The benefits of having an awesome title for your page is obvious – great titles can result in higher click through rates to your website, while a poorly written title will do the opposite.

Despite the fact that Google has been tweaking titles for ages, Matt Cutts recently released a video explaining why Google does this. Not a lot of webmasters know that Google doesn’t just show the title tag that’s written for that page. “Whenever we try to choose the title or decide which title to show in the search results, we are looking for a concise description of the page that’s also relevant to the query,” Cutts explains.

When it comes to title tags, Google looks for three things:

  1. Something relatively short
  2. A good description of the page and ideally, the site that the page is on
  3. Something that’s relevant to the user’s query

Matt goes on to explain that if the title matches the three criteria above, then \often times, Google will default to the provided title tag. However if the title doesn’t match the criteria, as best as Google can tell, then the user will most likely not click on your link because it doesn’t match the query that he or she typed in. This is when Google actually helps you out and “digs a little deeper.”

“We might use content on your page,” he says. “We might look at the links that point to your page and incorporate  some text from those links. We might even use the Open Directory Project to try to help figure out what a good title would be… We’re looking for the best title that can help the use assess whether that’s what they’re looking for.”

The best solution for better control of what title is being shown for your web pages is to tailor your title to those keywords you feel your searcher is going to type into the search bar.

Title Tag Best Practices:

  • Length: Title tags should be approx. 55 characters long, including spaces
  • Keywords: The most important keywords should be closer to the front of the title
  • Wording: Short, simple, and to the point
  • Don’t duplicate title tags: They should be different for every page
  • Make it relevant: Title tags should always reflect your content