What is a title tag?
In basic terms, the title tag is the tag used to tell Google and users what that page is all about. It is very important in SEO to have unique and relevant title tags that identify what that page is all about for users and Google's crawlers.
In more advanced terms, the title tag is an HTML element located in the <head>, or top, section on each page of a website. This on-page element is a weighted factor in the SEO algorithms from Google and Bing. The title tag is shown if the website is included in the search results for a relevant search query.
Internet browsers like Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer display the title tag in the title bar of the tab and also use this text as the default bookmark link when you add the website page to your favorites list.
For example, here is how it would look on the most popular browsers:
From Google's best practices, the title tag for each page should be different on each page throughout the website and also must be under a certain length, or the title tag will be cut off and be replaced with ellipses and look something like this...
In the past, Google previously limited the title tag display to around 65 characters, but over time with modernization of the display of the search results and the growth of mobile searches, they have trimmed the maximum length so to be safe stay at or under 60 characters to make sure nothing gets cut off. If the title can't be trimmed and you have your brand at the end of your title tag than it won't hurt to have the brand cut off, but you don't want that to happen for all of your pages.
Now, Google and other search engines use a fixed pixel with maximum of around 470 pixels. A pixel is a small element of an image, much like the screen on a television. Web Shop Optimizer has a great tool for checking your pixel width.
The weighting of the title tag factor in search engine algorithms is from left to right, so the most important information or keyword should be positioned as far left as possible.
Analyzing your title tags
Using a program like Screaming Frog allows you to view the length and text of each title tag on your website. In each of our SEO program packages, the SEO team optimizes each title tag on the website to have the best placement of keywords, as well as locations, if the campaign is localized.
It's important that the title tag for each page is unique and not longer than 470 pixels. Google's Panda algorithm does not like to see duplicate title tags, long title tags or even missing title tags throughout the website.
Google also reserves the right to rewrite the title tag that is used in search results if they don't feel that the title tag is descriptive enough. If they do this, it can impact your clickthrough rate in a negative way.
This is why it is critical to have title tags optimized so that the entire website's rankings do not suffer from modern search engine algorithms. Installing Google Webmaster Tools on your website is one additional way to see the problems that Google notices on your website, including duplicate, long or short title tags.
Tweaking your title tags
Once a website is ranked on the first page of a search engine, then you can tweak the title tag accordingly to try and improve your click through rate for the page. Keep in mind that adjusting the title tag at that point could lead to an improvement in conversion, but possibly a decrease in ranking if any keywords or locations are removed.
When the title tag is changed on the website, it will take some time for it to be adjusted in the search engines. Google and other search engines must re-crawl the website and adjust the display, which usually takes 7-14 days depending on the authority of the website and the last time that it was crawled.
If you aren't sure of your title tags, content, or have any other questions about your website being optimized, give us a call or leave us a note so we can give you a free website consultation.