5 Tips for Writing Effective Meta Titles

January 28, 2010

Next time you are using Google to search, look to see how many listings appear on the page. If you pay closer attention you might notice how each listing is competing for your attention. It’s like survival of the fittest. The best title will win you over; and all others will wither away unnoticed. Because of this it is important to note that Meta Titles need to be compelling and grab the attention of the searcher. Here are five tips to help write effective Meta Titles.

We love Wisconsin cheese!When searching for Wisconsin Cheese there are over two million listings.

1. Sometimes it’s best not to have your business name in front…

Let me stress the word sometimes; in certain situations placing your company’s name at the front is appropriate. I would think your homepage would be a great place to let your business name shine. That’s called branding! Under other circumstances it is not. Think about the times that you have searched and the Meta Title’s weren’t helpful. Then think, is your company’s name relevant to the article? Is branding more important than the rank for this page? It’s your choice. Make the call.

A Meta Title with the business name in front.A Meta Title with the business name in front.
A listing without including the business name.This example is focusing the attention on the article, not the business name.

2. Do your best to limit the titles to 63 characters.

When writing Meta Titles consider that there is only room for about 63 characters. It is usually less because Google will stop it at the last word. With only so many characters, you will find it challenging to write a good Meta Title. Don’t worry too much as it should get easier after a while.

With limited space available there is only room for about 63 characters.With limited space available there is room for about 63 characters.

3. Keywords are good; Keyword stuffing is bad

For those of you that do not know, keywords are just words. Anything that you type into Google can be a keyword or keyword phrase. People search using keywords so it’s good practice to include them in the Meta Title. A caveat; don’t try to put all kinds of keywords into one Meta Title. This is known as keyword stuffing and it will not help your ranking. Most likely, it will make your Meta Title look cheesy.

Keywords are good.An example of using keywords effectively.
Keyword stuffing is bad.An example of keyword stuffing.

4. Reflect the content that is on the page…

Keep it simple; just be honest. Search engines are out to help searchers. You want searchers to be happy with your listing and come back to click on it more often. Need an example? Let’s say one of your pages raves about the imported Rosenborg Danish Blue Cheese. Your Meta Title happens to be ‘Rosenborg Danish Blue Cheese | Wisconsin Cheese’. If someone is searching for Wisconsin cheese and run into Danish cheese they might rear their CheeseHead in revolt! Then again, people looking for Danish Cheese might get confused; is the cheese from Wisconsin or Denmark? The title is misleading. Stay honest, reflect the content on the page and all will be well.

Example of irrelevant keywords in the title.Do your best not to confuse searchers. Keep the title consistant with the content on the page.

5. Now that you have a better understanding let’s try a couple examples.

In this example the searcher is looking for ‘irrigation boots’. Let’s see where it started and what we can do to make improvements.

Searching for irrigation boots within Google.Searching for irrigation boots within Google.
The original Meta Title we are going to use for our demonstration.The original Meta Title we are going to use for our demonstration.
Here we made an improvement over the original Meta Title.Here we made an improvement over the original Meta Title.
A Meta Title that grabs attention and provides a call-to-action is ideal.A Meta Title that grabs attention and provides a call-to-action is ideal.
Another example of an exciting Meta Title.Here is another example of a title that will relate to searchers while grabbing their attention.


As you’re working on perfecting your Meta Titles consider if branding is most important. Then focus on captivating searchers by writing interesting titles so they click on your listing. Keywords are acceptable but a catchy phrase is more appealing than cheesiness. Keep it clean and weigh your time versus spending your life trying to get to Meta Title nirvana.