Do you want more visitors to your website pages?
Of course you do!
You want people to discover your website so they get to know you and your amazing business.
You want them to read that blog post that you sweated over for the past three hours.
You want them to laugh. To cry. To be moved.
OK, maybe that’s going a step too far, but you get the point:
You want your business to be front and center when a person seeks a solution to a problem you’re an expert at solving.
You can achieve this goal by writing magnetic website titles…
And it’s more straightforward than you might expect.
Table of Contents
What Is a Website Title?
A website title is a code snippet included on every website page with text that acts as a headline for the content. Visitors to your website pages won’t see the titles, but they display in search engine results.
When you view the underlying code of a website page, the title is easy to spot.
It looks like this: <title>title text goes here</title>
The critical piece – if you want anyone to visit your website and read your content – is the text that displays between <title> and </title>.
To maximize success, titles should be the love child of a consummate internet geek and a Pulitzer prize-winning author.
Why Website Titles Are Important
1. Titles Promote Search Visibility
Search engines use titles (amongst other factors) to sort out what a web page is talking about.
The search engine then plays the role of matchmaker between the person searching for information and the page titles that provide the best answers.
Here’s an example: let’s say you’re looking for dog grooming tips because your fur baby keeps depositing clumps of shag on the living room floor.
When you type “dog grooming tips” into the search engine, it looks for pages (and page titles) that match the words you’ve entered.
See the blue links? Each one of those is a website title for a page or blog post. You can see how the text in the titles mirror the search term.
So, at a very basic level, website titles are important because they help your content appear in search results.
But when it comes to titles, you don’t just want to attract the attention of the search engines.
You also want to appeal to humans.
2. Titles Encourage Searchers to Click
It’s one thing to cram search words into your title.
It’s something else entirely to write intriguing copy that stops hyperactive scrolling in its tracks.
Let me ask you a question: which of the following would you click on?
If you answered A, it’s because it’s a human-friendly title…and if you answered B I’m guessing you’re a robot hell-bent on world domination.
The person who wrote title A wasn’t just after premium placement in the search results.
She wanted you to click on that link instead of all the other options on the page. And to get the click, she wrote the title in a uniquely compelling way.
Direct response advertisers learned an important fact long ago: the ONLY purpose of an ad headline is to get you to read the next line.
A website title is similar: its ONLY purpose is to get a person to click so they visit your web page or blog post.
When your title is traditional and (yawn) boring, it may rank well, but it won’t attract clicks.
Website Titles vs. Article Titles…What’s The Difference?
Now that you have a firmer grasp on what website titles are and why they’re important, let’s clear up some confusion.
A website title is NOT the same thing as an article title. But they do sound an awful lot alike, don’t they?
First, Website titles are not visible on the page – they live in the code to provide search engines with something to display:
Article titles are visible on the page – they’re the big, bold headline at the top:
Second, each title type has a distinct purpose:
- A website title aims to get a searcher to stop scrolling and click
- An article title exists to get a web visitor to read the page content
Finally, there’s an issue of control.
Just because you set a website title doesn’t mean that a search engine will use it. You can’t control the search engine, and sometimes it will just make up its own title for your page.
But your article title lives on your website.
You can change it on a whim to say whatever you like.
Which brings us to an important question…
Should a Website Title Match the Article Title?
Nothing is preventing you from using the same text for both.
However, you may want to make them different so your website title encourages people to click while your article title makes them curious to read more.
Plus, website titles have a limitation that sometimes forces you to make them different from article titles.
We’ll get to that in just a moment…
But first, let’s address some common title mistakes well-meaning website owners make.
What Are Some Common Title Mistakes?
We can all agree that the Internet is a magical tool for getting your business in front of people who’ve never heard of you before.
But given all the moving parts, it’s often easy to make small mistakes that have a significant impact on website traffic and engagement.
Website titles are no exception.
When we conduct website content audits for clients, we often find them making three common mistakes.
Mistake #1 - No Title
These people just plain forgot.
Unlike you, they didn’t know that titles exist, and they didn’t define one when they set up their website page.
When titles are missing, Google and other search engines randomly pick something else on the page to use as a title…if they can find the page at all.
You can tell when a website’s home page is missing a title because it just says “Home.”
Mistake #2 - Identical Titles
Every page of your website is an opportunity to rank for a different search term.
For example, if you have blog posts (or pages) about wedding cakes, birthday cakes, and graduation cakes, you don’t want all the titles to be “Cakes ‘R Us.”
When you do this, your pages won’t show up in search when people search for specific cake types.
You’ll only show up when people search for your company by name.
And…unless you have massive brand name recognition…this is not likely to happen very much.
Mistake #3 - Vanilla Titles
This is the most devious issue of them all.
Here, the person setting up the page knew to create a unique title, but just went with the obvious.
Take the landscaper who has a services page with the title “Landscape Contracting Services.”
Sure, it’s to the point, and yes, it should display in search results when people search for “landscaping contracting services.”
However, there’s no meat on this title’s bones. Nothing that says, “I’m special” or “Click me now!”
What if instead that title read: “Hire the Top-Rated Landscaping Contractor Service in Chicago.”
Now that’s a title worth clicking on.
5 Tips for Great Website Titles (Best Practices)
You now know what NOT to do when it comes to website titles.
But how do you create website titles that attract an equal amount of attention from both search engines and human visitors?
Glad you asked.
Tip #1 – Keep Your Title Between 50 to 60 Characters
Why can’t you wax poetic when you’re writing a website title?
Well, titles display in a page of search engine results and – unfortunately – the search engines limit the number of visible characters to 60 (including spaces).
So, while you can certainly write titles that are longer than this, the search engine will cut them off.
Your brilliant wordsmithing will go to waste.
How do you know if your title is the right length? We recommend you use this Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP) Simulator.
Type in different titles and see a live preview of what they’ll look like in search results.
Tip #2 – Put Important Words at the Start
A title is a preview of the information on the page.
When people type a phrase in a search engine, you want them to see in an instant that your page has the information they seek.
You do this by including the key words at the start of your title.
For example, when I search for “social media marketing services” here are the results I get:
See how many of the links (website titles) include this exact phrase at the start of the title?
This best practice ensures that the search engines understand what your page is about, and searchers quickly get results.
Tip #3 – Use Related Words
Search engines get smarter every day.
Years ago, they were overly literal. They didn’t understand that “veterinarian,” “vet,” “animal care,” and “animal hospital” all mean the same thing.
Today they do.
This is why it’s a good idea to include words related to your primary search term in your title.
It reinforces the search term without being repetitive.
For example, a dentist in Richmond VA could have the following title for the home page:
“Dentist in Richmond VA | General, Cosmetic, and Pediatric Dentistry”
Tip #4 – Generate Curiosity
Print advertisers know that they have mere seconds to capture a reader’s attention.
In the mid to late 1900s, copywriters developed special writing techniques to provoke curiosity. The more curiosity, the more people read the entire ad and purchased the product.
You can apply this same approach to your website titles.
This gets people to stop scrolling, pay attention to your link, and click through to read your website page.
Here are some examples of how this might work:
- Make a promise – “Heal Your Mind and Soul in 5 Minutes a Day”
- Include a secret – “The Best Fitness Program is Not What You Think”
- Make a prediction – “Your Lawn Will Be the Envy of the Neighbors”
- Tell a story – “How to Make a Fortune With Foolish Investments”
Tip #5 – Anticipate Search Intent
When people search for information online, they have different intents, and these intents fall into four categories.
When someone searches for “financial planner cost” they are doing research. A search for “hire a financial planner” shows they are ready to buy.
To maximize the effectiveness of your title, try to match the intent of the reader:
There you have it.
I hope that you can now answer “what is a website title.” Not just that, you also know how to write one that will:
- Get your page in the search results AND
- Make searchers curious enough to click the website title link
I encourage you to take your newfound knowledge and put it to work.
This is the best way for you to retain it so you don’t forget.
Here’s what I’d like you to do:
- Open up Google in your web browser
- Type the following search “site:[your website domain name]” (for amazon.com, the search would be “site:amazon.com”)
- This will show you a list of every page on your website along with its title
Do you see titles that are missing, incomplete, or unclear?
Block out time on your calendar to update your titles so they are clear, include key words, and make people want to click.
Don’t have the time or the desire to do it yourself?
Our website copywriting service can help you refresh your titles in a snap.