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Title tags explained

Wednesday, 8 December 2010 | By Wai Hong Fong

Search engines determine a website's relevance to a search query according to on-page (internal factors) and off-site (external factors) signals.




Today we will look at title tags, which are arguably one of the most important on-page factors to work on. They can potentially affect rankings with immediate effect.


When writing title tags, you must ensure that all relevant keywords to the page that you are describing are contained in the title tag. You can find relevant keywords to the subject matter of the page by using the Google Adwords Keyword Tool.


It's optimum practice to use no more than two or three keywords or one or two key phrases (two or three words per phrase) in a title tag. For more competitive keywords, it's also better to put them closer to the front (left-hand side).  

In writing your title tags, you need to bear the user in mind. As titles will show up in the search results, the number of people clicking through to your website will be determined by how relevant and human-readable these titles are. Poor title tags which are less appealing to the user's search intent may lose clicks to listings that are lower in rankings.

When possible, title tags should be formed with a good flow and connection between the keywords, like in a sentence. If this is not possible, such as in cases where keywords/key phrases are very long, you just need to ensure that the title tag appears in a meaningful and aesthetically appealing way in the search results.


Title tags in search results will also be truncated after they exceed 70 characters, so it is best practice to ensure all important bits or the entire title tag is within 70 characters. It is also good practice to include your company/website name at the front or at the back of the title tag on all pages as a branding exercise and to help the user associate the page to the brand.


Example of a keyword stuffed title tag: “telescopes – binoculars – OzScopes Australian shop”

A better, human readable, search engine friendly,  title tag for the above would be: “Telescopes & Binoculars by the Australian Telescope Experts | OZScopes”


Wai Hong Fong is co-founder and chieftain at OZHut, a multi-niche online retailer that is passionate about truly serving people in the online space. In 2010, he was recognized as one of Australia's Top 30 under 30 entrepreneurs by SmartCompany.

Wai Hong also blogs on his journey as an Entrepeneur, with specific interests in SEO, Online Retail and learning to build strong businesses that thrive and in turn help us grow healthy communities that cherish our families, lives and wellbeing.