For years, I’ve been saying that title tags are one of the most important pieces of optimizable real estate for web marketers. In fact, I still believe that title tags carry more per-character weight than anything else you can optimize on a page. And probably by no small margin either!
But if you are tweaking title tags for improved rankings, you need to stop immediately!
Let me back track a bit. Do I think you should optimize your title tags? Yes, absolutely. But once you’ve optimized for search rankings, leave it alone and don’t touch it again–for that reason. Going forward, you should only be optimizing your title tags (and meta descriptions) for clicks-throughs and conversions. Period. End of story.
Search engine rankings are only a means to an end, and there is only so much you can tweak a title tag to get the rankings you want. But if you keep messing with it, you may get one benefit (rankings) while creating another problem (lower clicks or page conversions).
In the race to get clicks from the search results, you have three tools at your disposal:
- The ranking itself. The higher up you are, the more likely you are to get visitors.
- The title tag that search engines typically use as the clickable link to your site.
- The meta description that search engines typically display below the title.
But, just like rankings, clicks are just a means to getting the conversion. Conversions matter a whole lot more than both of those things. Yes, you want the exposure that rankings give you. And you want the click-throughs that are a natural result–unless it costs you conversions to get them, and it often does.
Nobody likes a bait-and-switch. I understand that most people don’t set out to do that when they get search rankings, but it often happens when digital marketers focus on rankings over everything else. In reality, you’re not competing over rankings at all. You’re competing over turning your rankings into traffic and that traffic into customers.
Title and description tags that are optimized for rankings have done their job when they get rankings, regardless of what happens after that. But tags that are optimized for conversions play a significant role in assisting the conversion well after the visitor clicks into the site.
Does that make keywords irrelevant? Not by any means. It just means that you only need to optimize for keywords once. From there, tweak your tags to improve convertable clicks. You may not win the highest rankings, but you will win the most business.
Checklist for tweaking title tags for conversions
- Optimize using relevant keywords.
- Review search results for optimized phrases.
- Craft better messaging that stands out from the others.
- Make sure content of the page matches the messaging.
- Test different messaging and analyze clicks and conversions.