I feel a rant coming on.
Recently, I stumbled across an old “how to write Titles” post. In it, the author discussed how her preferred method of Title creation was to separate the keywords with pipes.
So, a Title would read like:
keyword | here’s another keyword | yet another keyword
Before I start my rant, I need to get a few things out of the way first:
- The article I mentioned is from 2012. Although it’s still a very popular article, it’s an older resource.
- I have the utmost respect for the author. My rant is not directed at her.
- Her advice was not technically wrong. In fact, the author did admit that there are many ways to craft a Title.
And now begins my rant:
My call to action is – can we please let pipes die? Please?
Instead, write the title like a headline and make it more “clickable” instead.
Titles are extremely important to your SEO campaign. There are two reasons for this:
- Titles help with a page’s SEO. So, a strong Title can help a page position.
- The search engine results page (SERP) is your first opportunity for conversion. A strong Title can help get the click from the SERP to your site. However, a so-so Title may not wow your reader.
To me, using pipes is an old-school method that doesn’t leverage any conversion opportunities. Sure, the keyphrases are in there. Sure, Google can tell what the page is about. But the Titles aren’t written for the users. They don’t scream “click me” from the search engine results page. They’re “SEO’d” – but that’s it.
In my opinion, pipes makes your Title blend into the background. After all, who wants their Title to blend in when it can stand out instead?
Want to see what I mean?
I discussed Titles during a 2012 video post. In it, I compare two SERP listings – one written like a benefit statement and one written with pipes. Judge for yourself which version is the more compelling. And let me know if my rant is justified.
For those of you who don’t like watching videos, here’s a transcript summary. Enjoy!
Don’t ignore your Titles. Embrace them!
- The search engine results page is your first opportunity for conversion.
- Think of Titles like headlines – write them to get the click.
- Include your main page keyphrases.
- Keep the character count to around 59 characters (with spaces).
A lot of people look at page Titles as “the place that we stick our keyphrases so Google knows what the page is about.” But Titles are much more than that – they are actually your first conversion opportunity off the search engine results page.
So it’s essential to create a clickable Title – one that people will read and think “That site has exactly what I need” and will select your listing over the others.
Given that your page Title is competing for the first conversion – that first click – off the search engine results page, you want to write it as you would a headline. You want to make it compelling and yes, you’ll want to include your main keyphrases for that page in the Title.
You also want to keep the page Title to around 59 characters, with spaces. After crafting such a masterful Title, you certainly don’t want any yummy parts of it to be truncated out (with “…”).
As an example of missed opportunities in page Title creation, here are screenshots of two Titles. The first example is representative of what you see a lot of today, where the Title has a keyphrase | keyphrase | construction. Is it incorrect? No, it’s okay – but not as persuasive as the second page Title shown below it.
Action step: Review your Titles
For your action step, take a peek at your own site and see if its page Titles present an opportunity for you to improve click-through.
To review your Titles, type this command into the Google search box: site:your domain. Google will return a list of all the pages it has indexed, and you can readily review your Titles.
If you see any Titles like the one pictured, you may have an opportunity to not only write a more persuasive, clickable Title, but also to go back to the page content and see if there are other things you can do to tweak the Title and make it better for readers.
Updated note – you can also check out your Titles during a content audit. Here’s more information on how to make it happen. Have fun!
Photo thanks to Andy Hay