Having a good page title and description can benefit your rankings and increase the number of visitors to your site. Owen Powis explains how to get the most out your title and description by using the new Title and Description wizard.
The page title is one of the most important individual on page elements for SEO. Like the title of a book it tells the search engine (and your potential visitor) what the information within it is likely to be about.
The page title is also used to give someone looking at your website an easy way of seeing what it is about.
The easiest way to see what the title of a page is, is by looking at the heading of the tab in your browser:
Why page titles are so important
Google looks at hundreds of different elements on and off a page to decide if and where to rank that page for any given search query. The page title is one of the main elements which are looked at on a page and bears a direct relation to how well the page will rank for certain terms.
Including a keyword within the page title can make the page rank better for that keyword, as it helps to establish how relevant the page is to the search term.
Just having a well optimized page title, however, will not make a page rank well, but you should still look on it as a key part of an SEO strategy.
Having a poor page title can hurt more than your rankings: your conversion rate from the search engine results can suffer as well. The page title is a key part of what Google shows in the search results, so it is also part of the ‘ad’ for your site, as shown in these search results:
How to write a proper page title
When composing a page title there are three main aspects to remember:
Let’s go through these in a bit more detail:
Page title length
The length of the page title is key. Google will only show 69 characters within the results and will cut off anything above this. Importantly, Google will not pay attention to the keywords which are over this limit:
This example is taken from an old Wordtracker article. Looking at the code we can see what's happened:
Everything looks fine but counting the characters we find that it is 70 characters long, that’s just one character over. Google has then cut the entire word off the end, just because it's one letter over.
Within the Title and Description Wizard we keep count of the number of characters you've used and let you know when you go over:
Let's have a look at the Wizard itself - to open it up, just head to the Keyword Map, and from the Niche you want to work on (remember, each Niche represents a page on your website), and from the drop-down menu choose 'Title & Description Wizard'. It'll open up for you, showing your Targets, and giving you a space to enter the url (the web address) of your page, and spaces to enter your title copy and your description.
Keywords in your page title
Placing your keywords in the page title can help you rank better for those terms, so it’s really important that they are included.
Within the Title and Description Wizard we pull in the keywords you have targeted within that niche. As you include the keywords we check (tick) them for you and any words you've forgotten to include are underlined:
Advertise through your page title
Always remember that the page title is part of the advertising for your site. It’s usually the very first impression people have of the page as it is shown directly in the search results.
If you try and stuff in as many keywords as you can without paying attention to how the title reads it won't be attractive to the human user.
And if Google detects the result has a poor clickthrough rate then it may choose to lower your ranking, so there's no point in building a title just for the search engines.
A great way to split up the keywords within the title is by using a pipe symbol (|): this helps to keep under the character limit.
Or combine keywords so that, for instance, if you had the keywords keyword research and keyword research data; you could write:
Keyword Research Data | Wordtracker
You don’t have to use a pipe to separate keywords, but steer away from using non-uniform characters, like stars, in order to make your result stand out. Google may down weight the rankings for sites which do this.
If you want to make it stand out more, capitalize the first letter of important words. While capitalizing the entire title will not look good, capitalizing the first letter of the important words can read well and draw attention to the result.
It's also a good idea to include some branding in the title as it reinforces who the result is from (even if people don’t click on the result they may still see the search result).
Placing the branding at the end of the title works well as, firstly, your keywords will stand out at the front and secondly it means that if you do creep over the character limit it’s this element that is cut and not your important keywords.
Creating a good page description
The page description can be found below the page title in the search results:
It's taken from the meta tags within the page. Meta tags are simply bits of code which carry additional information to that displayed within the browser and they're only visible by viewing the source code of the page. Right-click within your browser and select 'view source' to see this.
The page description should be a summary of the information found within the page, so that you can gain a quick impression of what you are likely to find when you click through from the search results. The core elements to remember for a description are:
- Call to action
Length of your page description
The length of the description is restricted to 156 characters - any more than this and Google will cut words off the end. Of course, this doesn’t look good and can mean that if you include vital information within the text beyond this limit, it won’t be shown.
The Title and Description Wizard has a character counter to help you with this.
The description must provide a proper summary of the page.
Stuffing the description full of keywords is not likely to help. Although Google will show keywords relevant to the search in bold within it, this has no direct influence on rankings.
However if the searcher doesn’t know what they are clicking through to they are unlikely to click on the result and that can damage your rankings as having a poor clickthrough rate is a negative signal for Google.
Advertise your brand within the page description
Make sure that you include your brand within the description. This reinforces who the result is from and helps to build brand awareness.
Even if someone doesn’t click on the result they are still seeing your 'advert' and its branding.
Include a call to action
Including a call to action can help to increase the clickthrough rate from the search results. More people clicking on the results means more visitors. It also sends a positive signal to Google which can improve your rankings.
A call to action is something which encourages the user to click on your result, for instance:
"Find out more online today"
Putting a time frame within it makes the call to action stronger: “Find out more today” is much more persuasive than simply “Find out more” Here's an example of a description with all these elements:
"Writing the perfect description tag for SEO can be difficult. Here is the Wordtracker guide to getting it right. Find out more online today."
Once you've set a title and description for the niches in your keyword map, just use the map's 'Export' button at the top right, and you'll see all the information you entered, sensibly organized and all ready for you to copy out into your content management system or html code.
Try the wizard out today and speed up your workflow.
Free trial of Wordtracker's Keywords tool
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About Owen Powis
Owen Powis is the lead SEO Consultant at Wordtracker and has a half decade of experience working as an SEO Consultant. That time has been spent working at some of the UK's largest agencies dealing with clients ranging from SMEs to large blue chip organizations. He can be found @owenfantastic on Twitter.