What Is a Title Tag + How to Optimize Yours for Search Engines

What Is a Title Tag?

A title tag is HTML code that defines a webpage’s title. Which is visible in the browser tab and may be displayed as the clickable headline in search engine results and in link previews.

Here’s what an HTML title tag looks in a page’s <head> section:

<title>On-Page SEO: What It Is and How to Do It</title>

And here’s what it looks like on a Google Chrome browser tab:

Google Chrome browser tab

On a Google search results page, it can look like this:

Google search results page

And this is how it can appear as a link preview on X (formally Twitter):

X (formally Twitter) link preview

Note: The title tag is sometimes called SEO title, SEO page title, or meta title; however, these terms are not technically accurate.

What a Title Tag Is + How to Optimize Yours for Search Engines:

Why Do Title Tags Matter?

Title tags are crucial for the following reasons:

Better SEO Performance

Title tags help search engines understand the content on your page. So they can gauge its relevance for different queries.

And if your page is relevant for a given term, it’s likely to rank well (appear high) in search engine results pages (SERPs).

For example, a well-crafted title tag that includes the keyword “tips for yoga beginners” or “tips for beginner yogis” can significantly boost the page’s chances of ranking well for those and related search terms.

SERPs example

Higher Click-Through Rates

An effective and highly visible title tag can entice users and improve your click-through rate (CTR) from the SERP.

Think of it this way:

When your title tag is used as the title that appears in search results, it’s one of the main things users see before they decide whether to visit your page. And if it doesn’t grab their attention, they may choose a competitor’s result.

More clicks means more traffic. And possibly more conversions and sales. 

4 Best Practices for Writing Title Tags

Use these best practices to craft title tags to help your websites rank well and encourage more clicks:

Include Your Target Keyword

Include the webpage’s target keyword (the main keyword it’s focused on) in the title tag to tell search engines and users what it’s primarily about. And place it as close to the front of the tag as possible.

But avoid stuffing too many keywords into the title tag, which can make it look confusing and spammy. And even harm your rankings.

Here’s an example of an effective title tag using the keyword “life jacket safety”:

example title tag

If you haven’t yet determined your target keywords, use Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool to find relevant terms for your existing pages (which you’ll want to update after you’ve done your research) as well as the ones you’ll create in the future. 

Enter a broad term you want to research (e.g., “yoga tips”).

Then, select your target county and hit the “Search” button.

Semrush Keyword Magic Tool

The tool pulls from a database of over 25.5 billion keywords. And then provides you with a keyword list.

keyword list

You’ll see “Broad Match” terms by default. These are keywords that include any form of your starting term in any order. So, it often shows a lot of variety. 

Broad Match tab

To narrow your options, apply a filter that aligns with the type of content and title tags you’ll be creating.

Let’s say you’re finding keywords to use in blog posts and their title tags.

In this case, it’s a good idea to filter for terms that have informational search intent. Which means that users’ main goal in searching a given term is to answer a question or learn more about a topic. 

Click the “Intent” drop-down menu. Select the box next to “Informational,” and click “Apply.”

drop-down menu

You’ll now have a list that contains only terms that have informational intent. Which you can browse to find terms that you want to focus your content on.

Next, click the checkbox beside each keyword you want to use.

checkbox Keyword Magic Tool

You can then add them to a list in Semrush (using the “+ Add to keyword list” button) or export the selected terms as an XLSX, CSV, or CSV semicolon file. 

Semrush Export button

When creating each blog post, make sure to include your primary keyword in the content. And in the title tag. 

Make It Descriptive

A descriptive title tag gives users and search engines a clear understanding of what your webpage contains. To increase your chances of getting both rankings and clicks. 

To create a descriptive title tag, try to summarize the content in a few words. And make it both informative and appealing.

Like this:

title tag

Stick to the main point(s) so you avoid overloading it with too much information. Like this:

title tag

To quickly come up with title tag ideas, use the AI Writing Assistant app.

AI Writing Assistant app

The “Blog Titles” and “Website Headlines” options are both helpful for quickly generating ideas.

Just choose the right option for your page, adjust the settings as needed, and include the necessary information about your brand and the page.

You’ll then get a list of headline ideas. Which you can use as inspiration and adjust as needed. 

Here are some additional tips to make your title tags descriptive:

  • Use specific terms that convey the content accurately. Avoid vague descriptors that could apply to many things.
  • Highlight what makes your content different. For example, if a recipe on your page is vegan or takes only 20 minutes to prepare, mention these details
  • Use numbers to catch more attention. For example, "5 Ways to Save Money on Travel" can be more compelling than "How to Save Money on Travel."

Keep It Short

Using a short title tag helps ensure the entire title appears in search results (if the title tag is used) without being truncated.

This is what a truncated title looks like on the SERP:

title tag

A concise title tag focuses on delivering the essential message quickly and effectively.

Like this:


Here are some tips that can help:

  • Keep your title tag between 50 and 60 characters. This range is best for avoiding truncation.
  • Where appropriate, abbreviate common words and use symbols like "&" instead of "and" to save space
  • Place the most important keywords and information at the beginning of the title to ensure users see them—even if the search engine shortens them. And trim any filler words or non-essential details.

Stand Out

Creating a unique title tag for each page helps search engines understand which pages on your site are most relevant for different queries. And ensures you stand out from your competitors to get more clicks.

To make sure each of your title tags is unique among your own content, use Semrush’s Site Audit.

Follow the Site Audit configuration guide to set up your project.

Then go to the “Issues” tab and select the “Errors” button.

Issues tab

Enter “duplicate title tags” in the search bar and look for “# issues with duplicate title tags” in the list.

If you see this issue, click the blue number.

duplicate title tags

You’ll then be taken to a list of pages with duplicate title tags.

list duplicate title tags

Once you’ve identified the relevant pages, work to make each title tag unique. To increase your odds of ranking well. 

It’s also wise to make your title tags unique from what’s already shown in results. To communicate why it’s a better choice than the other options.

Use these tips to craft title tags that stand out:

  • Identify your page's unique selling points. Include that in your title tag.
  • Incorporate emotion-evoking words that resonate with the users. For example, "ultimate," "essential," or "exclusive."
  • Ask a question or pose a challenge. Which can provoke curiosity and engagement.
  • Tailor your title tags to your target audience's needs and wants

Check Your Website for Title Tag Issues

Monitoring your title tags can help you spot issues that might be preventing you from getting the SEO results you want. So you can adjust.

Semrush’s On Page SEO Checker provides actionable recommendations to help you improve your on-page SEO. Including suggestions specifically for your title tags.

Open the tool, enter your domain, and click “Get ideas.”

Semrush On Page SEO Checker

Follow the instructions in this configuration guide to configure the tool for your website.

On Page SEO Checker

After the setup, the tool will analyze your domain. And you’ll see an “Overview” report page that looks like this:

Overview report page

Click the “Optimization Ideas” tab to view webpages that have recommendations. Sorted by priority.

Optimization Ideas tab

Click the “# ideas” button next to a page to see the tool's recommendations for it.

# ideas button

Be on the lookout for problems with your title tags. Like missing title tags, title tags that don’t contain a primary keyword, irrelevant title tags, etc.

The green checkmarks indicate areas where you’ve optimized your content.

green checkmarks

If you notice any title tag-related issues, click on “Show more” or “See detailed analysis” (depending on the recommendation) to learn more about the optimization idea.

Then, implement the recommendations to help your content perform better in search.

After that, refer to this on-page SEO checklist to make sure you cover all the essentials. 

Improve Your Title Tags

When you follow best practices for title tags, you’re more likely to rank highly and attract clicks.

Get started using Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool to uncover relevant terms to target.

Then, leverage Semrush’s On Page SEO Checker to check for title tag issues you can address.

Access these (and more) tools with a free Semrush account

About the Author
Nadica Naceva, Head of Content at Influencer Marketing Hub, is a seasoned writer and reviewer with in-depth expertise in digital and content marketing. Leveraging her extensive experience in guiding content creation and strategic direction, Nadica brings a critical eye and analytical approach to reviewing articles and educational pieces. Her commitment to accuracy, integrity, and innovation with each review helps IMH grow as a leading source in influencer marketing. Her insights are backed by first-party data, ensuring content meets the highest standards of relevance.