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SEO Title Tag Best Practices and Generation Guide

by Andreas Voniatis Data Scientist

What are Title Tags for SEO?

Page titles are a ranking signal and used by search engines to semantically identify content on a webpage. In the source code they are encapsulated by the title HTML tag as follows:

<title>My web page title | mysite.com</title>

Placing targeted keyword(s) in a page title will boost the natural search presence of the given page. Page titles are also visible to users in the search results, and provide an opportunity to boost click through rate.

Best Practice

Write a unique meta title for each of the web pages, which:

  • Approximately 60 characters in length. ┬áThe reason for 60 as opposed the character limit of 70 is to make allowances for mobile devices which have harrower screen widths than desktop web browsers.
  • Accurately reflect the content of the web page.
  • Uses natural language. If on the contrary, the content appears to be filled with keywords then Google will display its own rewritten version of your title tag.
  • Includes the website name. This helps distinguish your website from the other websites ranked in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) alongside you.

Getting your title tag will not only directly impact your ranking position in online search but also the amount traffic you receive via the Click Through Rate (CTR) which is the ratio of organic search clicks to organic search impressions.

Challenges

When evaluating page titles, there are several and common challenges most digital teams and websites have in common:

  • Missing Page Titles. If a page does not have a page title, then it is not using one of the fundamental ways to rank for a search term.
  • Duplicate Titles. Pages on your site have duplicate titles. This is confusing to search engine robots because they do not know which page you want users to be served. As a result, they make a choice as to which page they deem most representative and serve that in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). This process however can mean that your pages compete against each other and can lead to lower rankings overall.
  • Title Lengths. There are two main problems associated with the length of meta titles. If a title is too short, then it is likely that a page is not utilising the available pixel limit to its full advantage. If it is too long, then Google will truncate the title, which could lead to a reduction in CTR due to unaesthetic or incomplete titles.

The good news is that Title tag content is relatively easy to change and optimise.

Measuring title tag performance

To measure and evaluate the performance of your title tags, the first reference is your webmaster search console. For example if Google is main search engine source of traffic the Google Search Console (GSC) would be the data resource to consult.

Look under Performance > Search Results, and you’ll see data for your preselected time period, the impressions, clicks, ranking position and CTR. Click on Pages you’ll have a list of URLs that comprise the headline statistics. By joining this data with crawl data (which will contain the title tag content) you can segment and analyse title tag patterns to see which ones perform better before deciding on further title optimisation changes or split AB tests.

 

Generating Title Tags

Title tag generation can be achieved by constructing a neural network, specifically a Recurrent Neural Networks (RNNs) which is an Artificial Intelligent (AI) model.

At a basic level, you would feed your RNN with at least 1 million title tags, associated content with corresponding performance search console data (as outlined above) so that the model would learn what makes a good, mediocre and bad title.

To go that step further as we have done, we would also create a segmented model as optimal the title tag pattern for blog posts are very different to an ecommerce shopping item page. In that instance you’ll require, 1 million training observations per segment.

 

Title Tag Strategy

Of course, if you don’t have the expertise to build your own RNN, then you could instead on a case by case basis, look at the top 100 ranking websites and look for title tag patterns to help you craft the perfect title tag for your web pages.

 

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