[Updated] How to Write a Title That Gets Clicks

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

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 this 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 would rather not watch the video below, 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

8 replies
  1. Kevin Carlton says:

    Put together a great set of title tags, meta descriptions and, as Heather’s LinkedIn group has discussed before, have your Google rich snippets showing (for all your pages not just the blog posts) then, yep, you’re well on the way to nailing those click-throughs.

  2. Kurt Frankenberg says:

    According to your guidelines, most of my titles are WAAAY too long. But since we write for robots AND humans, it does make sense to stick to what works for both. More is not necessarily better. After all, “How to Write a Title That Gets Clicks” is only 37 characters with spaces… and it earned MY click. I just saw it in Konrad Sanders’ tweets and the fact that I respect him helped a little… but in all it was those 37 characters that separated YOUR title from all the other gobbledegook in my feed.

    I learned a lot to improve both SEO and copywriting not only from this article… but by how I got here in the first place. Masterful, Heather. Thank you.

    Keep Stepping,


    • Heather Lloyd-Martin says:

      Hey, Kurt!

      Thanks so much for your note! Playing with your Titles can be quite illuminating. It’s amazing how making a few tweaks can make a HUGE difference in positions and conversions.

      Have fun (yes, this stuff really is fun!) :)


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