Common Mistakes to Avoid When Creating Meta Titles

Do's and Don'ts of Creating Meta Titles

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What is a Meta Title?

A meta title shows the name of a web page. The title is displayed by the browser, usually at the top of your computer screen, and tells a reader what page they are on. Meta titles are also read by search engine robots and seen by site visitors so it is important to have a strong title for search engines, but one that still makes sense to your human website visitors.

The meta title was once very important for helping the page rank higher in search engine returns and many webmasters wrote them to cater only to search engine robots first without much regard for how it read to website visitors.

Meta titles should make sense to the reader, but the wording should also be based on keyword search popularity and relevance to the rest of the web page including other meta data and content.  As you may have guessed, meta titles are important to think about, but should also sound natural to the reader.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Creating Meta Titles

The biggest mistakes you can make when creating a meta title for your page are:

  1. Not creating any page title at all
  2. Making titles too long. Long page titles are truncated and search engines stop reading after a certain number of characters. Limit your title to 55 characters maximum, including spaces and punctuation.
  3. Naming your page the same name as your website or business name
  4. Naming all your pages the same name, or something similar to each other
  5. Naming the page without connecting it to your content and other meta data
  6. Repeating (spamming) keywords in titles.

    If you are having trouble figuring out what keywords to focus on, you can use keyword selector tools and keyword density tools to help you write your meta title.

    Examples of Bad Meta Titles

    The following example meta titles are too vague and do not give search engine robots or you website readers enough information:

    • Flowers
    • Population Statistics
    • Chocolate Indulgence
    • E-Z Tax Tips

    Examples of Good Meta Titles

    • Easy Tips on Growing Flowering Shrubs
    • 2008 Population Statistics, Number of People In US
    • Best Baked Coca Recipes Chocolate Cake
    • Tax Advice - How to Pay Less In Taxes

    Note that the above title tags accomplish three things:

    1. They help robots understand what is most important about the content on the page by repeating part of the keyword phrases that would be found in article titles and content;
    2. They make sense to people reading them; and
    3. By using different words meaning the same or similar things without actually repeating them (spam) and using plurals when sensible, it allows for greater possibilities for appearing in searches for the same information but on different terms.

    How Long Should a Meta Title Be in Length?

    Generally, a title should be long enough to be clear; short enough to avoid being truncated.  Truncation happens when a title is too long and means that only part of your title will show in search engine results.

    Search engine robots may also only read a certain number of characters in certain types of meta data and then they ignore the rest and just move on. Different search engines read different numbers of characters but if you keep your titles less than 55 characters you will keep most major search engine robots happy.

      Although Google sometimes seems to stop just shy of 55 characters based on their chosen font and how much linear space individual characters take up, aim for 55 characters and you should be fine.

    Tips on How to Create Powerful Meta Titles

    When creating meta titles:

    • Do repeat keyword ideas in different words - no more than twice is usually best and keywords should not be identical within the same meta data string
    • Do tie these phrases to your content and other meta data
    • Do use plurals and word variations when possible
    • Do limit the use of punctuation
    • Do use initial caps throughout the title

    Summary

    Catering to search engines is important - but that only means following their recommended practices and not forgetting about your human site visitors.  When writing meta titles just ask yourself how does it sound when you read it out loud to others - does it make sense?

    Would they know what you are talking about? If not, then you are thinking too hard about appeasing search engines and not enough about your audience.  In the long run, you are much better off creating human-friendly meta title.

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