I'm going to show you how you can quickly and easily optimize your website page titles to generate more links through social sharing which will help drive more visitors to your website. In fact, in most cases, you can make this one simple change in less than 30 seconds.
Optimized Page Titles Are Important To Sharing Content On Twitter
The increased popularity of social networks has led to a major growth in the amount of content being shared through social media sites like Twitter.
- Twitter has 243.7 million registered accounts sharing 11 million updates per month source: TweetReports
- Twitter's awareness among the 12+ demographic is at 92% source: Edison Research
- Small businesses doubled their use of Twitter in 2010 source: emarketer
- Social media updates from Twitter are now more fully integrated into Google search results source: Google Blog
And with the dramatic effect shared links are impacting search and SEO, it's important to take advantage of a really simple technique to generate more links to your website.
Those links can also mean more leads for your business and a lower cost per acquisition.
Note: For the purposes of this article, I'm assuming you already have an understanding of what a page title is, how it's generated, and how you can customize it.
How to Optimize Your Website Page Titles To Generate More Links To Your Website
There are three things to do in creating optimized page titles for sharing on Twitter that will create more links pointing to your website.
1. Make It Easy For Reader's To Share Your Content
If you want people to share your content, you need to make it easy for them to do so.
I can't stress this enough. If you don't have options on your website that makes it one-click easy for readers to share your content, then you need to do that right now! Otherwise, the following information won't help you.
There are many sharing services, widgets and plugins available that are incredibly easy to add to your site. Don't worry about picking the "right" one, just pick one and start using it.
Now that you have sharing options available on your site, it's important to understand the character limits of a Twitter update (tweet), how those limits affect Retweets (when someone shares your tweet with others) and the ability to include more links.
2. Know The Optimal Page Title Length
When writing optimized website page titles for sharing, it's important to take into consideration character length limits.
Twitter Update Character Limits
Twitter has a 140 character limit -- including spaces and links, even if the link is shortened.
If you use a URL shortener like bit.ly, you can estimate the link taking up 21 characters (the link plus one space before it). That leaves 119 characters for your page title.
Page Title (119 char.) + Shortened link (21 char.)
For sharing purposes, you want people to be able to Retweet your content without the message being cut off. Since the maximum character length for a Twitter username is 15 characters, you need to subtract another 21 characters:
Here's the breakdown for how we came to 21 characters:
2 characters for the "RT" which signifies that the message is a Retweet.
+ 1 for the space
+ 1 for the "@" symbol
+ 15 (max) for the Twitter username
+ 1 for the colon symbol
+ 1 for the trailing space before the actual message
And yes, before you ask, using "RT" is the old school method of Retweeting a Twitter update. But it is still widely used. And if we take into consideration a worse case scenario, we'll always know there's ample space remaining for sharing.
This is what a old school Retweeted update looks like in TweetDeck. Please also note the article title being shared. I'll come back to that shortly.
So, after we subtract 21 characters for the Retweet information and 21 characters for the shortened link, we're left with 98 characters for the page title.
Retweet info (21) + Page Title (98) + Shortened link (21) = 140 characters
Keeping this 98 character page title limit in mind, it's also important to note that from a search engine optimization (SEO) standpoint, Google only shows the first 60 to 70 characters of a page title in their search results. So if you're able to keep your main page title to 70 characters, you'll achieve a great page title length for both SEO and social sharing.
Page Title (70) + Shortened link (21) = 91 characters
But wait, there's more...
Now that we understand an optimal page title length, let's move on to the most important part on how to add more links to your website -- by branding your page titles.
3. Brand Your Page Titles To Increase Links
Let's face it, branding is really important.
As such, including your brand name into your page titles helps increase brand awareness.
The biggest question then becomes, should you include your actual brand name or your website URL into your page titles?
Whether you decide to use your brand name or website URL, make sure you do not add it as the first part of your page title. That's a big SEO mistake because more emphasis is placed on keywords appearing at the beginning of a page title.
The best practice is to place your blog/company/brand name/URL at the end of your page title. It will give you the most benefit without taking anything away from your SEO efforts.
Example of Page Title with Website Name
When this page is shared on Twitter in TweetDeck, the update will look like this;
Two good things about this page title are;
1. Total update length is 106 characters -- leaving 34 spaces for extra sharing like this;
2. The site name is included at the end of the page title which helps increase brand awareness.
But it does nothing to add more links pointing to their website.
The Secret To Creating More Clickable Links To Your Website
Instead of using your brand name, use your site URL in your page title.
Example #1: Social Media Examiner
If Social Media Examiner used their URL instead of just their website name in their page title, the Twitter update would look like this;
Looking at the tweet, you'll see that the URL was automatically converted into a link to their site!
Now it includes one link to their blog post (the shortened URL) plus one link to their home page. And it only added two characters to the total length.
That's a huge benefit.
Since Social Media Examiner is an online business, I imagine their goal is to drive people to their website. In which case, using their URL instead of the word separated name would help them do that.
Example #2: NYTimes.com
Here's an example of the New York Times using a URL in page titles instead of their formal, word separated name.
About These Examples
I use TweetDeck examples for how this technique works because it converts URLs into links with the least amount of effort. So simply adding a domain extension to the end of a word (like Book.com) is automatically converted it into a link. Given that 5.5% of Twitter users (over 13.4 million people) use TweetDeck, if only those users see the website URL as a link, you receive the benefit of generating extra links to your website. That's pretty significant.
Outside of TweetDeck feeds of Twitter updates used on other web sites also sometimes convert URL's into clickable links. But I believe it's just a matter of time before all social sharing sites start auto converting without the need for "www" or "http://"
As you can see, a very simple change to your page titles can give you a boost in extra links. And by understanding the length parameters for a twitter update, you can't optimize and adjust your article titles to give you the maximum social sharing benefit.
What are your thoughts on the subject? Have you tested different page title lengths or using a brand URL instead of just a name?
6 thoughts on “Social Sharing: How To Optimize Page Titles To Generate More Clickable Links To Your Website”
A great article Michael! I use bit.ly as well – I love the tracking feature to see how many people are clicking and sharing.
As you have mentioned, branding is vital and following your great instructions will allow us to share great content while also building brand awareness.
What I love from bit.ly, too, is that you can use your own domain name for it. I bought ruudhe.in for example. True, there are scripts out there that let you do the same thing but this is a no-hassle, free solution.
Thanks for dropping by Annemarie. Nice blog you have going yourself; loved the time management posts.
Hi Annemarie – thank you for your kind comment.
Although I knew about auto linking, it didn’t really hit me until I saw the adverse effect it can have. When I tweeted an article from SEOBook.com, I noticed the domain in the page title was written as two words “SEO Book.com”, and the Book.com was auto linking to Barnes and Noble. Probably not what the author intended.
I’m looking forward to reading your blog.
I agree the URL’s will be converted more and more in social media (and more). but just in case, I choose to use the http://drhaley.com (without the www) because it is shorter. Maybe we should all make that the preferred form of our URL’s for creating backlinks and the like. Also, one of your examples references an article that says it is not smart to stuff keywords into domains. Stuffing keywords into the TLD name also makes it longer – which again is a problem. It probably makes sense to have a short URL and then use your own “pretty link” or the likes of – instead of link shorteners. If you think about it, everytime you use a shortlink you are actually making a link to someone elses domain – which probably has no SEO benefit to you. To drive the point home, I just made the pretty link: http://drhaley.com/1 which is only long because I have a long URL. It took me 20 charachters + 1 for the space after it. But I can keep the part after the slash quite short because only I use this link shortening service… not the whole world! Everyone with their own domain can choose to do the same thing making their short url’s point to their own domain. What do you think?
Hi Dr. Michael – Thanks for your comment, you bring up a lot of different points.
I agree, it’s both shorter and less confusing to use a non “www” address. It’s just a matter of choosing to use it and including the proper code in the site htaccess file to ensure everything points to the right place. It always amazes me how many sites don’t make a conscience decision about which one to use, and then one or the other leads to an error page or doesn’t connect at all.
Stuffing a domain with keywords does make it longer and can look spammy but exact domain matches do have there good points. Here are a few articles on the subject. Take a read and decide for yourself.
“Branded vs Keyword-Rich Domain Names”
“Should You Buy An Exact Match Domain Name?”
“Why exact domain matches rank so well”
As Ruud mentioned above, there are scripts available (like lessn) to create your own URL shortener, but you can always use your own domain through bit.ly with less setup and get analytics too. But whether you roll your own of use a custom domain name through a service, both will help with increasing brand awareness. For example, the short URL for the last article listed above is for Search Engine Land.
I don’t see a downside in using a URL shortener through another service in creating links, even if it goes through their site first. A shortened URL main purposes if to reduce number of characters used in social media sharing. And, if you look at this article “How Is Twitter Impacting Search and SEO?” http://bit.ly/f9qbYr you’ll see that regardless of who the link is through, Google is taking note.
Thanks for your thoughts on this.
Dr. Michael — a quick update regarding SEO benefit from using shorlinks; SearchEngineJournal posted this article, “Google Clarifies URL Shortening’s Impact on SEO” http://bit.ly/dPgPWL
In short, Google treats shortlinks as being a link for the sake of pagerank – to the destination.
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