With each year and update, Google gets better and smarter at understanding searcher intent and providing the best answers to their queries.  Title tags have always been an important part of small business SEO.  They are sometimes approached formulaically, trying to get in that main keyword and maybe the key geographic target. But now with more advanced AI, it is likely time we think more about how we write our titles, and a recent study from Backlinko dove into click-through rates with title tags. This is great information and can really help you guide your meta-tag writing going forward, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

Is Click-Through Rate (CTR) a Ranking Factor?

This has been debated for years. There is no doubt that Google can measure this and that they even use it as part of a quality score for paid search, so it shows they find it important. However, as this study shows, the ranking on the page has a great deal to do with CTR, so as with most pieces of data, it should never be taken alone.  A page that gets a great CTR and then immediate bounces is going to be looked at as well. It is just part of the equation, but combining a good CTR with good content that matches the title and keeps the user there is always a good user experience, which Google will tell you is a top-ranking factor. But as any SEO study will tell you, correlation does not mean causation. This data gives us information to then apply with reason to our own content.

Types of Queries

With any study on search queries, you have to keep in mind that Google is a search engine that is there to answer people’s questions, so queries will be weighted toward questions like “What time is sunrise tomorrow?”, “What will the weather be tomorrow in __________ city?” etc.  So these queries aren’t always the ones your small business is trying to show up for.  Just keep that in mind with some of the data.

SEO Takeaways for Your Title Tags

SEO meta-tagsI recommend you read the article for yourself, but if you don’t have time, I would say some great takeaways for small business owners is to go back and take a look at your titles. A higher CTR means more traffic, and can potentially mean moving up in the rankings if you can keep that traffic on your site. With that being said, here are some headlines and guidelines to go within the current SEO climate.

  • Optimal Title Tags are 15-40 characters: Get to the point but grab their attention. This is your chance to catch their eye, so just boring old formulas may not cut it anymore.
  • Titles with Questions Perform Better: Using question words like How, Why, When, etc. in your title seems to lead to a higher CTR. This makes sense with what I said above about most people asking questions, but don’t put a question in there for the sake of a question. Make it relevant.
  • Titles with Emotional Words Perform Better: Emotional words tend to grab the attention and the heart a little better. Be careful here and read their explanation of “Power Words” which perform worse, and emotional words, that perform better. Always remember that your user has an issue and if you can feel that for them and offer a solution, you are more likely to get their attention.
  • Write to Entice a Human Click, Not an Algorithm: Though we like to have keywords in our titles, just remember you are trying to get a human to click.  Take a look at your tag and make sure it isn’t just written to follow keyword placement rules and actually tells the user something that gets their attention.

With the rise of semantic search and the importance of content surrounding content for ranking success, it has moved over into our meta-tags as well. Your title and description are opportunities to get people to click on your link and go to your site. It is a delicate balance of relevance and a good call to action.  Try to see if some tweaks to your titles and get you more of that solid traffic.