyword as the first word in your meta title, as this has the strongest ranking power. This also makes clear to the visitor what your page is about. Titles like "New page", "Home" or "Untitled document" don't really help.

Use your brand name

Your page title should always include your brand name. It helps searchers recognize your website in the search results and when looking at their browser tabs.

We recommend to put your brand name at the end of your page title, and include your most important keywords first:

Latest news about SiteGuru and SEO | SiteGuru

One exception is your homepage. It's better to start with your brand name on the homepage, and give a short description of your business after that:

SiteGuru | online crawler and SEO audit tool

You'll often see a pipe (|) or a dash (-) is used to separate the brand name from the rest of the title. Choose whichever you prefer.

Use a unique title

Your page title should be unique across all your pages. This helps Google and your visitors distinguish your different pages and avoids duplicate content.

Prevent keyword stuffing - write for humans

Create a page title that makes sense to your users. Don't clutter it with keywords hoping to rank for all those keywords. Those tricks don't work anymore.

How do I measure if my page title is good?

The quality of your page title is largely defined by the CTR, or Click Through Rate, from search engines. We'll explain how this works.

If your website ranks for a certain keyword, you can expect an average click-through rate associated with its position. Example: if you rank on position 3, on average 15-20% of the searchers will click on your result. If your website is on position one, this will be around 30%.

Brian Dean from Backlinko has done extensive research in this area, resulting in a CTR curve that looks like this:

CTR curve by Backlinko

You can see more CTR curve's, for specific searches in Advanced Web Ranking's CTR Study.

To check how well your page title is doing, find your average ranking for that page, and compare your CTR to what you could expect based on the CTR curve. Use our CTR Performance Check to see which CTRs you can improve.

Example: if your website ranks on position 2 for a keyword, you can expect an average CTR of around 24%. If the CTR for that keyword is significantly lower, then for some reason people are not clicking on your website in the search results. Check your page title and meta description for that page to see if there's any reason why people would not click on it. Try to improve it, and monitor your CTR to see if it has helped.

You can get both your CTR and your average ranking from Google Search Console:

CTR graph in Google Search Console

Click-through data in Search Console

Using SiteGuru to audit page titles

Checking all your page titles can be a hassle, especially as your website grows. SiteGuru checks the titles of all your pages for length and uniqueness. We also show you a full list of all your page titles to quickly audit them, without having to visit every single page.