In this blog post we’re going to help you understand how to include keywords within your page titles for the best possible SEO benefit. This is something our customers ask us a lot at Hike, so what better than to record a video and write a blog to answer the question.
There are a few different but important factors you need to think about when creating page titles for your website, which we’re going to run through and explain for you here.
Hopefully, this will be a guide that you can use to go away and implement straight away across all of your page titles.
First, a Caveat
There’s no exact right and wrong way of creating page titles for SEO! Page titles are an important ranking factor, but they are not the ‘be-all-and-end-all’ ranking factor; websites with poorly optimised titles can still perform well in Google if they outperform you in other SEO areas (eg. backlinks, on-page content, technical details, etc.)
However, page titles are an important lever you can pull for your SEO and, with this in mind, the advice provided in this post is to help you optimise them to the highest standard you possibly can.
Just as a side note for a national campaign, we’re using ‘SEO Software’ as our main keyword, and for the local campaign we’re using ‘Plumber London’.
1. Where to Add Your Main Keywords?
The first part we want to get you to focus on is making sure that the keyword you mainly want to focus on is as far forward as it can be within your title tag.
For example, for your national keyword, you can do ‘SEO Software For Agencies’ or ‘SEO Software For Small Businesses’.
Then for the local example, you could use ‘Plumber London’ if it sounds correct. But you could also use ‘Plumbers in London’ or ‘Plumbers London’ as well. You can work on some variations.
With all of these, do a quick search in Google to see what some of the first pages are using in their titles. This will help you to see what variations they use and what Google picks up in the different variations of the keywords that are used.
2. Secondary Keywords and Synonyms
You can include secondary keywords and synonyms into your title, as well. Secondary keywords will help you rank for other closely related phrases in Google.
Including a synonym reinforces to Google that you’re optimizing for that primary phrase. We don’t recommend anything more than two keywords per page to be optimized. Once you start using three keywords, four keywords, it can start to look spammy and over-optimised.
For example, a page title could look something like this: ‘SEO Software – DIY SEO’. A nice way to divide between primary keywords and secondary keywords, or primary and synonym keywords, is to use something simple like a dash. It doesn’t have to be a great work of art or a Shakespeare sentence. Something simple like this is absolutely fine for SEO.
Think about the searcher in Google; they are just looking for a result that mentions the keyword that they searched. That’s all they’re doing! They’re scanning through and trying to find a result that references the keyword they searched.
3. Add Your Brand Name
As well as the keywords that you need to add into your page title, we also strongly recommend that you add your brand name as well.
There are two ways that you can add your brand name. On your homepage we recommend to start your page title with your brand name, and then your keywords follow after a hyphen (or you can use a pipe). Whether deciding to use a hyphen or use a pipe doesn’t really matter; it’s just the means of dividing up the title tag into it’s two distinct parts.
Internal pages, i.e. anything but your homepage, should include your brand name at the end of the title. The reason is that Google would rather you place it at the end. If you don’t, it will likely add your brand name to the end anyway!
Another reason is due to character limits. The title tag should be within a certain number of characters. If they are too long then they get cut off in the Google results and the additional content will never be seen!
Therefore, If you’ve got your brand name at the end but your keywords at the beginning, you’re not losing as much SEO value if your brand name is cut off. Ideally, you want to make sure that your keywords are prioritised.
From Hike’s point of view, if there are actions saying your titles are too long, but actually what’s making then too long is the brand name, then don’t worry about it too much – just hide that action. What’s most important is that your primary and your secondary keywords are within that character limit.
4. Does The Keyword Need to be Referenced as an Exact Match?
We’ve had some customers say “I’ve got each of the individual words from my keyword I target separately. Is that not enough?”. Unfortunately, no. If we are looking at the national keyword, a bad example would be ‘Looking For Software in The SEO Space’.
You’re not giving a strong and clear enough signal to Google that your page is about ‘SEO Software’. What you want to go for, is to get your keywords at the beginning of the title and add them as an exact match as possible.
5. What Keyword To Use On a Homepage & Internal Pages?
Your homepage title tag should be treated quite differently to the internal pages. You really want your homepage to almost describe what your company does as a whole.
For example, ‘Plumber London’, describes your company as a whole. You are a plumber and you offer plumbing services. However, internal pages you can then optimize for things like central heating, boiler repairs, that sort of stuff.
Also, don’t target the same keyword on your homepage and internal pages. Because Google will potentially fight over which one to show, as it doesn’t know which page is meant to be ranking. You might think that’s a good thing, that Google’s has more than one page to choose from. But actually it tends to have a negative impact and your keywords will dropdown in rankings. Don’t cannibalize, and really use an umbrella term that encompasses everything that your company does on your homepage.