How long does it take to write a sentence with less than 70 characters including spaces? Not long at all. Thinking about what to write takes more time than the writing itself.
Google shows no more than 70 characters of a title before it is cut off with an ellipsis (…). As a result, every word and letter counts.
First, it helps to think about how page titles show up in search engines.
Tactic #1: Put Keywords at Start of Title
Search results usually display three objects to the searcher:
- The document title.
- The document URL.
- The document meta description.
For many years, search engines would bold the keywords that appear in all three of the objects. As of this writing, Google now only bolds the keywords in the meta description while Bing does so in the URL and meta description.
Regardless, the typical searcher looks for the keywords in the title first, the meta description second and the URL third.
Because people using the English language read from left to right, it’s common sense that keywords appearing at the beginning of the title are more likely to catch someone’s attention than keywords at the end of it.
Tactic #2: Choose Number of Words Carefully
With a 70-character limit, a title might contain eight to 12 short words. That assumes the writer of the title wants to use the entire title space. Some don’t.
The keyword phrase is the first consideration. The phrase usually consists of two or three words. One word has little relevance. Four words may reach a small and highly targeted audience. Four long words might leave only enough space for just four more words, which is not much space to explain the article’s topic.
For effective page title SEO, the phrase should be highly similar if not exactly the same as the document’s <h1> tags, article body, image alt tag, etc.
Some SEO practitioners believe that a title should consist only of the keyword phrase. That approach has one major benefit: It’s easy and quick to read. It also has two major detriments: It lacks a selling point and a brand.
Tactic #3: Sell the Article
Our hypothetical searcher above sees four or five titles that look appealing. All of them have the keywords from the search. Four of the titles are long and one has only the keyword phrase.
The search needs more information to make a choice. That increases the odds the title with only the keyword phrase will be dropped from consideration because it doesn’t explain enough to justify a click.
Why waste a click by going to a page with the wrong spin on the subject?
The selling point is based on benefit. It says in a few words that the document contains relevant, original and transparent content (not an affiliate marketing trick) that will fulfill the original search.
Selling the article with the title also is more effective by using verbs and calls to action.
Tactic #4: Include the Brand
Branding is an important online marketing tactic for many sites. It is the ability of a site to get people to remember the site name so that they come back to it and become loyal and frequent users.
If the title has any space left, it is a simple practice to add the site name after the keyword phrase and selling point, such as “Best Page Titles Use 4 Tactics for SEO – Promise Media”.
If a user searches enough in a narrowly defined topic area, and if a site has a large number of pages relevant to that area, the user will be more likely to see the brand repeatedly in the title, remember that brand and visit the site directly.