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How NOT To Write Your Title Tags For SEO

August 21st, 2014 | 1 comment

Shae Baxter SEO Coach + blogger

{Shae Baxter is my go-to woman for SEO wisdom. Not only does she make SEO less confusing, Shae’s approach is reassuring, helpful and authentic. I’m thrilled to have Shae guest post this week. I just know you’re going to find this useful (I know I do.)  Take it away, Shae.}




Before you throw that latte at the computer screen, this is not your typical run of the mill, full of gobbly-gook SEO post.


While writing title tags might sound b-oring, there’s a good reason why I’m writing this…and why it’s important for you to know.


The title tag is the first thing your potential customers see when they come into contact with your website. That means you need to invest the time to write compelling and effective title tags that will give you the edge over your competition.


First, let’s take a step back and define exactly what a title tag is (before this does turn into a gobbly-gook kinda post).


What Is A Title Tag?


A title tag (also referred to as a page title) is a line of HTML that works behind the scenes and contains metadata about a webpage. A well-written title tag helps to inform the search engines what your page is about so it appears in the search engines results.


Using my own website as an example, the page title appears in two key places:


Browser – The page title shows up in the top of a browser as follows:

page title in browser

Search Result Pages – The page title also shows up in the search engine results page (SERPs):

page title in search results

Google puts a lot of weight in the text that appears in the title tag. In other words, it looks to the title tag to determine and understand what your page is about when assessing a search engine query.

The title tag appears at the top of your HTML inside the <head> area. They also appear in the browser bar and in the search results.


Google also looks to the first 2 to 3 words contained in the title tag to assess what you page is about. This means you should place important keywords at the beginning of the title tag if you can.

MOZ states the closer to the start of the title tag a keyword is, the more helpful it will be for ranking and the more likely a person will click through from the search results page.

Another thing to remember is you have less than 70 characters to write a compelling title tag. This is the limit Google displays in search results. If you go beyond 70 characters, the search engines will show an ellipsis – “…” to indicate that a page title has been cut off.

Well-Written Title Tags Lets Search Engines And People Know What Your Site Is About

Not only is it important to write good title tags to let search engines know what your page is about, they also help people decide whether to click through to your site when it shows up in the search results.


In other words, having well-written title tags is good for SEO and people. You need to invest the time to craft these tags carefully.


So let’s get to it.


Include Keywords In A Natural Way


The mistake many people make is to stuff their title tags with way too many keywords.


While it’s important to include keywords, you need to pay particular attention to the way your target keywords are included.


Keyword stuffing is not the answer but neither is ignoring them altogether.


If you use WordPress you can edit the page title using your SEO plugin. So how do you create an effective page title that is worthy of a click?


You want to optimise it for the keyword or phrase that you’re targeting but that alone is a little dry and boring. You need to go beyond that. Instead you want to target your keyword AND create something that entices your ideal client to click on it – something that speaks directly to them.


The Right Way To Write A Title Tag


According to MOZ, when you structure your title tags, the optimal format is to include your primary keyword, secondary keyword and brand name.

Optimal Format

Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Brand Name
Brand Name | Primary Keyword and Secondary Keyword

Let’s use this format to write a title tag for the homepage of a hypothetical food and health coaching site called “Food For Thought.”

Food & Health Coach For Busy Entrepreneurs / Food For Thought

In this example, the primary keyword phrase is “Food & Health Coach.” I didn’t use a secondary keyword phrase because the word food already appears in the company name. I didn’t want to add it again to make it appear spammy and unnatural.

Here’s how you can write a title tag for the “About Us” page.

“About Us | Food For Thought – Food & Health Coach for Busy Entrepreneurs

Let’s say someone is searching for “yoga poses.”


YOGA.com has a pretty boring page title. It doesn’t compel me to want to click on it. YogaGlo.com is worse – their page title is only optimized for one word. In both of these examples, their page titles are only optimized for their keyword and nothing more.

However Yoga Journal, Fitness Magazine and Buzzfeed have page titles that are a little more compelling. They provide more information to the reader so the reader has a clear idea of what to expect if they were to click on it. By being more specific, e.g. stating “yoga poses for beginners” in the page title, it’s likely to attract people that are actually searching for “yoga poses for beginners.

How To Write A Bad Title Tag

A bad example of a title tag for the “About Us” page would be:

“About Us – Food For Thought Food Coaching, Food Coach and Health Coach”

See how I mentioned food, coach and coaching more than once? It sounds unnatural. When you read this out loud, it doesn’t sound right. If it doesn’t sound right to you, then it will most likely sound unnatural to Google and that’s not what you want.

You risk being penalised.

Similarly, a bad example for the homepage title tag would be:

“Food Coach and Health Coach | Food For Thought Food Coaching”

Again, the same words are being repeated.

More Tips On Writing Stronger Title Tags

While it’s OK to use your brand name in the title tag, put it at the end. If no one is searching for your brand name, then don’t put it at the beginning. Remember, Google pays particular attention to the first 2 to 3 keywords in the title tag so make these count. Use keywords that people are searching for and put these at the beginning of your title tag.

You should also create unique title tags for every page on your site.  You want to avoid using the same, generic title tag on multiple pages on your site. The purpose of a title tag is to describe what each page is about.

Even Google says to avoid repeated or boilerplate titles. In Google’s own words “titling every page on a commerce site “Cheap products for sale”, for example, makes it impossible for users to distinguish one page differs another.”

In his ebook SEO Secrets, Australian copywriter Glenn Murray suggests considering the four criteria for writing an effective headline in which to write a title tag:

  • Self Interest – Does it promise a benefit to the searcher?

  • Quick, Easy Way – Does it offer one?

  • News – Does it contain any?

  • Curiosity – Does it sound interesting?


By Shae Baxter,

www.ShaeBaxter.com. Follow her on Google Plus.


Shae Baxter is a SEO coach, trainer, blogger and writer and is the creator of Get Your Blog Read By Millions SEO Coaching Program, designed for creative women entrepreneurs. She helps creative entrepreneurs create content and blog posts that Google loves.


Shae believes that women don’t need to compromise on being authentic + original and that SEO should not get in the way of this.


Her mission is to create the best SEO + blogging training resources for women entrepreneurs on the planet and to inspire tens of thousands of women to spread their message far and wide using this powerful force that is Search Engine Optimization.


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One person has commented
  1. I did the mistake of hiring an overseas SEO once off Elance and he totally effed up my other blog with shitty SEO title tags and overall SEO bad practices. I had to go in and correct it (and still haven’t even finished it all now) – smh.

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