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The Difference Between the SEO Title and the Page Title

A hand waving to attract attentionI am often asked to explain the difference between the SEO (or Custom) Title and the Page Title by those who update or add your own content. So here goes . . .

Both titles are important and their job is to do the same thing – attract attention and cause people to stop what they’re doing and click through to your article.

But they do it in different environments: SEO titles are for the search results and page titles are for the social media streams

SEO titles

Let’s start with SEO titles.

The SEO title is what appears as the blue link in the search results:

Screenshot of a search results listing showing the title tag

This title is an important SEO factor because the search engines place a heavy reliance on it in deciding whether or not your page is relevant to the search query.

So your SEO title needs to reflect the wording that searchers type into a search engine – the closer it can get to that the higher your page will appear in the search results.

It goes without saying, of course, that it must accurately reflect the content of your article!

If it doesn’t do that it will have exactly the opposite effect: your article will drop down (or even right out of) the search results listing.

So to develop your SEO title you need to do some keyword research, and there’s a great tool for doing that – click here.

You can type in keywords that you think are relevant to the content of your article, choose the search engine and country you want to target, and click the search icon.

In the ‘Keywords’ column the tool will display a listing of search terms that have been typed in by people searching for the information you have in your article.

All you need to do is choose the one that is most relevant to the content of your article and type that into the ‘Custom Title Tag’ field which appears below the window in which you’ve written your post (or page).

You should also complete the META description field, but that is the subject of a separate article.

Page Titles

The Page title is what appears as the title of your article in a Facebook news stream:

Screenshot of a page title as displayed on Facebook

In this case you want to capture the attention of people who are skimming through their newsfeed. It has to capture their attention and pique their interest enough so that they stop and click through to your article.

That is not the same as the SEO title, where you’re trying to get as close as possible to the search terms people are typing into a search engine.

So this time you need some pure copywriting skills to create a title that accurately describes the content of your article and catches peoples’ attention.

This could be a statement that includes a statistic that seems outrageous (as in the example above) but is, in fact, statistically accurate. It could also be a statement that accurately reflects the problem your article solves, by empathising with the pain your target readers are suffering.

Again, the crucial point is that it must accurately reflect the content of your article. If it doesn’t, as with the SEO title, you will do more harm than good.

Summary

So to summarise:

  • Page titles are for the social media news feeds and must capture peoples’ attention
  • SEO titles are for the search engines and must aim to match search terms as closely as possible

If you have any questions that we can help with please get in touch:

Cheers,

Martin Malden

Here to help: Hi, I’m Martin Malden. If you’re worried about the ever-increasing flow of new security threats online, don’t have the time to maintain your site properly, or you could use some WordPress training, please get in touch.