Last week, there was some drama over whether or not title tags were a ranking factor. While the headline stated that titles were not a critical ranking factor, what John Mueller had actually said was that “it is not the most critical part of the page.” This is true, while it isn’t THE most important part of the page – one could easily argue content is – it is still pretty important. And for those who read the headline only, as opposed to the full article, there was definitely some confusion on the issue.
John Mueller clarified his comments in yesterday’s Google Webmaster Office Hours about title tags and how critical they actually are to a page.
As a side comment I said titles aren’t the most critical ranking factor anymore, and suddenly, everyone got excited and said “oh my gosh, titles ARE important!” They are important for SEO and they are used as a ranking factor. Of course, they are definitely used as a ranking factor. But it’s not something where I’d say the time you spent on tweaking the titles is really the best use of your time.
So that’s something where if you are focusing only on titles as an SEO, if your SEO agency work is essentially going to other people’s sites and saying “Oh, we will strip out all titles and rewrite them to include all of the relevant keywords and you will rank ten places higher,” that’s not going to happen.
So kind of just as a background information.
When this was originally talked about on Facebook, Simon Heseltine made a great analogy on the importance of title tags. “The title is the equivalent of saying that ‘Petroleum is not a critical requirement for a car to function’ because someone at Ford said that having a working engine is the most critical requirement.”
So yes, title tags do play a role in ranking in Google, but yes, there are things that are more important that working on those things would likely be a better use of your time.
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