Author: George Nguyen
Title tags are one of the most accessible ways to begin local SEO for your business. After all, they are akin to titling an article or video you created. Even so, many website owners overlook this potentially high-impact, low-effort optimization.
To help you shake off any SEO inertia and make the most out of the web pages you’re already creating and maintaining, I’ll showcase easy-to-implement tips, examples, anecdotes, and (where possible) the performance impact of these title tag optimizations.
Table of contents:
Before we get started, understand: Title tag updates aren’t going to make up for poor overall SEO. If search engines aren’t ranking your pages highly for other reasons (e.g., poor performance, inaccessible or low-quality content, etc.), an optimized title tag is unlikely to change that.
Additionally, the data shown below is for illustrative purposes. While the data represents real-life performance gains, other factors (such as how competitive your industry is, for example) are likely to influence your results.
What are title tags?
A title tag is an HTML element that designates the title of a web page. Users can see your title tag in search engine results, on social media feeds, and (if the page is open) in browser tabs.
Website owners and SEOs use title tags to convey what a page is about for both users and search engines.
Title tags can help convince users to click through on your content from search results and social media feeds by giving them an idea of what the page is about, encouraging them with a CTA, providing additional relevant information, and so on (as I’ll explain in the examples in the next sections).
Title tags are a confirmed Google ranking factor (although they are not as important as other considerations, like content quality).
In the image below, you can see the Wix SEO Learning Hub’s title tag in the search results for the keyword [learn SEO].
Note: In certain cases, Google may rewrite your title tag in its search results (referred to as the “title link”). Here’s a link to Google’s best practices for influencing your title link, which is an excellent basis for the optimizations I’ll discuss next.
How to change your title tag: The exact method and menu options for changing your title tag depend on the platform you used to build your business’s website—refer to the appropriate documentation.
Here’s how to change your title tag on other content management systems:
Pro-tip: Chrome browser users can install the SEO Pro Extension by MarketingSyrup to spot-check the title tag of individual web pages. This is useful for auditing your existing title tags as well as assessing the title tags used by your competitors.
Title tag tips for local SEO (w/ examples)
Optimize your local business pages’ title tags by:
The right tactic (or combination of tactics) will depend on factors such as the nature of your business, its products/services, your industry, etc.
Note: This page will be updated as more local SEO experts contribute best practices and examples, so consider bookmarking this page for future reference.
01. Include your business’s main offerings/services
The issue: The initial title tag for the homepage wasn’t informative. At a glance, potential visitors wouldn’t know what products/services the site offers.
The brand’s homepage’s title tag was initially:
Home - [brand name]
The approach: “As the client wasn't ranking for some of the bigger head terms for the industry, we had the thought that the homepage was the best page to rank for these terms,” said Jack Chambers-Ward, marketing and partnerships manager at Candour.
“These keywords cover the vast majority of the client’s products, plus the homepage is the page with the most backlinks on the site, so it’s also the page that would be able to compete for these more competitive terms,” he added.
While this optimization is informed by other SEO concepts (namely, how backlinks work), the title tag change was simple:
Wholesale dried flowers & preserved flowers UK - [brand name]
“This, combined with adding some basic introductory copy to the homepage, transformed the homepage’s performance,” Chambers-Ward said.
The performance impact:
In 12 months (October 2022 to October 2023), the homepage’s average organic traffic increased 393%, from less than 400 visits monthly to nearly 1,900 visits per month.
Position 1-3 rankings increased by more than 1200% from 3 to 41.
02. Include the localities your business serves
The opportunity: Some SEO publications recommend a title tag between 50-60 characters. This length is supported by Google on desktop and mobile devices, and results in the fewest title tag rewrites, according to Moz.
“Major SEO tools in the space consistently recommended limiting title tags only to the visible area on Google,” said Joel Headley, VP at Rio SEO and co-founder at Leadferno, who conducted a study to see whether longer title tags would diminish search visibility. In his own words, “The initial study was to debunk that premise and prove that longer title tags had a positive impact on ranking.”
The approach: For his title tag study, Headley added five unique, surrounding localities (around the business’s primary zip code) to the title tags of thousands of web pages.
Here’s an example of what this might look like:
San Jose Junk Removal | Evergreen | Silver Creek | Little Saigon | Willow Glen | Japantown
“The localities were inner localities to the area codes. That’s somewhat a surprising result given that most are trying to expand their reach to a broader area. This showed improvement by doubling down inside the current postal code you’re already positioned in.” — Joel Headley, VP, product management at Rio SEO
The performance impact: At the Whitespark Local Search Summit, Headley shared that the test resulted in a 16% ranking lift.
“Don’t worry about the character length whatsoever,” Joy Hawkins, owner at Sterling Sky Inc, advises local business owners, “It’s fine to exceed it.”
03. Add the page’s top queries
The opportunity: “Whilst this wouldn’t necessarily be classed as an ‘issue,’ we did potentially think we were leaving traffic on the table by not adding the queries that the page is actually ranking for into the page title,” said Ryan Jones, marketing manager at SEOTesting.
When Google indexes a page, it may start ranking for queries you do not expect it to. Some of these queries may come from language differences (between the wording used in your content and what users are searching for), but they can also come from contextually related queries.
While this tactic may not be right for all page types (it really depends on the page’s content and purpose), including these queries in your title tag could help you attract additional traffic.
The approach: “We used SEOTesting to establish what queries the page was ranking for,” Jones said. “SEOTesting has a report for this built into the tool. However, you can also use Google Search Console to find this information—you do not need to be an SEOTesting customer.”
The page in question ranked for two queries that weren’t directly mentioned in the title tag. Those queries were added to the page’s title tag; everything else on the page remained the same.
The page’s initial title tag was:
Premier Inn Deals - Rooms from £19
The optimized title tag:
Premier Inn Deals and Discount Codes 2023 (Rooms from £19)
The performance impact:
“Following a completed single-page test, in which we changed the page title to include these top queries and nothing else, we could see a considerable performance impact on the page,” Jones said.
Clicks per day increased by 59.65%.
Impressions per day increased by 34.82%.
The page’s average position improved from 18.07 to 15.51.
Click-through rate increased from 1.8% to 2.13%.
04. Include the year you published or updated the page
The issue: The client’s site runs an annual event and creates a new, corresponding web page for that event each year. The title tag included the name of the event, but not the year and date of the event. This meant that there were multiple results returned for a Google search for that event name.
The page title tag was initially formatted as:
[Event name] [event location]*
*The actual original title tag is not shown to preserve client confidentiality.
The approach: “Since there were a number of pages on the website about that event through the years, we wanted to make sure that Google and users could clearly disambiguate those pages,” Claire Carlile, local search expert at BrightLocal, said. “We also found that there was search volume for the name of event + year modifier, with even the past years attracting searches (for example, [event name 2015]).”
Carlile and her team identified 15 event pages and updated the title tag according to this structure:
[Event name] [Event date (month, year)] [Event location]
As this optimization was part of a larger effort, Carlile’s team also:
Updated on-page copy to reflect the changes in the title tag
Added internal links between the pages in case users wanted to read the details of the previous events
Retroactively added information from past events to those pages (event photos, design-led assets, and performer lists)
Changed URLs of past events so they sat in a subfolder of historical events.
Pro-tip: “In some cases, with a recurring event you might choose to keep just one URL and update the title tag and page content accordingly,” Carlile said. A common example of this is annual eCommerce sales pages (e.g., Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc). In that case, you can “make the URL ‘evergreen’ and don’t include the date in the URL,” Carlile said, “This would suit an event that had less historical significance or interest, where people would not need or want to read about previous iterations of an event.”
The performance impact:
Website traffic did not increase overall—however, traffic was not necessarily the objective behind this title tag optimization. This change helped make it easier for users to find event pages from years prior (by searching for the event name + year modifier).
“We also saw more visits to the older past event pages, as people could more easily navigate through those historical events,” Carlile said.
05. Add your unique selling point(s)
The opportunity: If your business differentiates itself by offering special services, niche products, etc., it’s a good idea to feature those unique selling points (USPs) within your title tag.
This enables you to set yourself apart in the search results by appealing to certain types of customers without them having to even click through to your website.
The approach: In the example below, Optima Pet Care highlights its USP by mentioning emergency and 24-hour veterinary care within its title tag.
While the title tag could be even more informative (by perhaps mentioning the types of animals the clinic serves, for example), it does serve to immediately differentiate itself from the other search results.
Here are a few examples of USPs local businesses can highlight within their their title tags:
Rush, emergency, or 24-hour services
Dietary options (i.e., vegan, gluten free, etc.)
Specialty (e.g., a mechanic specializing in imported or electric vehicles)
06. Include a CTA
The opportunity: A well-written CTA can help potential customers see that you understand and can satisfy their needs, which should help you increase conversions.
Here’s an example for a round-the-clock emergency plumber in Phoenix:
24/7 Emergency Plumbers of Phoenix | Techs Are Standing By
While you don’t need to use the “|” character, it’s generally a good idea to use some sort of separator in your title tag to make it easier for users to understand.
“If you're having a hard time coming up with ideas, look at the results Google displays for inspiration or to help remove ideas you may have surrounding your call to action. If every ranking result has a similar CTA, try something different that speaks more towards your ideal client.” — Blake Denman, president and founder at RicketyRoo
Pro-tip: You can also add variants of the primary keyword, additional locations, near me queries, etc. after the CTA using another separator, Denman said.
“Going from a standard 50–62 character title tag to 250+ characters looks really spammy but you’re counting on truncation or Google deferring to the H1 tag,” he said. “If you're going to do a test like this, make sure that your H1 tag reads like a good title tag and not simply just the primary keyword; that’s boring, add some brand panache to it.”
The performance impact: “We’ve tested this multiple times and there is always a decent lift with the additional keywords you’ve added after the second separator,” Denman said, “Lifts range depending on various factors but there has always been a lift.”
Specific client data was not available for this example.
Bonus: Create pages and titles to rank for local events
The opportunity: “The website for this particular business mentions local events where the business exhibits,” said Mordy Oberstein, head of SEO branding at Wix. “We thought pulling in traffic around these events would be a great way for the business to get eyes on their site and products.”
The approach: “The execution was incredibly simple,” Oberstein said. “The site created a simple page for the events they would be exhibiting at—and, we created a title tag that listed the event followed by the name of the site.”
In this particular case, the event was the Hoptown Summer Salute. The business’s event page’s title tag is:
2023 Hoptown Summer Salute | FoxFudge.com
The performance impact:
The net result was that the site outranked nearly all sites for keywords related to the event. “When the event had some search volume around it, the site would bring in associated traffic due to its ranking,” Oberstein said.
Title tags: One of many optimizations at your disposal
The purpose of this resource is to show you how a little effort towards your local SEO can mean more visits to your website (and, ultimately, more customers). Even so, title tags should not be the end of your efforts—I’ve simply highlighted a good place to start for those with little time and/or experience.
After you’ve built comfort with title tag optimization, instead of immersing yourself in multiple aspects of local SEO, consider choosing just one to focus on (I recommend your Google Business Profile or your Google reviews). This will help you better understand the value each element of local SEO brings to your business, which can help you save time when marketing your local business online.
George Nguyen is the Director of SEO Editorial at Wix. He creates content to help users and marketers better understand how search works. He was formerly a search news journalist and is known to speak at the occasional industry event.