Titles are the large blue text that users click on to visit a site in search results; users will not see the title on the page when they arrive at your site:
The title is displayed in a web browser, but not as part of the page itself. Typically, part of the title will show in a ‘tab’ at the top of the browser window:
Titles are used by search engines to determine which keywords a page targets and also have a significant impact on clickthrough rate (how many users choose to click on your listing as opposed to others present in search results).
Titles should contain keywords relevant to a page, but still be appealing to human visitors. Note that because they will be read before a user visits your site, a key writing consideration is to use text that makes sense out of context – i.e. can be read on a third party site and still make sense.
For example, let’s consider fictitious company ‘Widget Corp’ who provide a variety of computer-related services. A title of “Our Services” might make sense as a link within their site, but means nothing to visitors who are choosing whether to click. “IT Management Services” would provide clear information on which services are provided.
A common method to create titles is to consider them as the reverse of a ‘breadcrumb trail’. Many sites include this navigation element to show users where they are, typically going from the least specific page (the homepage) to a category e.g.
Home >> Our Services >> IT Management Services
A title will reverse this order, going from the most specific information to the least specific, and also make sure that all of the words make sense out of context:
IT Management Services | Business Services | Widget Corp
It is a best practice to always include a site name or brand element within titles, to provide clear context.
There are strict limits on the length of a title, and we recommend approximately 7 or 8 words (65 characters). Note that when editing, the character limit will be displayed below the text entered. Users will not be able to see text over this limit in search results. It is acceptable for the brand name element to be ‘cut off’ in situations where page titles are unavoidably long (if your subject is ‘floccinaucinihilipilification’, for instance) but the loss of any information specific to the page is to be strongly avoided.
Think about titles as similar to the name of a textbook, and imagine someone in a library searching for it. A clear name that tells readers what the book will contain is likely to be found much more easily.