Securing one of the top spots on search engine results pages (SERPs) is crucial for your business.
According to Advanced Web Rankings, 67 percent of all clicks on SERPs go to the top five listings. And 95 percent of web traffic comes from the first results page, leaving only 5 percent for the remaining pages.
It’s an indubitable fact: The higher your website ranks, the more organic traffic it gains. And the higher the traffic, the higher the chances of generating quality leads and conversions.
Through search engine optimization (SEO), businesses can position their websites on top of search results to get the most views and traffic. This is accomplished through various means, including link building, keyword research and meta tags, which are the HTML codes behind your web pages. Meta tags allow Google to understand additional information about your web pages. It uses this data for ranking purposes and to display your page’s title and snippet in search results.
Let’s explore how Google’s new update on meta tags could affect your rankings and how to stay on top of SERPs:
The Google Update That Shook SEO Marketers
On August 25, 2021, Google released an update that altered its algorithm for generating website titles and descriptions of web pages on SERPs. In the past, website owners had sole control over what appeared in the Google page titles by adding meta tags in the HTML of their pages. However, this update gives Google a choice to ignore title HTML tags if they do not accurately reflect the page’s content. Instead, Google will analyze the headers and content within the page to create a revised title for the search results.
Numerous websites were negatively affected by this and experienced a decline in their click-through rates (CTR), resulting in a significant reduction in organic traffic. WordStream claimed in a case study that its CTR dropped by up to 37 percent following the update where Google modified the title of one of its long-standing top pages, ignoring the website title tags that have been in place for several years.
But why did Google change the way titles are rendered?
This Google title update was due to their systems determining that title HTML tags are often not used the way they should be. Google title tags are supposed to describe a page, but most fail to do so.
“Some pages have empty titles. Some use the same titles on every page regardless of the page’s actual content. Some pages have no title elements at all,” Google explained in a statement. However, Google’s Search Advocate John Mueller clarified that the rewrites on title links did not affect search rankings, but this didn’t mean that businesses should stop improving their Google page titles.
If your website experienced HTML title tags adjustments, it’s time to rethink your strategies for SEO. There are services to help you navigate this update and upgrade your SEO title tag optimization strategies.
You should optimize your meta tags to improve your rankings on Google SERPs and maintain your position in spite of algorithm updates. To achieve this, focus on quality in all areas of SEO, including meta tags, to have more control over your presence on Google SERPs.
The Introduction of Title Link
Another notable change that this Google title update brought was introducing the term “title link.” Google Search Central’s Advanced SEO guide defines title links as the title of a search result on Google Search that links to the web page.
Image Source: Google Search Central
Google made this change to distinguish the term from “title tag,” which refers to the page’s HTML title element.
But what is a title tag, and how do you implement title tag SEO optimization strategies with the recent update in mind?
Read on, and we will teach you how to write title tags and meta descriptions using the best practices following the recent Google update.
What Is a Title Tag?
A title tag is an HTML element that allows you to give a web page a title. Title tags help generate the title links, or what the users first see in the search results.
Title links provide users with a quick insight into the content of the search result. People use these links as their primary sources of information and decide if they should click through or keep scrolling. For this reason, assigning the proper title tags is critical for increasing CTRs.
Take control of your Google SERPs presence by following the best practices for writing website title tags:
• Every page needs its unique title: All of your website pages should have unique title HTML tags to help the search engine determine which webpage is relevant to the search query. Avoid repeated texts in your Google page titles because this makes it impossible for search engines to distinguish your web pages from each other.
• Be descriptive and concise: Website title tags should be between 50 and 60 characters in length. Verbose text in your title elements will get truncated when it shows up as title links. For this reason, only use clear descriptions when writing an SEO title tag.
• Brand your titles: Insert your brand name in the HTML title tags when appropriate. A great place to start is your site’s homepage to include additional information about your offerings.
• Avoid keyword stuffing: Google title tags can significantly improve your SEO when you add the right keywords to them. But keep in mind to never overdo it. Google can recognize keyword stuffing instantly and may alter the title links of your web page if it determines that you’re just adding different variations of a keyword into tags.
If you need help creating Google title tags, hiring a digital marketing agency with web design and SEO content services is an option. These professionals provide solutions to improve your site’s WordPress title tags (if you’re using WordPress) and optimize them for the Google title update so your site can continue to generate high-quality leads.
Common Issues To Avoid When Writing Title Tags
The generation of title links on the search results is an automated process that considers the page’s content and title HTML tags. So any issues regarding modified title links are due to human oversight during the creation of title tags and meta descriptions.
These are the most common mistakes you need to avoid when making WordPress title tags:
• Half-empty HTML title tags: Part of the title text is missing.
• Obsolete titles: The same page is used yearly, but the HTML elements don’t get updated.
• Inaccurate titles: The HTML title elements don’t accurately reflect what the page is about.
• Repeated boilerplate text in titles: There are repeated boilerplate texts in the title elements.
What Is a Snippet?
A snippet is the description of a search result on Google and serves as the preview of the page content. Google uses several methods to generate the appropriate snippet that best relates to a user’s specific search. The descriptive information in the meta description and the page’s content help Google produce these descriptions.
Image Source: Google Search Central
According to Google, there is no limit on how long a meta description should be, but snippets are truncated to 155–160 characters in Google Search results.
Solidify your top position in Google SERPs by following the best practices in writing meta descriptions:
• Every page needs its description: Create descriptions that accurately describe your web pages and make sure they are unique. Like with the title tags, this will help Google determine the most relevant to the query.
• Include relevant information: The snippet doesn’t have to be in sentence format. For example, Google suggests that news and blog postings can list the author, publication date and byline information since these are very relevant information that might not be displayed in the snippet otherwise. Adding the price, age and the manufacturer is recommended for product pages since essential details are often scattered throughout the page, making it hard for Google to pick them up.
• Generate descriptions: For large, database-driven sites, generating snippets using a program is encouraged. Writing meta descriptions for these large websites is a monumental task and is nearly impossible. Keep in mind that programmatic generation can produce hard-to-read and repetitive snippets. For this reason, you still have to make sure the descriptions produced are human-readable and diverse.
• Use quality descriptions: High-quality descriptions will boost your place on the SERPs, and Google recommends not to use keywords in them. Long strings of keywords don’t give users a clear idea of the page’s content and are less likely to be displayed in place of a regular meta description.
Ensure that your website generates the appropriate title links and snippets by partnering with SEO experts who know how to write title tags that work with the recent Google update. They will craft effective WordPress title tags using the industry’s best methods, so your website stays present on the first page of Google SERPs and won’t miss out on valuable leads.
Stay Visible and Clickable on the SERPs
Whether or not your website is affected by Google’s modifications, optimizing your HTML elements is essential to ensure that your SEO title tag strategies remain effective.
Take control of your presence on Google SERPS by following the best practices for writing title tags and meta descriptions. This ensures that your website gets more views and traffic and boosts lead generation and conversions.
If you’re unsure how to implement new title tag SEO optimization strategies, the digital marketing experts at Thrive Agency are ready to help. We offer SEO content services to help your company grow its presence on the SERPs and maintain its position amidst algorithm updates.