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My Process for Writing PERFECT Page Titles for BIG Rankings

page titles for SEO graphic

Ryan Stewart

I have an unhealthy obsession with being considered the world's BEST internet marketer. I'm highly active on social media and love a good debate.

Page titles remain an important element of SEO.

Not only are they a direct ranking factor, but they also influence click behavior in the SERPs.

This guide will cover my process for writing page titles, including:

  • A high level framework applicable to all types of websites
  • How to inject creative copy into page titles to boost CTR in the SERPs
  • Using special characters to break up “eye tracking” patterns
  • Breaking down title examples from lead gen and ecommerce sites
  • Tracking rankings and CTR in Search Console to gauge impact of changes

Let’s get into it.

 

I highly recommend you watch the video version of this post. There are FAR MORE insights explained thoroughly there!!! ????????????

 

NOTE: I strongly suggest you read this article about how to use entities for content optimization as a tack on to this post.

 

What is an SEO page title?

A page title is an element of HTML that specifies a page’s title, both to search engines and humans.

 

Why do they matter for SEO?

They’re important ranking factor in Google’s algorithm as they alert search engines what a page is about. They can also increase (or decrease) Click Through Rate (CTR) of a page in the SERPs, which according to most, CTR is also a ranking factor for search engines.

page titles seo

You can easily change page titles if you’re using a CMS like WordPress, Demandware or Shopify.

how to change a page title

How long should page titles be?

There’s no exact character limit, but rather a display limit based on pixels (600px). Google will typically display the first 50 to 60 characters, depending on the search (and device, etc).

If you keep your titles under 60 characters, our research suggests that you can expect about 90% of your titles to display properly.

Source

Now that’s out of the way, let’s get into my process for writing perfect SEO titles…

 

SEO title writing best practices

My baseline formula for title writing is simple…

Primary Keyword + Secondary Keyword | Brand Name

***NOTE: this nomenclature does NOT apply to the home page (more on that later).

In order to execute this, you need to know the keywords for each page – so let me illustrate with an example.

These are the keywords I’ve identified to rank our landing page for “Miami SEO”.

keyword research

Using this basic formula (Primary, Secondary, Brand), I came up with the following:

Miami SEO Services – Expert Consultants | WEBRIS

I was able to hit a number of major keyword variations with this title (services, expert, consultants), all within the local scope of Miami.

This title would help to drive rankings, but what about clicks?

There’s definitely room for improvement…Especially when we look at the SERPs for our keyword.

serp ctr titles

We have to do more to stand out

 

Adding creative copy to drive clicks

There’s a number of ways we can make a title more clickable to searchers…

1. Use action or descriptive verbs

For example…

  • Buy
  • Shop
  • Call
  • Boost
  • Learn
  • Visit
  • Check
  • Preview

Are a few examples of words that could earn more clicks because they invite the searcher to engage.

Which terms you use will depend on your audience, of course, since you wouldn’t use the word “call” if your business doesn’t have a phone line that’s staffed.

2. Play on a searcher’s emotions

Monetary references is a great way to do that, by adding is words like:

  • FREE (free shipping, free consult, etc)
  • Discount
  • Coupon

You could also play with words that infer urgency:

  • Limited
  • Only
  • Seasonal

Something I had great success with (see examples in next section) is using words to drive a sense of total-ness (is that a word…?):

  • Exact
  • Complete
  • Total

But, my all time favorite hack is…

3. Using special characters

I love this tactic because they don’t take up a lot of space in your titles but drastically help to break up the visual monotony of the SERPs.

Some examples of special characters are:

  • #
  • %
  • [brackets]
  • “quotes”

Let’s put together everything we’ve discussed so far.

Going back to our SEO agency landing page, here’s what I’ve come up with…

#1 Reviewed Miami SEO Company™ – FREE SEO Consult // WEBRIS

Break down what I’ve done with this title:

  1. Main and secondary keywords are taken care of with “Miami SEO company” and “SEO consult”
  2. Adds in FREE and Reviewed make the title more appealing
  3. Uses both the #1 and TM as special characters to break up eye tracking

Here’s what the final title looks like in the SERPs:

seo page title example

And here’s a screenshot from Ahrefs to show you some of the keyword rankings for these pages. They all deploy the same title strategy I just walk you through…it works.

seo page title ranking results

What about writing titles for home pages?

I like to use a different format.

Brand: Summary of Site / Main Benefit / Main Keyword

Brand name should always come first – but what follows it is up to you.  For WEBRIS, I use the following…

WEBRIS // THE Digital Marketing Agency

Digital Marketing Agency” both embodies what the business does while also using our main keyword.

home page title seo

Let’s move into some examples on a different type of site.

 

Writing titles for ecommerce product pages

I follow the same format – Main Keyword = Secondary Keyword | Brand (except on home pages).

Let’s look at some examples of product pages from Laces Out (an ecommerce site we started and sold last year).

White Shoelaces – “Flat” Body – 54” / 63” / 72” – Laces Out

  • Main keyword = white shoelaces, secondary = flat white laces
  • Using the sizes lends a level of detail that specifically helps the searcher, which helps drive clicks
  • The numbers, ” and / draws the eye and distinguishes the results from other sites

ecommerce product page seo title

 

Baby Blue “Rope” Laces – Woven Pattern Shoelaces – 50” – Laces Out

  • Main keyword = blue rope shoelaces, secondary = patterned laces
  • The secondary keyword here is a bit of a reach from a ranking element, but I believe it adds more details for the searcher to make a decision
  • This product page only had 1 size (50″), so we’ve specified that particular length to keep from misleading customers who might be searching for other sizes
  • Other keywords for these laces were “rope” and “woven,” capitalizing on the fact that these were just basic blue shoelaces—using that creative copy really made a difference in the ranking and the accuracy of what we were presenting to searchers

ecommerce product page seo title 2

 

Black “Jordan 1” Shoelaces – Exact OG Replacements – 72” – Laces Out

  • Main keyword = jordan 1 shoelaces, secondary = jordan replacement laces
  • Keyword research showed us here that people were looking for specific replacements for a particular type of shoe, so we used that to our benefit in our page titles
  • It might be the same SKU and same product as those generic white laces (they come in black, too), but customizing the product page to incorporate the secondary keywords made a big difference in not only clicks but overall sales

product page title for seo in ecommerce

 

Page titles for ecommerce category pages

Category pages are equally important – they offer the ability to rank for “plural” keywords and need to be optimized accordingly.

Shop Wide Variety of “Flat” Sneaker Shoelaces / Laces Out

  • Main keyword = flat shoelaces, secondary = none
  • There aren’t a lot of keyword variations available here, so instead we hedged on using the phrasing that describes exactly what the searcher is looking to do—literally to shop a wide variety of flat shoelaces—this site is meeting a specific need and telling the searcher what to expect on the page.

category ecommerce page title for seo

 

Page title writing for blog content

Let’s look at some examples for page titles for content.

75 of the BEST Nike Air Huarache Colorways – Laces Out

  • Main keyword = best huaraches, secondary = huarache colorways
  • We knew “best” was important in terms of ranking the way we wanted, especially for an informative blog post
  • This term wouldn’t work for a product page or a product category, so a “listicle” type article fit the bill
  • Knowing what our searcher was looking for here (a guide to the best huaraches, not a specific page selling them) was instrumental in creating a page title that turned back some great rankings and clicks

 

21 Crazy [Bad] Fake Air Jordans #WhatAreThose – Laces Out

  • Main keyword = fake jordans, secondary = none
  • The blog post that this title links to also takes advantage of the vast Air Jordan fan audience but also addresses a need—in this case, for entertainment
  • Part of this was getting the research and subculture nailed down—searching the hashtag “WhatAreThose” to curate the content for the page—but using all the symbols helped make the page link more appealing to the searcher

 

Nike Air Huarache Ultra Shoelace Sizes [Exact Length] – Laces Out

  • Main keyword = huarache shoelaces, secondary = none
  • Another excellent example of knowing what your consumer wants and meeting their need—the post was written specifically to fit a keyword search for Nike Air Huarache shoelace sizes
  • Using the word “exact” helped show authority, and the brackets helped break the copy up more creatively

 

Tracking keyword rankings from title changes

While I like to think I know what I’m talking about, it’s vital to measure the impact of the title changes on your own site.

google search console page tracking

There’s a simple way to do measure this in Google Search Console.

  • Login to GSC
  • Navigate to Performance
  • Click on the tab called “Pages”
  • Find the page which you’d like to measure, click on it
  • Click on the “Queries” sub tab

You now have a list of the queries at the page level to gauge the impact of their rankings and CTR over time.

Be sure to build this data into your ongoing SEO reporting to note the impact of your efforts over time.

And while it’s not a foolproof formula, my template here—along with some operative keyword research—goes a long way in getting both the rankings and overall clicks.

 

Wrapping it up

Page titles are one of the last few “quick wins” left in SEO. Managing page titles is often overlooked by SEOs because of the man hours it takes to get them done.

Building a formal process to help you write them at scale is critical – take this post and share it with your team or SEO lead to make sure they’re executing this as a part of your overall SEO strategy.

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Comments

  • John D Saunders Says

    Great content, Ryan!

    I’ve been a BIG proponent of creative titles that add value and change the status quo. Got some really great tips and tricks for this. Thanks for the validation, and always, quality content. Cheers!

  • Luci from Up-SEO Says

    Hey, Ryan, This is the best article about titles I ever read {and I read a lot}. Thank you for putting it together!!!

  • Ian Harmon Says

    Awesome info again Ryan. Can’t wait for the course to drop next week

  • Heba Says

    Thank u Ryan, always loved ur SEO advice, been following ur techniques for 4 years. Self studying was tough, but u made them easy for me.. Thank u!

  • Rahul Yadav Says

    Great topic – I’ve always enjoyed Ryan use of different headlines in different places.

  • Freddy Says

    Hey Ryan, thanks a LOT for this article! What about how to write perfect description?)

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    My Process for Writing PERFECT Page Titles for BIG Rankings
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