What’s the best way to get a nice boost of relevant traffic to your website?
The answer is simple…
By going back to “SEO Basics” that work every time. In fact, if you apply one of the favorite, quick-win traffic methods used by SEO companies – you can easily experience the same across-the-board increases they get for their clients.
What is it?
Optimizing title tags.
Yup, it’s that easy – and I’m going to show you exactly how to do it. Let’s get started.
What Is This Title Tag Thingy Anyway?
The title tag is one of the first things a visitor notices in the search results and it holds a lot of weight when they’re deciding what to click on. It can be the reason somebody gives you a read – or the very reason somebody decides to completely ignore your content – again.
If you type into google “best site in the world”, this is what comes up.
Notice that words used in the search query are bolded in both the title tag and meta description. This helps draw the attention of searchers and increases the likelihood of a click on your result.
After clicking on the search result and landing on the page, the title tag can then be found primarily in two place:
- The very top of the browser
- On the browser tab
We also find page titles being used with URLs shared in social media and as titles for bookmarks.
How Do I Change it?
We’re not going to get overly technical here, but it’s important to realize how simple this actually is, where you find it, and how easy it is to optimize.
Here’s what the raw code looks like:
<title>The Best Page in The Universe</title>
Don’t panic If you’re not a coder, because it is not complicated. If you’re using WordPress, it’s even easier because you simply type your title tag into the corresponding field in your post editor – and then publish it:
If you’re using an seo plugin like Yoast SEO, once you add your change to the correct field, it automatically populates and updates the rest of your seo meta data. This makes it very , VERY easy for us.
This is what it looks like in the Yoast SEO section after adding the new title:
Heed This Warning Before Optimizing Title Tags
Despite all the buzz about the diminishing effect of the title tag on SEO, it would be absolutely ridiculous for you to begin optimizing titles without first paying very close attention to some extremely important advice.
The first thing you need to realize is that you don’t want make any drastic changes. The title tag is an important ranking factor, so if you make big changes to the wording and the syntax, it could obviously have a dramatic effect on your rankings.
It’s quite possible that instead of your change leading to a click increase, it leads instead to a drop in search impressions – maybe even a dramatic drop.
It will happen sooner or later and you’ll need to be prepared when it does. It’s part of learning what works and what doesn’t – and it happens to all of us.
Here’s what you do to prepare for this possibility and how to fix it when it happens:
- Before changing your title, copy and paste the original version into a spreadsheet for safekeeping.
- Change only one thing at a time. When you’re optimizing a page, only change the title tag, or the meta description. Don’t change them both at the same time on the same page. By following this simple procedure, you’ll be able to narrow down what action lead to the drop and easily change it back.
- After making the change, watch your page stats closely for a few days.
- If you notice a drop in IMPRESSIONS for that page, paste the original title tag back into place.
- Wait for traffic levels to return to normal.
- Try something different.
Why Would Someone Click My Page Title?
Your page title is basically a 70 character ad for your content. It should describe what the page is about and function in the same capacity as a headline for an article or ad.
If you work diligently and make it appealing, it’ll draw the interest of many and influence them to click on your result instead of another option. This is a powerful opportunity to quickly increase traffic to your page with people that really want to see your great content.
By understanding how the title tag functions and what people are actually searching for – you’re better able to create a result more appealing than all of the others. When yours is more appealing and relevant than surrounding results, you substantially increase the likelihood of winning the click – and then getting the conversion.
Have you ever wondered why some click on the second or third result instead of the first? Or why some people don’t click anything at all on the first page? Most people simply continue scanning results until something catches their eye – even if that “something” isn’t found until the second or third page of search results.
This is mostly due to the relevance, wording, and overall appeal of your page title.
Your mission is to make your page title the most relevant and appealing of all those served up by the search engines.
Ideas On How To Get Started?
If you’re looking for ideas to improve your page title and you’re not that comfortable with analytics, I’ll give you a simple way to get started.
Type your phrase into google and take a look at what is being used by the top 5 or 10 results. Get inspiration from them and then make yours better. Here are the top results for the “best chocolate chip cookie recipe:
In addition to the extremely appealing (and mouthwatering) titles, notice how rich snippets also add to the appeal. We’ll touch this subject in an upcoming post.
How Do I Optimize My Title Tag?
Google’s advises us that each page title needs to be unique, descriptive, and concise.
In addition to these things it’s a good idea if each one:
- Is Relevant – to the content on the page
- Is Interesting – to the prospective visitor
- Is Carefully Worded – to peek the interest of the visitor
- Contains Keywords – without keyword stuffing. This also works best if they are closer to front of the title
- Contains Numbers – whenever it makes sense
- Expresses A Benefit – what’s in it for them
Is Short – less than 70 characters whenever possible
What Do I Do Next?
You keep optimizing by watching your stats, studying your analytics, and testing new things. No need to fear if you only change one thing and keep the original version in your spreadsheet. Hopefully, your change will lead to an improvement – if not, put the original back and then try it again! I know you can do it.
You never stop trying to improve your stats – ever! Optimization anything is a constant process that needs daily attention, but if you keep at it, you’ll see the results and reap the benefits. You’ll get better at it every day.
Learning to write enticing headlines is a powerful skill that can lead to great increases in traffic, but like anything else – you’ve got to get out there and take action to make it work. You’ll get better at it quickly and wonder why you had not tried it earlier.
Are there any title tag optimization tips you’d like to share? We’d love to hear them.
Here are a few additional resources to help you out on your journey:
- The Google SEO Starter Guide
- John Morrow’s free guide “Headline Hacks” – shows us how to write headlines and blog posts that go viral