Page titles for effective SEO

 

Well conceived page titles are essential in helping people to find your content, whether they are searching on Google or already viewing your website. Page titles and post titles are a crucial, high scoring piece of the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) / findability jigsaw puzzle.

So many titles!

Page titles (and post titles) appear in all sorts of places:

  • as the top level heading on a page or post
  • in a website navigation menu
  • in a browser toolbar tab
  • in a browser history list
  • in Facebook, Evernote and other sharing or bookmarking apps
  • in a Google search results page.

They have to do several jobs – and what works well as a title in one place may work less well in another. Luckily, a page (or post) has a range of titling options and using these effectively can make your page much more enticing.

Meta titles

The meta title does not appear directly on your site but shows up in a wide variety of other places, most importantly as the ‘big blue text’ at the top of a Google search result. If you were to look at the HTML for your page, you would find the title meta hidden away in the “head” section along with other meta information.

The meta title needs to provide a very clear, accurate and concise description of what your page is about. It needs to be literal and to-the-point.

 
Search engine result snippet, including page title and meta description
 

If you use WordPress, you can get easy access to page meta titles by using the Yoast SEO plugin, which also provides on-page advice about making the most of your meta titles, page descriptions and other meta elements.

Page titles and post titles

You will usually see these titles at the top of a page as the main heading. In publishing software like WordPress, this is the title you type in at the beginning of your cms page, and which WordPress uses to generate the URL of your page.

 
Page title/post title in WordPress
 

This title appears within your site rather than externally in search engines and social media. It might show up in your internal search results, listings and archives, as well as at the top of the page itself.

You can safely assume that people viewing this title variant will know more about you than someone merely looking at your Google results. After all, they have already decided to visit your site. This title can afford to be more granular and detailed than the ‘meta’ version. Nonetheless, you need to ensure that it is clear and unambiguous in the context of your internal search results, or as a title in a list of posts.

Permalink and slug

 
The slug is a version of the page title
 

The permalink is the long-term web address (URL) of your page, and the last bit of the permalink is known as the ‘slug’. It is the piece of the URL referring specifically to the individual post or page title. By default, the slug is usually a lowercase variant of the main page title, and is created automatically by the cms. However, in most cms, you can craft the slug to make it more useful to your visitors. In particular, you can shorten the slug to make it easier to type, and rewrite it to make it more easy to understand.

If you are feeling ambitious, you might also look into page redirects, allowing you to make even more user-friendly URLs and customised landing pages for visitors.

Navigation titles

You can choose to give your pages alternative titles in your navigation. If you have long, complex page titles, you may want to make shorter, cleaner variants to display in your navigation menus, to avoid ending up with a cluttered and confusing navigation system. If this were a page rather than a blog post, ‘Crafting titles for effective SEO’ would probably be too long to fit comfortably into a navigation menu – perhaps the single word ‘titles’ would be a good replacement.

Find out more:

Crafting good titles for SEO

How to write meta title tags for SEO (with good and bad examples)

Create good titles and snippets in Search Results

 
 

When kings the sword of justice first lay down,
They are no kings, though they possess the crown.
Titles are shadows, crowns are empty things,
The good of subjects is the end of kings.

Daniel Defoe ,  The True-Born Englishman: A Satyr