WordPress SEO by Yoast Tutorial: How to Supercharge Your Titles

WordPress SEO by Yoast tutorial: 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 developed by Joost de Valk and his team 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 be concentrating on the “Home” and the “Post Types” tabs for this phenomenal plugin and site titles.

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.”

The title tag is the single most important on page element… #SEO ~ Eric Enge @stonetempleClick To Tweet

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 at 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

  • How to set up WordPress SEO by Yoast titles
  • How to optimize your titles for organic SEO
  • Troubleshooting duplicate titles in WordPress SEO by Yoast

A title of a web page along with the rich snippet (often the META description) is the first thing that users see in Google’s search results.
Google search result for WordPress SEO
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:

  • Search engines give more weight to words at the beginning of a title.
  • 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:

Example of WordPress SEO by Yoast initial title setting

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 a fixed width. It is important to note that although there is “no magic number”, titles are limited to approximately 50-60 characters or as many characters as will fit into a 512-pixel width dimension.

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 50-60 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 with the WordPress SEO by Yoast title tool. You can see that the full title, WordPress SEO by Yoast Tutorial: How to Supercharge Your Titles, has been cut off.

Example of a title that is too long

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

Example of a title in WordPress SEO by Yoast

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.

Example of the duplicate META title 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.

How to 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.

Example of editing your theme's header META title

Replace the script that is between the opening and closing title tags with the PHP function:

<?php wp_title(”); ?>
The result will be: <title><?php wp_title(”); ?></title>

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.


There are a number of contributing factors that make up great titles to 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.

Your Turn

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?

You may also like to read:

Fascinated with the growing potential and power of the Internet, Robin founded R & R Web Design LLC in the Chicago area in 2000. As creative director, she is passionate about helping others reach their Internet objectives through a strategic online presence with results driven custom web design, ethical SEO, and social media marketing.

4 comments on “WordPress SEO by Yoast Tutorial: How to Supercharge Your Titles
  1. Tina says:

    I use Yoast on the 2 websites that I work with. I am not certain that it has made any difference for us because our web designer is still working on SEO that I do’t understand. I find Yoast to be a lot of work for me as I add products to our very large websites (we are a flower shop and have over 450 different products from which to choose, and each one has it’s own page with Yoast). Finding appropriate headings and titles is a challenge for me because I want to be creative and fun but Google is neither. Frankly I’m scared silly to work with anything that starts or ends with <> because it’s a language that I don’t understand. I am going to see if I can decipher this blog, as well the your previous blogs, to determine if there is anything I should be doing with Yoast to help me. Thank you for the information and education.

    • Hi Tina,
      You are very welcome. I do hope that both WordPress SEO by Yoast tutorials will help. Initially setting up the META titles and description on each page on a large website can be an overwhelming task. It is well worth your effort. You may not see immediate results, but it should help in the long run as Google re-indexes each of the pages.

      Please let me know if you have any questions or if I can be of any help.

  2. Shella Gardezi says:

    I’ve been using Yoast on my website. I think it’s great as a checklist to making sure that all your content is being found for the right keywords. As a writer you don’t necessarily want to be thinking about SEO as you’re writing, so titles and descriptions are really important.

    • Hi Shella,
      Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read this article and to comment. I agree. WordPress SEO by Yoast is a great tool to help organically optimize content. I can see how it would definitely help you as a writer.