SEO Title defined and how to optimise it

This post was last updated on February 18th, 2021

SEO Title Defined - How to Optimise it

What is SEO Title? …  It’s a commonly heard term in SEO circles but what does it actually mean?  This was the question I asked myself when I first started blogging. Also, how is SEO title different to your post title and the Heading1 (H1) title on your webpage? 

Your SEO title is how your your web page or blog post will appear in Google or Bing search results. So it’s the description of your page or post in search results which a person will see before they actually reach your site.  It’s usually designed to hook your reader’s attention and stand out from the crowd of other Google listings.

In this summary we’ll clearly define the term “SEO title”.  Then we’ll also show you the difference to  “page title” and show you how to correctly set the SEO title of your page or post.

Importantly, It should make you stand out from the crowd of other Google listings.  Here’s an example of an SEO title from Google search results shown in Blue:

SEO Title example from SERP

So how does it compare to Post / Page / H1 Title?

In comparison to your SEO title, your Post / Page or H1 title is the title of your webpage once the reader has actually landed on your webpage and the page has loaded.  Your post / page title by default always becomes your Heading1 (H1) title.

Below is how the post title would appear in WordPress:

Add New Post Example

 

and below is the H1 title in the actual post:

Example of Post Title

 

SEO Title will normally default to be the same as your Post Title

If you’ve chosen your post title carefully, you will have picked the keywords that you are trying to rank for and built those keywords into your post title.  So your work should already be done. In WordPress, the SEO by Yoast plugin will use your page title by default. 

 

Post Title Defaults to SEO Title

If you Really Want to Change it

It is possible to change the SEO title by editing the snippet in Yoast as can be seen in the example below:

SEO Title editor from Yoast

 Personally, I’ve never changed it to be different to the page title. If I want to change the SEO title of a post at a later time, perhaps to adjust the keywords, I just change the page title. Then I just let it default to be the same as the page title.

Please remember not to change the permalink or slug of a post once it’s published.  If you do change the permalink or slug, potential visitors will get a 404 error when clicking on your site in Google search results. Should you need to change the permalink or slug of a post, any 404 errors can be corrected through the use of a 301 redirect plugin.  I recommend the free Redirection plugin in WordPress for this.

 

Redirection Plugin may need to be used if changing permalink

When to use a different SEO Title

There may be some instances where want to set your SEO title to be different to your post title.  For example, you may have a post title for a real estate listing that has long technical folio numbers.  So it mightn’t be desirable to have that technical detail in your SEO title for Google search results. Accordingly, in this instance, you should consider changing it to be something more meaningful.

How to Optimise your SEO Title

The aim is to create an SEO title that people want to click on.  It needs to evoke a desire in the reader to find out more so that they actually click through from the SERPs to your website.

Do this by making your SEO title and page title enticing and engaging for your reader.  Leave a question in your reader’s mind which makes them want to click through to your page to find out more.

Here’s a great example of Matthew Woodward did this with his post: Rank Math Review – Why I ditched Yoast for Rankmath:

 

 

Good SEO Title - Why I ditched Yoast for Rankmath

This is such a great SEO Title as it leaves us wanting to find out more!  So it’s inherently clickable.

Include Power Words in your Title

Power words are words that elicit strong emotions and make your post sound exciting to your reader.
 

Marketers know this intuitively, as you can see power words in almost all advertising.

So, if you want your post to stand out from a crowded field, you need to be using power words to make your site jump out at the reader in the search listings.

Some examples of Power Words:
  • “Big”:  Power Word Equivalents:  Gigantic, Huge, Mammoth
  • “Exclusive”: Power Word Equivalents: Little-Known, Hidden, Rare
  • “Great”: Power Word Equivalents: Incredible, Life-Changing, Awe-Inspiring

SEO Title should be Enticing

The main way that we can get people to click on our website in search engine results is to make our SEO title engaging.  

It should invoke a question in the reader’s mind so that they want to find out more on the subject.

News websites have been doing this for years.  They know that people are inherently curious and want to discover the information behind a headline.  

Consider this search result listing:

SEO title should be enticing

After you’ve seen this, you really need to find out what those 21 ways to earn extra income online are!

By increasing the number of clicks that our site is getting in search results, we are improving our clickthrough rate (CTR). 

Google Search Console Chart

This helps to boost our site in search rankings as CTR is a metric used by Google and Bing when ranking our website.  

The above image is from Google Search Console.  It shows a chart of the number of clicks against impressions (the number of times the website appears in search results).  CTR is therefore a function of clicks and impressions.

 

Summary

Choosing your SEO Title carefully will mean that your site can be found by as many people as possible in Google search.  It will lead to you having a greater chance of ranking at a higher level in search results.

If you’ve chosen your post title well, you can just let the SEO title default to be the same as your post title 99% of the time.  There may be some rare occasions where you wish to change it.  You can easily achieve this  through the snippet editor in the Yoast plugin.

I hope you found this article useful.  If you’re interested in creating a blog or website, we’ve created a useful guide on how to start a SEO-optimised website.  You can find the guide at this link.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are power words so good for web page titles?

Power words create strong emotions and prime the reader to take action. They elicit a strong emotion to find out more or to get actionable, usable information. In other words they make the user want to click to find the answer.

How can I improve the number of impressions in Google search?

Improves the quality of your web page or post.  Add images, infographics and videos to your page.

Your intention should be to write a better and more comprehensive post than your competitors who are ranking in the first page of search results.  So study the top ranking posts and make your post better.

How can I improve the number of clicks in Google search? 

Firstly work on improving the number of impressions by improving the quality and length of your web pages.

What are the best phrases to use in your SEO title?

The phrases “What is” and “How to” tend to get the most clicks and rise to the top of search engine rankings.  Why so? Because they fulfill basic human needs for discovery of information.

What are the most clicked SEO Titles?

Titles that invoke a need in the reader to find the answer get the most attention and drive the largest number of clicks.

How can you get your page to stand out from the crowd in search engine results? 

The easiest way is often to be contrarian. Make a statement in your SEO title that goes against the grain of the other SERP listings to spark interest and curiosity.

Can you change your SEO title once a web page is published?

Yes, absolutely you can change the search engine title (SEO title) any time without affecting your rankings. Various WordPress plugins can assist you in this process.

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