Marketers know that Google is constantly changing to keep its users’ best interests in mind. This keeps marketers on their toes and has them always learning and evolving to keep up with continual updates – most of which go unannounced. For SEOs (search engine optimists), that means strategies around ranking factors like title tags, meta descriptions or alt text often get out of date quickly.
With that in mind, let’s talk about how Google is ranking content as of early 2023.
Google uses 100s of factors to rank content but doesn’t share what those factors are.
On occasion, Google will share some deeper insight when it releases bigger algorithm updates. In December 2022, Google finished rolling out its “Helpful Content Update,” which is primarily meant to combat AI-generated data by prioritizing two things: user intent, and informative, unique content.
Thankfully, SEOs have uncovered the other essentials. The most important factors, according to FirstPageSage, are:
Other factors, like keywords, backlinking, schema markup, page speed, and mobile friendliness still exist; however, they all have less weight than they did before. First Page Sage broke it down in this table:
As you can see, SEO meta title tags remain an essential ranking factor., with 15% of the weight.
Think of title tags like a book title. It’s one of the first things you see, and it gives you a general idea about what the story is about. SEO title tags do the same thing – but on Google.
They are the “blue links” that come up when you search for something online and are ideally between 50-60 characters long. They look like this:
In this example, you can expect to go directly to Agital’s Careers page when you click on the “Careers” blue text. So, why does this matter?
It’s not so much title tags that are important, but rather, it’s the relevant keywords in them. Keywords are what you search in Google – things like “best running shoes for men,” “cars for sale,” and “which celebrity is my lookalike” are all keywords.
Put simply, relevancy is everything. Users (and Google) expect to see content that matches the title tags. For example, if you click on a title tag that reads “Used Cars for Sale in Gilbert,” you expect to see a list of used cars for sale in Gilbert, Arizona.
On the flip side, if you want to find used cars but are instead taken to a blog about how to fix a car’s engine, then the title tag isn’t relevant to the content. Google will penalize this content, likely making it nearly impossible to find on the SERP.
The takeaway from all of this is this: keep your title relevant to what the content users expect to see.
Have you ever searched for a mac and cheese recipe on Google, and every result looked the same? Your SERP may look like this:
While it looks like these three recipes are all saying the same thing, they’re using title tags to target a specific audience to help drive user engagement – such as the number of people who click on the article, who return to it at a later date, who share it on social media, etc.
The first result uses “(Contest-Winning)” as a hook to capture those looking for the best mac and cheese recipe out there.
The second listing adds “(with video)” to grab clicks from visual learners who don’t like and/or don’t have time to read a recipe step-by-step.
The third result shows the brand name “Tastes Better from Scratch” to help drive brand awareness.
Which one are you likely to click on/engage with? If you’re like the average user, you’ll likely click on the “Contest-Winning” as it stands out more and promises something better – it’s award-winning, after all.
If you want your title tag to stand out and drive user engagement, you must think of the user first. Who’s this webpage or blog article for? Once you find that out, you can use the title tag to talk directly to them.
Google wants to promote articles and websites that show niche expertise. Having numerous title tags about the same topic, but showing a unique perspective each time, is how you achieve this.
Let’s go back to the used car example we used earlier. You can post webpages and blogs about all the following topics to help show niche expertise:
The list goes on and on. All of this will show Google that you are in the used car business and know exactly what you’re talking about, thus labeling you as a “niche expert” on the topic.
A lot has changed going into 2023. Here’s a quick breakdown of the more significant changes:
Title tags are still extremely relevant and shouldn’t be looked over by any SEO worth their salt. They are the user’s (and Google’s) first introduction to your website or blog, and good title tags increase your chances of ranking better in the SERPs, getting more user engagement, and showing niche expertise in your industry.
If you’re worried about your title tags or you don’t know where to start, give Agital a call or reach out online. Our team of SEOs is well-versed in the latest algorithm updates and can help you find the perfect title tags for your content. Contact them today.