At Workshop Digital, every new SEO client gets our in-depth, 200-point SEO site audit. This is the time to identify issues and opportunities and present them to our clients—and use the information gathered to help inform our SEO strategy.
In addition to a presentation, we also include a data file that lists all of the issues and the priority we set for each issue. To write this post, I combined the most recent 15 audit data files, which totaled more than 500 identified issues or opportunities. Let's discuss the most common SEO issue our team encounters: having a site’s title tags being too long, not optimized, duplicated, or missing altogether.
Title Tags - Too Long, Not Optimized, Duplicate, Or Missing
At the top of the most common SEO issues are title tags. All 15 websites we analyzed had multiple issues with their site’s title tags—whether they were too long, not optimized, duplicate, or missing altogether. Not only is this a common issue with websites, but it is also a very impactful issue. Optimized title tags are proven to be one of the most impactful elements of SEO.
Before we begin, let’s start with the basics.
What is a title tag?
A title tag is a piece of code on a webpage that serves as the overall “title” or purpose of a page.
The title tag is also visible in the tab of your browser.
Besides having a major impact on your SEO, title tags are often your website’s first impression with users. The results of any Google search include the title tags of every ranked webpage.
What are the common issues with title tags?
1. The page is missing a title tag
The worst thing you can do with a title tag? Not have one. Not only are you not benefiting from the SEO lift of having an optimized title tag—you are also forcing Google to display their own version based on the content and context from the page. The titles that Google’s robot displays are not always what you want as a first impression of your business.
2. The same title tag is duplicated across many pages
Another issue we run into is when multiple pages have the same title tag duplicated across multiple pages. In the example above, each page serves a unique purpose—yet the title tag is the same for each. An optimized, unique title tag will help Google and users differentiate the pages and make it easier for pages to show up for the terms directly related to that page’s content.
3. The title tag is too long
A common issue we encounter is when title tags are too long. Title tags should be between 50-60 characters. Any title tag that’s longer than 60 characters runs the risk of being cut off by Google, leaving users to wonder what the page is about. This is a common issue, but isn’t always a high priority. We typically recommend that your key pages—or your most popular pages—have title tags with the proper length.
4. The title tag is not optimized.
The last issue we typically find is that title tags are not optimized. We identify title tags as not optimized if they don’t include the target keyword or focus for the page. Including your target keyword in your title tag dramatically increases your success for ranking for that keyword. Title tags that are optimized also help users understand the main theme of the page.
Best practices for title tags
Although I covered the most common issues we encounter with title tags, I most certainly did not cover them all. In general, however, we typically recommend the following to our clients about title tags:
“Every page should have a unique title tag that includes the page’s target keyword and is less than 60 characters.”
Our team uses website crawlers like Screaming Frog to analyze the title tags of a website. Screaming Frog makes it easy to identify pages that have issues like the ones we described above. However, title tags are only one of nearly 200 audited items we check for in our website audit. A website audit can help uncover new opportunities and provide you the upper-hand you need to beat out your competition.
Contact us today to see how you can outrank your competition. Happy optimizing!
Authors note: This post includes screenshots of live websites. The screenshots provided are of websites found through random searches online. Besides the obvious example of www.workshopdigital.com, these sites are not affiliated with Workshop Digital.