Mythbusting: Optimizing Meta Titles for Clicks

It’s common SEO knowledge that meta titles are a critical ranking element. In one of Rand’s Whiteboard Friday’s back in 2016, he argued that a meta title optimized for a click rather than keyword will have higher CTR and be therefore a stronger ranking signal than a well keyword optimized meta title.

Since we have already introduced the meta title as the number one signal for on-page optimization, we decided to conduct our own SEO experiment to bust or confirm this myth. Read on to find the answer!

As 98% of people don’t go to the second page in Google, the experiment is valid under one essential condition: there should be the high chance that anyone would click on test page, which means that the page should already be on page 1, otherwise CTR would be too low for this to be a valid experiment to undertake.

If you haven't watched Rand Fishkin's video about 8 SEO Practices that are no longer effective , or you just want to refresh it in mind before moving to the experiment and its astonishing results, this is your chance to do it:

We setup the test like this..

We set up two pages with exact meta titles Rand used in his example (to keep the same structure) with the only difference - the word “pipe” was substituted with a unique keyword. The searches that we were interested in replicating were the searches for “pipes” and “wooden pipes”.

  "A meta title that is optimized for a click will beat a meta title optimized for keywords"


  Rand's Hypothesis

Here is what we discovered

The meta title that was optimized for keywords won both the simulated searches of “pipes” and “wooden pipes”. 

Final Takeaway

The myth is BUSTED: meta title optimized for target keywords will beat meta title that isn’t. Recognizing the importance of both factors, we would argue that keyword optimisation in Title tag is a stronger ranking signal to CTR, so you really need to get your keyword in the meta title for ranking purposes first. Why? If you are not ranking well, you will never get the click.

For more information on top ten on page ranking factors from best to worst, read here

Use a tool such as PageOptimizer Pro to know how well your page is optimized for your keyword and which changes you can implement to improve your rankings.

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