When a Web page shows up in search engine results, the first thing people see is the page title, followed by a text excerpt from the page or a summary description of it. You want to make sure yours look good to the searcher if you want those high search engine rankings to convert to an equally high click-through rate. Optimize your page titles and meta descriptions as best you can, and you might just make searchers feel they would be silly not to click over to your site. Here are strategies that have made a difference for me.
1. Keep Your Titles at a Reasonable Length
Don’t make your page titles either too short or too long. If too short, the chances are you are using the same title as many other pages—and all of you are competing for the same set of keywords. So avoid extremely brief titling. This serves two purposes: first, to help your pages stand out with unique titles, and second to get you to rank for “long tail” keywords. (See item 3 below.) On the other hand, too long a title may get cut off in search results. Aim for less than 60 characters. A good title rarely needs more than that.
2. Put Your Primary Keywords at the Beginning of the Title
Search engines display keywords in bold in SERPs. Placing your target keywords at or as near to the start of the title makes it look more relevant to the searcher’s query. You don’t have to do this all the time. For example, if a title that begins with “Seven Tips to…” or the ever-popular “How to…” is fine. People like “list” type of articles and “how to” is often part of a keyword search anyway. But don’t insert words that add no value to the title, especially at the beginning. Also, if you use a blog like WordPress, change the default title structure so that the post title appears before the blog title. (I do this with the All-in-One SEO Pack plugin.)
3. Target Long Tail Keywords
Long tails are the small player’s key to success. Don’t even hope to rank for one- or two-word keywords like “toys” or “baby toys” when your website is new. Go for longer phrases. By targeting long phrases and questions, you avoid high competition. You also target searchers who are looking for very specific information. Create articles that provide that information. Then construct your titles so as to leave no doubt to the searcher’s mind that you have what he or she is looking for. Need help finding long tails? Raid forums pertaining to your niche. These are excellent places to find what people are asking about.
4. Write a Killer Meta Description
Don’t snub meta descriptions. A well-crafted meta description can make the difference between looking good and being an embarrassment to yourself in SERPs. Write a short, snappy yet keyword-rich summary of your article. One that leaves no doubt as to what it’s about. One or two sentences would surely look better and cleaner than fragmented sentences and a bunch of trailing periods. How to insert a meta description easily and quickly on a blog? Use an SEO plugin like All-in-One SEO.
5. Craft an Attention-Grabbing Title
Why in the world would someone click over to your page? Because you offer them something they want to know. Make your title enticing. Give people a clear idea rather than a vague one about the article. I’ve been nebulous with page titles myself, and I’ve learned they don’t work. Example: “6 Tips to Extend Laptop Battery Life” and “The Secret to Make Your Laptop Last for 10 Years” sound more exciting than “Laptop Battery Care,” don’t they? One word of caution: Don’t get carried away in a bid to make sizzling titles. Make a title only as good as the content itself.
Landing first page on Google isn’t your ultimate goal; it’s getting people to visit your site and stay there. Prepare to look your best for the day you make it to page 1 in SERPs.