Writing SEO Titles that Encourage Clicks

If you’ve been working in the SEO field for any length of time, you’re likely familiar with the standard Title template:

Primary Keyword | Secondary Keyword | Tertiary Keywords | Brand Name

The idea that it’s good SEO to have all your keywords in your Title Element, while a proven method, has begun to lose it’s luster over the last few years.  While it allows a Title element to cover all bases and may help admittedly with ranking signals, more and more Google is paying attention to engagement and user-intent than ever before.

This also ignores the increase in search prowess for the typical user who has begun to attribute certain mental models to what they encounter in search results.  Take for instance these two examples of a Title element:

  • Affordable Desks | Cheap Desks | Budget Desks – Desks-For-Less
  • Quality affordable desks that fit any budget | Desks-For-Less

The first hits all the standard marks.  Lead with your primary keyword, list your secondary keywords and your brand.  However, when compared to a title wrote towards the intent of the user, it reads as spammy and robotic while the latter still includes the primary keyword but drives home their value.   The issue at hand has become that optimizing Titles has been long stuck in optimizing for rank while meta-descriptions were to influence engagement versus the more modern ideal which is optimizing both for engagement.

What many marketers forget is that their search results are not just competing for rank but competing for engagement against results that may be more optimized for relevance and engagement than theirs.  Take for instance these results for “Fashionable shoes for tall men” (I’m 6’8″ so this search happens daily):

google search results for tall fashion

Despite my searching for what fashionable shoes for tall men, many of the results are targeting someone wanting a shoe that makes them taller.  Taking that to the Title Element, compare the Tall Shoes | Height Increasing Shoes  to the 10 Style Tips for Tall Guys from an NBA Stylist result and imagine which would be more enticing to me based on my search intent?

When approaching the Title element, try and consider why a user is searching for your products or services.  While keyword data may return a number of variants for the same product, the days of simply adding each into your Title and measuring its success solely on rank are behind us.  The goal should be combining your keyword data with the topics and user intent behind your customer’s searches so that your search results provide the most relevant option to them.

Want to learn more?  Moz has put together a good list of 8 old school SEO best practices that are no longer effective including a section on Title elements.