Web page titles can make or break the success of a specific page.
Yet, we see so many web page title mistakes as we’re going through the search results.
If we want our content to rank well and get discovered by visitors, not giving our best efforts to optimize page titles is out of the question.
In this post, we’ll be talking about the most common web page title mistakes and tell you how to make them right.
What Are Web Page Titles or Title Tags?
Title tags are the names or titles of web pages. In technical terms, they’re HTML elements that specify a page title.
We see them appear the second we start a search on Google.
To the user, they’re simple titles of web pages.
On a code level, they look like this:
<title>Best laptop 2021: example we laid out</title>
As you can notice, they’re vital for many reasons. Without further ado, let’s see why.
Why Are Title Tags Important?
For both the user and the SEO, title tags play a significant role in how a page will perform.
When users have a problem, they search for a solution (usually on Google).
A clear, descriptive title tag gives users a reason to click on that page in particular instead of a different one. If the title tag matches the user’s intent, it inclines them to click on the link and engage with the website.
Both people and bots read your title tags, making them one of the key ranking factors. Google reads page elements and can determine whether your page is relevant enough to be positioned on top of their search results based on your title tag.
We know that being the first of search results is essential if you want more organic traffic. The position your page holds rests entirely on how optimized it is for search engines.
Therefore, optimizing title tags is one of the best SEO practices for both beginners and experienced marketers.
Still, many people still don’t do it right.
14 Title Tag Mistakes to Avoid For Better SEO Results
We’ll go over the common mistakes with web page titles so you can recognize and avoid them, and improve your website rankings.
Look at this list closely and see if you’ve unknowingly made some of these mistakes.
Not Creating Any Page Titles
Believe it or not, there are still many pages around without page titles.
It makes no sense to us, but many web admins neglect to write page titles for some of their pages.
This move is just plain silly because you need title tags to be found and to rank. If you want users to discover a page organically, especially a content page or a landing page, you need to have a title tag.
To add a title for the whole website, log into your dashboard and type it in the Title box. If you’re using WordPress, there’s no way you can miss it:
Click to Settings > General, then go to the Site Title box, enter a title, and save the changes.
Here’s how that looks:
Make sure you’ve done so for every page you publish, and you’re good to go.
Having Duplicate Title Tags
Duplicate title tags are damaging to the SEO performance of your pages and should be removed and replaced with unique ones.
You want every one of your pages to have a different title tag. It might be harder for content-rich websites, but try to avoid titles that are the same as your website name. At least, change the beginning of each page title to avoid duplication.
You can check whether you have duplicate title tags in our tool. Here’s how it looks like:
Our tool found 9 duplicate titles for one website. You are, of course, able to see which pages have duplicity, so you can update them.
Duplicate title tags don’t hurt just your SEO. Even if both duplicate pages appear in the search results, the user will have no clue which one they should pick.
If they chose the wrong one, they’d leave right away causing high bounce rates, regardless if they go back to try the second link.
Consequently, the UX of your website will suffer because of that, which means your SEO will suffer too in the end.
Getting Page Titles Truncated on Search Engines
Too long page titles cause Google to trim them in the search results. You’re correct if you think this makes things difficult for users in the search results.
This is what we’re talking about:
You see, Google has room for 600 pixels (around 60 characters) in the title tag, so if your page titles are lengthy, they’ll get cut off.
Do you think somebody is going to search for a phrase this long?
Make sure your title tags fit the character and pixel length before hitting publish, or else you risk having truncated titles that will plummet your click-through rates.
There are also lots of free tools out there where you can type your page’s URL or a title and see how it’s going to appear in the search results.
These tools are great for prevention and testing how the new pages would look on search results.
On the other hand, if you would like to audit your website and check already published pages for long titles, use our tool. It will tell you what needs fixing.
Now, let’s talk about the opposite end of the stick, and that is writing titles too short.
Writing Very Short Titles
You don’t get SEO points for keeping your titles as short as possible.
Short page titles limit the potential of your pages to rank for several keywords. If you have 60 characters, why would you bother writing a page title with only 10?
When you write short titles, your page title has to compete with all those businesses that want to rank in it as well, and many of them have bigger marketing budgets.
Successful websites use long-tail keywords as titles to get ranked on the first page of the search results, especially when the topic is competitive.
That way, they can reach the first page without spending too much and gain visitors that are more likely to engage (and convert).
Long-tail keywords use modifiers, such as how to, why, best, affordable, to create titles that get traction.
And it works beautifully.
When you write very short titles, you’re not just ignoring the power of long-tail keywords and harming the potential of your SEO outlook, but also ruining the user experience.
Page titles should be clear, descriptive, so the searcher can tell what the page is all about.
Going Overboard with Optimization
Marketers and SEO professionals sometimes forget that they’re writing page titles for people instead of search engines.
We often see the mistake of stuffing multiple keywords on page titles.
If you think that will land you a better position in the search results, you are dead wrong. Nobody searches for three separate keywords in a single search query.
Visitors see the title and evaluate how it matches their search intent.
Two or five keywords, it makes no difference to them, as long as the page title sounds exactly what they’re looking for.
The trick is to focus on the main keyword for your page title and enrich it with modifiers so that the page looks user-centered but can still rank strongly.
Now it’s time we address another issue: writing boring page titles.
Having Boring Page Titles
Trust us on this one; searchers keep clear of boring page titles.
Can you blame them?
It’s because when page titles are written in a boring, generic way, visitors assume the page is just a mirror image of another page or blog post with very little difference.
Worse yet, instead of mobilizing the visitors, boring page titles drive them away.
The only way to make your page titles click-worthy is to turn from a generic, passive tone towards something actionable and engaging.
Your page titles should have some character.
Use action words. For example, try these phrases:
Instead of titles like Best SEO Practices, try Kickstart Your SEO with These Best Practices.
Neil Patel’s title tag below is an actionable example:
Having words that express concrete action engages the reader and encourages them to click on the link. Action words let the reader know what content they can expect and what they get out of it.
Cannibalizing Keywords in Title Tags
Cannibalizing keywords in title tags is harmful to the SEO performance of your pages, and this is how it happens.
When your site has too many identical keywords spread out through multiple pages (for example, different blog posts with too similar title tags), Google can’t decide how to rank the content, and their ranking potential becomes split.
Technically (and metaphorically) speaking, your title tags cannibalize each other.
This harms your content’s SEO.
Fixing this problem is straightforward, but it’s time-consuming, especially if you already have loads of content on your website.
Start by identifying content pages with identical or similar title tags. Once you’ve rounded them up, roll up your sleeves and start changing title tags.
If you notice you can’t change the title tag without changing the whole post’s point, merge different content pieces. Pick the content that performs better, import the content from the post you’re going to scrap, and leave only one content piece with the same title tag.
Also, change your internal links. You can’t have two posts with identical title tags interlinking to each other.
Not Optimizing Title Tags for Local Search
There’s a distinction between local-driven and global businesses.
It’s not uncommon to see businesses optimizing page titles for global searches instead of local, even if they rely solely on local customers.
It makes zero sense to skip optimizing your title tags for local search if you are doing business only in one small area.
Businesses do title tag optimization to get users to engage with their websites. If you are looking for local users, then you should optimize your titles for local searches.
This advice doubles down for small businesses. We’re talking about restaurants, bars, physical stores, and virtually any business that wants to win local or regional customers.
The way to fix it is to change the course of your SEO. Stop targeting global keywords and optimize your title tags for local search traffic.
It’s a simple fix that means a lot.
Putting the Company or Site Name in All Titles
Too many business websites have the urge to put their company name in the title of every page.
This isn’t good for two reasons:
First, it’s redundant.
Visitors see your company’s name in the search results just by looking at your domain, so there’s no point in repeating the same thing over again with every title. The UX of your page titles doesn’t need that.
Second, it takes away your character space.
You have only about 60 characters for a page title, so wasting it on a company name is plain silly.
It makes sense to put your company name on your homepage, about page, content page, etc., because the user is looking for company-specific things.
But leave it out of your content pages.
Use it only if your titles are too short, then you can fill the space with your site’s title.
Another exception to this rule is if you’re an established brand, so this can add further value and credibility to your title.
Neil Patel is a household name in digital marketing so that he can allow it. Unless you’re of his caliber, we’d recommend you keep clear of this page title practice.
Using Abbreviations the Wrong Way
When it comes to page titles, using abbreviations is a poor SEO practice.
It’s because search engines don’t recognize the meaning of abbreviations.
For instance, if you use ATM to say at the moment, search engines will think you’re talking about money machines.
That being said, there are exceptions to this rule. When an abbreviation is so frequently used and commonly accepted, the abbreviation itself becomes a replacement for the original phrase.
For instance, every search engine knows that the USA means United States of America.
You’d be silly to write the whole phrase instead of the abbreviation.
To get your abbreviations right, you need to weigh the psychological factor and understand which abbreviations are commonly used.
Those would include words like ASAP or DIY.
To make sure if an abbreviation is correct to use, do keyword research and see how abbreviations are ranked and what content ranks for those phrases.
Using Stop or Fluff Words That Don’t Add Any Value
If the page title is such a critical part of its search engine discovery, why stock them with fluff words?
When you use fluff words or stop words, you’re not adding any value to the page title.
Worse yet, you’re making their reading experience difficult. They can’t read the title in one slash, but they read the first half, pause, and then read the second half.
Stop word examples include: but, the, be, is, by, etc.
Do you think anyone googles those words?
Using fluff or stop words also takes up the space your primary keywords need. You’re cutting down both the page title UX and the power of keywords in titles.
To fix this error, check back on all your titles and rephrase them so that the titles tell the user what the content is about and provide them with a seamless reading UX.
Your page titles need to have value.
Lack thereof is the next thing we have to talk about.
Not Adding Any Value for the User
The core principle of content on the internet is that it has value for users to engage with it.
This fully extends to page titles.
As we said, page titles contain information about the content and display the value the user gets out of clicking on the link in the search bar.
It’s about answering the question: what’s in it for me?
The answer isn’t just the name or theme of the page; the answer is a tangible value. After all, if a user’s search results list out similar page titles, whichever shows more value will be the winner. That’s a guarantee.
If you want to win in the value game, start thinking about how you’re going to add it to your page titles.
Let’s look at two examples:
- Best business practices
- Best practices to grow your business after the pandemic.
Can you guess which one of those page titles adds value for the user?
The second one.
It’s because it explicitly tells visitors that they can get insights about growing or recovering their business from a global challenge that pained many companies by reading this article.
Not Putting the Target Keyword at the Beginning
The target keyword is one of the major reasons your page got ranked.
If you don’t place at the beginning, you’re going to cut down the UX of your page titles.
This means, when users type a phrase in the search bar and see your link, they’ll be scratching their head at first because the keyword will be way on the other side of their title.
Imagine you type: best pizzas in Chicago. If you saw a page title with best grill, burgers, fries, and pizza in Chicago you’d be confused too.
You wouldn’t rank either. The top-performing pages are well optimized.
Don’t make the page title mistake of leaving your target keyword in the back or way past the middle.
Unless it’s grammatically incorrect to put it at the beginning of the sentence, or you’re using modifiers, place your target keyword at the beginning.
The second best option is to put it near-beginning.
Now comes the final common mistake with page titles, and it’s a big one.
Not Matching the Title Tag to the Rest of the Page
The title tag isn’t a standalone part of the page; it’s the head of a larger whole. Forgetting that is a significant mistake.
Search results links contain title tags and meta descriptions that describe the entire content on a page.
When the title tag doesn’t match the rest of the page, it is inconsistent at best. Most times, when title tags don’t match with the content, they are deceitful to the visitors.
When users are deceived, bounce rates increase dramatically.
It’s something you must avoid at all costs because Google punishes misleading page titles with dropped rankings, making this a hurtful SEO practice.
To correct this mistake, do a checkup on all your content and make sure your page titles are consistent with the meta descriptions and content.
You want your title tags to honestly represent your content.
Are you guilty of any web page title mistakes? If you are, that’s nothing to be ashamed of, as long as you make the effort to fix those mistakes.
Trust us; your visitors will love you for it and your search engine results will soar.