WordPress SEO by Yoast Tutorial: How to Supercharge Titles

Do you have questions about how to set up titles in WordPress SEO by Yoast?

Having problems with duplicate site titles?

Wordpress SEO by Yoast

WordPress SEO by Yoast has earned the reputation of being one of the “must have” plugins for anyone running a WordPress blog or website. If you are wondering if this plugin can help your organic SEO efforts or if you are a seasoned user and would like to learn a few tips, please read on. This article will concentrate on the “Home” and the “Post Types” tabs of this phenomenal plugin.

Significant on page search engine optimization element

Your page’s title tag is a significant “on page” search engine ranking factor that tells the search engines and visitors what your page is about. Eric Enge, CEO at Stone Temple Consulting states,

“The title tag is the single most important “on page” element in telling a search engine what your page is all about.”

Google Webmaster Tools states:

“Titles are critical to giving users a quick insight into the content of a result and why it’s relevant to their query. It’s often the primary piece of information used to decide which result to click on, so it’s important to use high-quality titles on your web pages.”

Yoast’s SEO plugin does an excellent job of helping authors to optimize page and post titles. In my previous WordPress SEO by Yoast tutorial, we focused on fine tuning SEO with the General and Page Analysis tabs of the SEO editor. Today, I would like to take a step back and examine the plugin’s title settings, review how to optimize titles for organic SEO, and help troubleshoot duplicate titles.

How to set up WordPress SEO by Yoast’s titles

Key points

  1. How to set up WordPress SEO by Yoast’s titles
  2. How to optimize your titles for organic SEO
  3. Troubleshooting duplicate titles

The web page title, along with the rich snippet (often the META description), is the first thing that users see in Google’s search results.

Google search results

Many WordPress driven websites and blogs list titles “Blog title » Blog Archive » Keyword rich post title” or “Blog title » Keyword rich post title” as is the case in the example above.

To maximize your website’s SEO power and to help to attract the traffic it deserves, the keyword rich title should be first. WordPress SEO by Yoast helps with this. The reasons are twofold:

  1. Search engines give more weight to words at the beginning of a title.
  2. The first words in a title are the first thing a user sees in the search engine results .

Out of the box, WordPress SEO by Yoast places the post or page title first, followed by the page, a separator and then the site’s name as in the example below:

WordPress SEO by Yoast Posts title settings

The “Title template” settings can be edited to include the title and the site name like this:
%%title%% %%sep%% %%sitename%%

Title Length

The length of a page or post’s title is fixed. It is important to note that although there is “no magic number”, titles are limited to approximately 55 characters. Longer titles will still get indexed, but will be cut off in the search results. If you find that a title is going beyond the approximate length of 55 characters, you can make adjustments on the individual page or post in the WordPress SEO by Yoast settings.

The following is an example of a title that is too long. WordPress SEO by Yoast will provide a warning that the title is too long.

WordPress SEO by Yoast - titles too long

This is an example of the same title that was edited and is now under the approximate title width.

WordPress SEO by Yoast edited title

How to fix WordPress SEO by Yoast – Duplicate Site Title

Some themes have code that interferes with the plugin’s formatting of titles. After you have installed and set up WordPress SEO by Yoast, examine how your titles look. You can do this by placing your mouse on the page’s title tab or by viewing the source code as in the example below in FireFox.

Duplicate titles in WordPress SEO by Yoast

In the graphic above, you will see the duplicate page title. There are two ways to fix this.

Option One:

Go to Yoast WordPress SEO: Titles & Metas and select the “General” tab. Under the “Title settings” check the box next to “Force rewrite titles” as in the example below.
Force rewrite titles in WordPress SEO by Yoast

Option Two

This option involves editing the PHP script in the header.php file of a theme. First, you locate the title tagsscript in the header.php as in the graphic below.
Source code showing title tags
Replace the script that is between the opening and closing title tags with the PHP function:


The result will be:

If you feel uncomfortable editing the code in your theme, you may want to choose the first option. If this does not correct the duplicate titles, you will need to edit the header.php or ask someone to help you.

Summary

There are a number of contributing factors that make up great titles that help maximize SEO effectiveness, from using keyword phrases, evoking emotion, calls to action and much more. Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin is a great tool that will help you maximize your organic SEO efforts by concentrating on supercharging your titles.

Have you been using WordPress SEO by Yoast on your WordPress driven website or blog? If so, how do you like it? If you haven’t had the chance to use it, are you ready to give it a try?

40 comments

  1. Pingback: WordPress SEO by Yoast Tutorial: How to Superch...

    • It is a great tool to help with SEO, Beverley. I would love to hear how you like it once you have had the chance to use it if you do decide to install it.

  2. Oh this is great and very timely for me. I have this set up on my blog and sometimes I am unsure what keywords to use and just how to best use it. I will save this to fully take in later
    Veronica recently posted..When I grow up……My Profile

    • Veronica, I’m glad to hear that this comes at a good time for you. Please let me know if you have any questions once you have had the chance to review it.

    • Thank you, Caroline. I hope that the golden nugget about the title length in Google’s search results will help those that do not use WordPress as well.

    • Caroline, that is great news! I knew that you had reservations and it has become more user friendly over the last 3 years. I’m so glad to hear that you like this post, and you are very welcome! Thank you for taking to read and comment!

  3. My wordpress site is now complete, and I must admit I don’t understand this plugin at all. I’d like to know more about it, though, because SEO is the #1 most important thing on my site. So, I’m going to as: If I go to Plugins, where do I find SEObyYoast? And if I do find it, what do I do with it after that? (You can tell I didn’t add the plugsins, my webdesigner did!). I’d love some information because this is very valuable to me. Thanks.

    • Thank you for stopping by, Roz. I agree. Yoast is one valuable plugin to use as a tool to reach our organic SEO. I’m glad that you found this helpful!

  4. I’m just glad I have a professional web designer to deal with this. And I have the best! :)

    Your tutorials are a great go-to option for those who need to DIY. And Yoast also helps in making SEO more quantifiable. So a Robin-Yoast combination is a winning pair! Thanks for not giving up on us ‘mortals’ in the land of the programmers :)
    Veronica Solorzano Athanasiou recently posted..URLs across Social Media platforms.My Profile

    • Veronica, you have a way of always making my day! I’m happy to hear that you have found WordPress SEO by Yoast a valuable tool and that this tutorial has helped.