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Titles Still Matter in SEO

Update for 2024:

Modern SEO Titles that Drive Traffic: Secrets to Searcher Satisfaction

In the SEO game, titles used to be a simple keyword buffet. Pile 'em high, watch the rankings climb. But today's searchers are savvier, and Google's getting wise. It's all about user intent: what sparks their curiosity, answers their doubts, and solves their problems. So, ditch the keyword stuffing and let's whip up some titles that tantalize both search engines and human eyes.


Long-tail insights: Ditch the generic, embrace the specific. Use tools like Google Trends and competitor analysis to understand what real people are searching for. Think "Best Vegan Chili Recipe for Beginners" instead of just "Chili Recipe."

Value is the secret sauce: What makes your content the answer to their prayers? Highlight unique benefits, actionable tips, or surprising results. "Turn Leftover Broccoli into Gourmet Soup (Seriously!)" will pique their interest.

Clarity and brevity: Mobile screens are the new prime real estate. Keep titles short, sharp, and easily digestible. "5 Hacks to Skyrocket Your Website Traffic" is mobile-friendly and enticing.

A dash of intrigue: Don't give it all away, but spark curiosity. A hint of mystery keeps them clicking. "The Surprising Secret to Building Customer Loyalty" leaves them wanting more.

Actionable verbs, please: Tell them what they'll get, not just what they'll read. "Master Email Marketing in 7 Days" is clear and gets them excited to take action.


Think like a searcher: What would you type when desperate for your content's magic?

Test and refine: Experiment with different formats and see what clicks. Data is your kitchen friend.

Keep it fresh: Update older titles with new insights and trending keywords.
With these tips, your SEO titles won't just attract clicks, they'll convert searchers into satisfied customers. So, go forth and craft titles that are both irresistible and informative. The feast of online success awaits!

Bonus Tip: Sprinkle in emojis cautiously! They can add personality, but make sure they align with your brand and audience.

Q&A: Conquering the Click with Captivating Page Titles

Q: So, how important is a page title really?

A: Think of it as the first handshake with your audience (and with Google!). A good title can entice users to click, tell search engines what your page is about, and even boost your rankings. It's a powerhouse in a tiny package!

Q: Okay, I'm sold. But how long should this "powerhouse" be?

A: Aim for conciseness, ideally between 50-60 characters. Google displays results up to 60 characters, so anything longer gets cut off, leaving your message incomplete. Think short and sweet punchlines, not epic novels.

Q: Got it, short and sweet. But what kind of magic words should I sprinkle in?

A: Keywords are your friends, but don't stuff them like holiday turkey! Use relevant keywords naturally and strategically, weaving them into a clear and compelling sentence. Think "Best [Topic] Tips for Beginners" instead of "[Topic] Keyword 1 Keyword 2 Keyword 3."

Q: And what about the actual structure? Any secret formulas?

A: No potions needed! Consider using numbers and lists ("5 Ways to...") for instant intrigue. Questions can spark curiosity ("Is [Topic] Right for You?"). But most importantly, focus on clarity and benefit. What makes your page special? Tell users what they'll gain by clicking (think "Master Baking Bread in 3 Easy Steps").

Q: Mobile matters, right? Any tips for tiny screens?

A: Absolutely! Keep titles even shorter for mobile displays, around 40-50 characters. Every word counts, so prioritize clarity and action verbs. Think "Transform Your Garden - Easy DIY Hacks" instead of "Gardening Tips and Tricks for a Beautiful Outdoor Space."

Bonus Tip: Don't forget about internal linking! Craft clear and relevant titles for your internal pages to help users navigate your website with ease.

Remember, your page title is a mini-ad for your content. Make it irresistible, informative, and optimized for both humans and search engines.

Original Article From 2015:

Every year, Searchmetrics publishes a correlation study of SEO ranking factors. I am a big fan. I love correlative studies. At the time of writing this post, their 2015 study is not out yet, but here is a link to their 2014 study if interested. I had the chance to hear their findings at SMX West this year. In short, the takeaway from the study was not to worry about title tags anymore. I do not agree.

Once again, I LOVE correlative studies, especially when they are well done, like Searchmetrics'. However, correlation does not always mean causation. Looking at over 15,000 keywords using the top 30 results, they found no correlation between keywords in the title tag and rankings. Your mind immediately jumps to, "title tags no longer matter." This struck me as odd. So, I decided to do some testing. Now, keep in mind that I did this on a small scale and my only intention was to determine whether or not Google used our title tags as a ranking factor. What were the results? Also, very compelling.

So, I made an assumption. The study says that title tags do not correlate. Searchmetrics put a lot of weight into this and actually said not to focus on title tags. They did NOT say they were no longer a ranking factor or that they were not used (I just want to be clear on that). However, for the purpose of my little test I made the assumption that this is what was presumed. Simple enough. So, how does one do this? Well, if the only assumption here is that title tags no longer impact rankings, then I just either need to prove that correct or incorrect. So, I simply changed our title tag on our home page. It used to read, "Website Design, Search Engine Optimization | Southern WI Area". I changed it to read, "Award Winning Website Design and Search Engine Optimization". Clearly, if titles still affected rankings then this would have an impact since I removed mentions of our geography from the title tag and added "award winning".

Using comparative data in Webmaster tools and keywords we track, I was able to measure the shifts in our average ranking position (and actual rankings using daily metrics) for several days before the change, compared to several days after. Now, WMT is notorious for given us inaccurate data. So, to be sure, I had a look at large swaths of keywords that I categorized, as well as my other tracking data. I threw out anything with a shift of less than three places, just to make sure I was looking at the more significant ranking swings. In short, I was looking for massive changes in rankings for terms having to do with "award winning" or "Wisconsin". Well, I found some.

We began to rank for 5 key phrases related to award winning web design. The comparison confirmed that we did not rank for these prior at all. We also dropped heavily for every single phrase with "Wisconsin" in it and any geographic terms including Wisconsin-based cities. Interestingly enough, we also increased in rankings for a great deal of our non-geo specific terms (almost as if being Geo-specific was a detriment to national rankings). None of this information is definitive about the algorithm itself, but it does tell us, with reasonable likelihood, that the title tags had a significant impact on our rankings, and specifically to our relevance for terms in the title.

tweet from Google

The one thing studies don't account for is experience. There could be a number of reasons why there was virtually no perceived correlation between the title tag and the key phrase that's in the title. What I can tell you, is that in this case, the correlation is deceptive. Titles tags still matter in SEO.

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