Continuing on from WordPress SEO Tutorial Naming Your Site for Better Search Engine Rankings that touched on how important the title element (title tag to illiterate SEO experts :)) is, in this part of the WordPress SEO Tutorial we’ll cover title tag/element optimization.
When it comes to on-page WordPress SEO there is no other single area of a webpage more important than the Post Title Tags. Make sure our Posts Title Tags are Search Engine Optimized when using WordPress.
The title element is so important I’ve created two other SEO articles on optimizing title tags:
Why WordPress Post Titles Should be Search Engine Optimized
When using the Stallion Responsive Theme when a WordPress Static Page, WordPress Post (like this one), WordPress Category, WordPress Tag and even the Search result pages the SEO theme will add a lot less irrelevant text to the title tag than most (used to be all) WordPress themes I’ve looked at.
For example what you add to a WordPress Posts Title (on the Edit page under “Posts” > “Add New” or when editing a Post) will be used by most WordPress themes as part of the webpages title tag.
The screenshot above shows this Posts title “WordPress SEO Title Tag Tutorial”, it’s essential you put some thought into what titles you give your WordPress Posts etc… Unfortunately not all WordPress themes (or SEO plugins) use the WordPress titles in the best format.
Many WordPress themes will have one of these two title tag structures for various types of WordPress pages:
Older WordPress Themes Title Tag Format
Home Page Title : Blog Name
Static Pages Title : Blog Name | Title of Page
Single Posts Title : Blog Name | Title of Post
Categories Title : Blog Name | Category Name
Tags Title : Blog Name | Tag Name
Search Result Title Blog Name | Search Phrase
Monthly Archive Title | Blog Name | Date Archives
The above type of title tag structure is really bad, if your WordPress theme outputs this, change themes ASAP.
Newer WordPress Themes title Tag Format
Home Page Title : Blog Name
Static Pages Title : Title of Page | Blog Name
Single Posts Title : Title of Post | Blog Name
Categories Title : Category Name | Blog Name
Tags Title : Tag Name | Blog Name
Search Result Title Search Phrase | Blog Name
Monthly Archive Title Date Archives | Blog Name
This newer WordPress theme format is better, but still not the Best SEO Title Tag format. The above is acceptable for a branded WordPress site. Look at big brands like Amazon (they don’t use WordPress, but still a good example) their title tag structure is “Title of Page | Amazon” (“Title of Page | Brand Name”).
If your WordPress site is part of a brand and brand identity is important the above (second example) is acceptable as long as you name your WordPress site as the brand name (Blog Name = Brand Name).
On the other hand if you don’t own a big brand name or using your brand name as the blog name just doesn’t work there’s a much better SEO title tag format.
Best SEO Title Tags
This WordPress site uses the Stallion Responsive Theme which can output the second title tag format listed above (for branded sites) or a Best SEO Title Tag format for sites where branding isn’t very important. Since “SEO Gold” (name of this site) isn’t a big brand name I opted for the Stallion best SEO title tag option.
On this site my title tags are output as follows:
Stallion Theme Best SEO Title Tag Structure
Home Page Title : Blog Name
Static Pages Title : Title of Page
Single Posts Title : Title of Post
Categories Title : Category Name
Tags Title : Tag Name
Search Result Title Search Phrase
Monthly Archive Title Blog Name | Date Archives
Since the home page title tag is important there’s a Stallion Theme option to change it, for this site I’ve left it as the blog name “SEO Gold”.
Since most themes use the WordPress Post title as the webpages title tag you should spend some time researching a good title, target a keyphrase. This Post for example targets this keyphrase “WordPress SEO Title Tag Tutorial”, if I used another WordPress theme the title tag format could be:
SEO Gold | WordPress SEO Title Tag Tutorial
WordPress SEO Title Tag Tutorial | SEO Gold
from an SEO perspective adding “SEO Gold” to the title tag doesn’t make sense, this article isn’t targeting SEO Gold specific SERPs. The best SEO title is:
WordPress SEO Title Tag Tutorial
It really is that simple, pick a keyphrase (keyword research), add any additional text visitors might need** and that’s it.
** For example this article Top 5 Sites for Royalty Free Images for Commercial Use has the title tag “Top 5 Sites for Royalty Free Images for Commercial Use”.
It’s unlikely search engine users will search for this exact phrase, so it’s a combination of a keyphrase (Royalty Free Images) and some additional text to entice users to visit (Top 5 Sites for) AND share on social media.
What About WordPress SEO Plugins?
Why would I want to use the keywords “SEO” and “GOLD” in the title of this page?
I wouldn’t since they add little/no SEO value to content that’s about title tag optimization. About the only time I’d consider adding the name of a site in all titles is for branding reasons, if I worked on Amazon or Ebays sites it makes sense from a branding perspective to add the name of the site to their titles (at the end of the title tags) because there’s a lot of trust in those brands that WILL increase the click thru rate from Google etc… Well worth the SEO loss in having an extra word (I’d only add Amazon or Ebay in these examples).
If you are a Yoast or All In One SEO plugin user check the title tag format options and change them to match the Stallion Responsive SEO Theme structure.
SEO Your Old Post Title Tags
If you are reading this and thinking, damn all my 3,000 WordPress posts are along the lines of “I had a great morning” and my SERPs suck, don’t worry, you can spend the next 6 months editing them one at a time :) to search engine optimize the titles without harming current search engine rankings.
For a WordPress Post with a terrible SEO title edit it and change the title to something relevant. What WordPress will do is change the title of your posts, but not the URL’s of those posts (I do it all the time). So if you had a post “I had a great morning” and changed the title to “How I Won at Poker” all that would happen is the title would change, but the URL would remain www.domain.com/i-had-a-great-morning/ (assuming you use the URL format I recommend at SEO Friendly WordPress Permalinks).
Since I sell a WordPress SEO theme and when WordPress updates I have to check the SEO theme still works fine in the latest version of WordPress I use the ability to rename a page title without renaming the URL to gain the latest WordPress SERPs.
I’ve changed the title of this article several times:
It started life as : “WordPress Title Element/Tag Optimization”
Also had the title : “WordPress Title Tag SEO 2014”
Current title : “WordPress SEO Title Tag Tutorial”
You can see the URL structure (the WordPress Slug) of this page is still: “wordpress-title-element-tag-optimization” (because the page was originally called “WordPress Title Element/Tag Optimization”, had I created this page today (as I edit this article) the slug would be “wordpress-seo-title-tag-tutorial” to match the new title “WordPress SEO Title Tag Tutorial”.
So it’s OK to rename an old post, page, category etc… WordPress doesn’t automatically change the URL/slug (generally speaking don’t change the slug, you’ll loose rankings).
Did similar with the main WordPress SEO Tutorial page, you can see in the screenshot above the title and the WordPress slug are different: originally called the page “SEO Tutorial for WordPress”.
You can do similar with category and tag names. Edit the category name or tag name, but not the category slug or tag slug value (the slug value is for the permalinks) and like with renaming page/post titles the search engines won’t have any problems finding the URL of the page since it’s not changed.
So don’t panic if you’ve named your categories and tags poorly, rename them taking SEO in mind.
When you’ve got your page titles, category names, tag names etc… Stallion Responsive is designed to use that information in various parts of the SEO template to improve search engine rankings so go buy a copy of my SEO theme today.
David Law : Freelance SEO Consultant