WordPress Title Tags

Questions about WordPress title tags and SEO  arrived in our Help Desk email this week. The writer expressed confusion about post titles, H1 tags and search engine optimization.

To me it seems as if there is some ambiguity in the use of the word “title” in SEO within WordPress.

In a WordPress site when you place a title into the Initial Post/Page Title Area it shows up in HTML asxxxxxxx, lets refer to this as the “Internal Title Tag.”

As part of the SEO settings plugin there is an area to specify “Custom Document Title” that shows up as the Title in the search engine results page (SERP) and as HTML which I will refer to as the “Meta Title Tag.”

Please address the following issues:

  1. As far as SEO goes, I would assume that Meta Title Tag is of much higher importance? Is the Internal Title Tag of some/any importance in SEO?
  2. WordPress inserts the Internal Title Tag at the top of the post/page. If the Internal Title Tag has little SEO value; why not leave it blank and use a H1 as the first line of post/page which then allows article to have relevant title with SEO value as H1.  Note that if you use Internal Tile Tag and H1 as first post/page title then the viewer will see a duplicate line.

Your assumption about post titles is incorrect.

The SEO plugin setting for “Custom Document Title” defines what appears in the search engine results page (SERP) and the browser address bar. The post title determines what is wrapped in an H1 tag.

Let’s look at the Genesis SEO settings for the home page first.

The settings are self-explanatory. What you may have overlooked is this statement:


tag is, arguably, the second most important SEO tag in the document source.

Page title is the most important SEO element.

Title settings appear in the header. Here is a screen shot from the source code of a home page.

Note how the title is optimized with keywords. We believe do-it-yourself professionals are looking for a WordPress coach, consultant, or trainer in the Atlanta area.

What about the H1 tag?

Genesis theme settings stipulate the title is wrapped in an H1 tag as shown in the following screen shot.

Explore the custom SEO plugin settings for pages and posts.

SEO plugins give you flexibility to publish two titles—perhaps a catchy headline to capture the reader’s attention—and something optimized (keyword rich) as the custom document title.

The following two screen shots are an example.

From the post editor:
From Google:

Take look at the source code of the post.

You can see the custom SEO plugin settings determine what appears in the SERP.

And, the H1 tag wraps the post title.

If your strategy is to optimize for SEO, put a keyword rich title in your post and stop placing H1 text within the post.

Recommended SEO plugin for WordPress: WordPress SEO by Yoast

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