How to Write Optimized SEO Titles: 3 Tips

Greetings! Today’s SEO copywriting tip addresses a question posed in the SEO Copywriting Certification graduate group forum:

“In my experience, pipes have been added to define SEO keywords in the search engine results…can you explain what is the preferred way of writing general SEO Titles – with or without pipes? What produces the best results in terms of consumer search behavior?”

An excellent question! Beginning with an explanation of “pipes,” Heather discusses how to capture clicks with unique, optimized webpage Titles:

First, what are “pipes’?

Pipes refer to those vertical lines used in webpage Titles (in lieu of commas or hyphens) to distinguish words and phrases – which yes, tend to be keywords and keyphrases.

For instance, in the first screenshot (showing the search results page listing for a Portland pilates business) the structure of the site’s home page Title is clearly visible: keyword | keyword | keyphrase | location keyphrase | company name.

Sometimes, as demonstrated in the second screen, pipes are generated automatically in a page Title due to the website’s template. (This is often the case with WordPress blogs.) So you see a descriptive page Title | company name.

So, what would get your click?

Comparing the two Titles, which one would you click? The pipe-separated string of keywords, or the customized Title that also has keywords worked into the copy?

Both are technically “right,” but the top example represents a more “old school” approach to Title optimization. It isn’t “wrong,” and it won’t get you banned in Google, but you’re leaving a lot of opportunity on the table.

The second Title is much more powerful. It still is optimized, with the main keyphrases included, but it’s a far more “clickable” Title.

Three Title creation tips

When crafting a webpage Title, keep these tips in mind:

1. The search engine results page is your first opportunity for conversion. Enticing Titles help “get the click.”

2. Watch your character count – make your Title stand out in 60ish characters (including spaces).

3. Always make your Titles unique for the page. Don’t forget to include your main page keyphrases, synonyms or related words. Always.


5 replies
  1. Brian Mathers says:

    So glad you have picked up on this topical question and provided everyone with a best practice guideline answer.

    I suppose one other point that some will argue is where then to place that vital keyword term/keyword phrase in the title tag? As some old school veterans will suggest having these as the first words in the title tag as it has been said placing them further away from the start dilutes the power of the page from ranking better.

    In my own opinion I think as long as your keyword phrase or term is within those 60ish characters you refer to and the title reads well and gives a great indication to the searcher what the topic of the page is about, this should achieve visitor conversion and get people onto that page from the SERPS.

    Would appreciate your view on that and thanks again for another great relevant post.

    • Heather says:


      Ah yes. For years, SEO experts have been arguing about where to put the primary keyphrase in the Title. :) It’s great when you can put it in the first few words – especially if you’re dealing with a highly competitive term. At the same time, if that means that your Title is going to sound clunky – and it’s not going to “pop” off the SERP – I’d place it somewhere within those 60ish characters instead.


  2. Aaron says:

    But also, the meta description doesn’t have any effect on serps. But the goal is to write your content with the reader in mind. It’s a balance between creating good content and making sure you jump through a few hoops along the way. But the customer is always the biggest focal point.

    Meta descriptions will help your customers determine if they actually want to click your link. So you might rank well in SERPS because of your backlinks and title tagging, but if your meta description isn’t what a customer is looking for, then you’ll get skipped when it really counts.

    Thanks for the informative article.


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