15 Title Tag Optimization Guidelines For Usability and SEO

I recently came across an article on the Usability Geek’s blog 15 Title Tag Optimization Guidelines For Usability and SEO that I thought might be of help in working on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for your site.

The <title> tag defines the title of the document and the <title> element is required in all HTML/XHTML documents. It should describe the content of your page in a concise manner.

Screenshot of title tag.

Screenshot of <title> tag

Why is the title tag important?

The text content you place between the <title> </title> tags is important for the following reasons”

  • Web browsers display the information within the tags as the label on the browser tab (newer browsers) or as title of the web page in the browser’s window title (older browsers.)
    Title displayed at top of browser window.

    Title displayed at top of browser window

    Title Tag displayed in tabs of browser.

    Title Tag displayed in tabs of browser

  • Search engines: As the clickable headline for listings on Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs)
    Title tag displayed as search engine results.

    Title tag displayed as clickable link in search engine results.

  • Search engines use the title tag content to determine the topic of the web page. Search Engine spiders analyze the content of the page title and then translate the page topic.
  • Social bookmarking sites and Web browsers: To assign a default value to bookmarked web sites.
  • Your viewers use the content of the title tag to identify the web sites that are likely to contain the information they are searching for within the list of web sites on a SERP.
  • Viewers use the title to locate the tab in their web browser which contains the site they want to view.
  • Viewers use the title to find the web site they have bookmarked in their browser.
  • Viewers use the title info to determine whether a web site that others have bookmarked in a social bookmarking web site is worth checking out.

The Do’s

  1. Place your keywords at the beginning as the search engines give more importance to the first words in the title tag than those used later.
  2. Use keyphrases instead of keywords
  3. Use modifiers like “cheap,” “reviews,” “free,” as many users will use them as part of their search term. Example: free CSS templates.
  4. Use numbers. Example: 10 free CSS templates rather than free CSS templates
  5. Separate your keywords with hyphens (-) or pipes (|) if you are a web designer, then the keyphrase “web-design” will associate you with search queries for “web design” and “webdesign”.
  6. Include Acronyms. Example: DWT for Dynamic Web Template
  7. Each and every page on your site should have a unique page title. The content of your title tags should reflect the content of the PAGE not the SITE!
  8. Best title naming convention for the homepage. Avoid The and Welcome
  9. Best title naming convention for other pages: Start the title with  words or phrases that describe what the page is about then followed by the company name at the end of the title. NOTE: To my way of thinking, this would depend on the site – business or personal.

The Don’ts

  1. Do not make the content in the title tag longer than 69 characters.
  2. Do not place too many keywords. “Keyword stuffing” as it is called can cause the search engines to penalize you.
  3. Do not use stop words such as “by”, “it” and “as”.
  4. Do not use a lot of commas.
  5. Do not use special characters.
  6. Do not overuse synonyms.

Remember, a optimized title tag is just ONE part of the entire search engine optimization process. Visit Usability Geek to read 15 Title Tag Optimization Guidelines For Usability and SEO in its entirety.


  1. I didn’t realize that title tags have a character limit (69 characters). Is that the “reasonable” number of characters or is that how long a tab can display the title?

  2. I did a Google search on title tag limit and most agree 70 is the maximum number of characters that will actually show on the results. While you can certainly make your title longer, just be aware that the most important part of the tag should come first.

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