Common Mistakes to Avoid When Creating Meta Titles
Why Meta Titles Are Vital to SEO
A meta title shows the name of a web page. The title is displayed by the browser, usually at the top of your computer screen, and tells a reader what page they are on. Meta titles are also read by search engine robots and seen by site visitors. Because of this, it's important to have a strong title in consideration of search engines, but one that still makes sense to your human website visitors.
The meta title was once very important for helping the page rank higher in search engine returns, and many webmasters wrote them to cater only to search engine robots—initially without much regard for how it read to website visitors.
Meta titles should make sense to the reader, but the wording should also be based on keyword search popularity and relevance to the rest of the web page including other metadata and content. Meta titles are should also sound natural to the reader.
What to Avoid When Creating Meta Titles
The biggest mistakes you could make include the following:
- Not creating any page title at all.
- Making titles too long. Long page titles are truncated, and search engines stop reading after a certain number of characters. Limit your title to a maximum of 55 characters, including spaces and punctuation.
- Naming your page the same name as your website or business name.
- Naming all your pages the same name, or something similar to each other.
- Naming the page without connecting it to your content and other metadata.
- Repeating keywords in titles.
If you are having trouble figuring out what keywords to focus on, you can use keyword selector tools and keyword density tools to help you write your meta title.
Examples of Bad Meta Titles
The following example meta titles are too vague and do not give search engine robots or your website readers enough information:
- Population Statistics
- Chocolate Indulgence
- Tax Tips
Examples of Good Meta Titles
- Easy Tips on Growing Flowering Shrubs
- 2018 Population Statistics, Number of People In U.S.
- Award-Winning Coca Chocolate Cake Recipe
- Tax Advice, How to Pay Less In Taxes
Note that the above title tags accomplish three things:
- They help robots understand what is most important about the content on the page by repeating part of the keyword phrases that would be found in article titles and content
- They make sense to people reading them
- They afford a greater opportunity to appear in search because they use different words meaning the same or similar things without actually repeating them—and they use plurals, when appropriate
How Long Should a Meta Title Be?
Search engine robots may also only read a certain number of characters in certain types of metadata, and then ignore the rest and just move on. Different search engines read different numbers of characters, but if you keep your titles no more than 55 characters, you will make major search engine robots happy. Although Google sometimes seems to stop just shy of 55 characters based on their chosen font and how much linear space individual characters take up, aim for 55 characters, and you should be fine.
Tips for Creating Powerful Meta Titles
Consider the following when creating meta titles:
- Repeat keyword ideas in different words—no more than twice—and keywords shouldn't be identical within the same metadata string.
- Tie-in phrases to your content and other metadata.
- Use plurals and word variations when possible.
- Limit the use of punctuation.
- Use initial caps throughout the title.
When writing meta titles just ask yourself how it sounds when you read it out loud—does it make sense? Would others know what you are talking about? If not, then you are thinking too hard about appeasing search engines and not enough about your audience. In the end, you are much better off creating human-friendly meta title.