The page title and meta title are the headlines for your articles. They are very important to secure high page rank on the search engine results page and should be written to influence the search engine robots first and the site visitors second. Before writing your page (or post) choose two or three keyword phrases your article will focus on.
Find a WordPress template which offers a place to enter meta titles and meta descriptions or install an SEO plugin.
Meta titles should make sense to the reader, but the wording should be based on keyword search popularity and relevance to the rest of the web page content. The meta title field is where you tell the search engines what you would like them to use when they display the page title in the search results list. Your page title is what people see when they arrive at your site and is added to the top field above the Permalink: line in WordPress. The meta title and page title do not need to be identical but it’s important to use the same keywords in both places.
The permalink should match the meta title making sure you use the keyword phrases you are targeting for that page/post article. Be careful though, if you are re-working your pages for SEO you may already have search placement for the current permalink. In that case, install the 301 redirect plugin to be sure you notify the search engines of your new page permalink or you will lose your ranking and your visitors could get a 404 page not found error message. However, if you don’t have search traffic coming to your site on that page (check your analytics for the site) don’t bother with the 301 redirects, they can be problematic if not cleaned up over time. You’ll gain more ranking and traffic by making the changes than you would lose without the redirect.
You can get some good ideas for your titles by looking at top selling magazines such as Reader Digest. They spent lots of money researching what headlines sell.
Examples of Good Titles
- Tips on Growing Flowers – How to Grow Flowers
- US Population Statistics – 2008 United States Population Statistics
- Chocolate Dessert Recipe – Best Chocolate Dessert Recipes for Chocolate Lovers
- Tax Tips – Tips on How to Pay Less Taxes (someone nothing thinking about SEO might title it Tax Tips – Tips on How to Pay Less Taxes to Uncle Sam and adding Uncle Sam could confuse the search engines and decrease your impact)
When creating meta titles:
- Do repeat keyword phrases – no more than twice is usually best
- Do tie these phrases to your content and other meta data
- Do use plurals and word variations when possible
- Do limit the use of punctuation
- Do use initial caps throughout the title
Note that the above title tags accomplish three things:
- They help robots understand what is most important about the content on the page by repeating part of the keyword phrases that would be found in article titles and content
- They make sense to people reading them
- By using plurals when sensible, it allows more possible keyword searchers (both on singular and plural or major keywords)
How Long Should a Meta Title Be in Length?
Generally, a title should be long enough to be clear; short enough to avoid being “truncated.” Truncation happens when a title is too long. Search engine robots will only read so many characters then move on. Different search engines read different numbers of characters but if you keep your titles less than 150 characters you will keep most major search engine robots happy.
Use your keyword list, title your page/post using your keywords and write your meta titles. Good luck!