Adding your keyphrase to your SEO title

In the Yoast SEO plugin, we tell you to use your keyphrase in your SEO title. But what exactly is an SEO title? Why is it important for SEO? And how can you improve your SEO title? We’ll try to clear things up in this article.

What is an SEO title?

Let’s start with the basics. When we’re talking about the SEO title, we’re talking about the HTML title tag (or page title). If you look at the source of a page, you’ll find it in the head section. It looks like this:

This is an example page title - Example.com

The SEO title is part of the search result. If you search for something in a search engine, the search engine will provide you with a list of search results. These search results usually consist of three elements:

  1. an SEO title (in blue)
  2. a URL (in green)
  3. a meta description (in black)

In addition, the SEO title is shown in the browser. In tabbed browsers, this title is usually shown in the page tab, as shown in the image below.

Tab SEO for beginners

Don’t confuse the SEO title with the main heading or H1, which the user sees on the page itself. These two are not the same. However, the main heading is important too, and if you want to dive deeper into that, we have an entire article about headings and SEO.

Learn more about this check in Yoast SEO in our explanation of the page title keyphrase assessment!

How to use your keyphrase in the SEO title

For best results, add your complete keyphrase at the beginning of the SEO title. The plugin check for this is quite strict. That’s because title tags are very important for SEO. The page title is one of Google’s most important ways to figure out your page’s topic. Not having the focus keyphrase in the title severely damages your chance of ranking. In addition, potential visitors are much more likely to click on a search result that exactly matches what they were looking for.

Sometimes, adding your complete keyphrase at the beginning doesn’t make sense. When you have a very long keyphrase, for example, it can look awkward. Sometimes, you have to be flexible. If your SEO title looks weird with the keyphrase at the beginning, try to add as much of the keyphrase as you can, as early in the SEO title as possible.

 If you use a function word such as “the”, “a”, or “who” before your keyphrase in the title, it is filtered out (for a whole bunch of languages). So, if you start your SEO title with “the”, followed by your keyphrase, you’ll still get a green bullet.

What else should I include in the SEO title?

In addition to your keyphrase, your SEO title should contain your brand. If people search for a topic and see your brand several times, even if they don’t click on it the first time, they might click when they see you again in their next page of results. Moreover, if you don’t include your site name in your SEO title, you’ll also run the risk of Google automatically changing the title for you. They think the site name should be in your title, and if you don’t include it, well… they might just change your title and add it for you.