- They Can Lead to Lower Rankings
- They Can Lead to a Bad User Experience
- Semrush’s Site Audit
- Google’s ‘Site’ Search Operator
- Be Descriptive
- Don’t Exceed the Character Limit
- Incorporate Long-Tail Keyword Variations
- Use the Target Keyword at the Beginning
- Avoid Keyword Stuffing
- Multi-Regional Sites
- Multi-Page Product Sections
Duplicate title tags occur when multiple pages on your site use the same copy in the title tag (the page title that often appears in search results).
Let’s say a site has three separate pages that all use “Best Vegan Health Supplements | Vitamin Store” for the title tag:
- Product page: vitaminstore.com/vegan
- Blog post: vitaminstore.com/blog/most-important-vegan-health-supplements
- Landing page: vitaminstore.com/best-vegan-supplements
There’s a good chance these pages are all focused on the same primary subject. Meaning the content on each page is centered on the same topic.
This makes it trickier for search engines like Google to decide which page is most relevant to users searching a related keyword. And it’s possible that none of those pages will appear in search results.
There are some instances when having duplicate title tags is unavoidable. Like for multi-regional websites that have similar content intended for multiple audiences. (More on this later.)
In most cases, duplicate title tags are problematic. Here’s why:
They Can Lead to Lower Rankings
Duplicate title tags can make it challenging for search engines to understand how the content on different pages is unique. So, it’s possible that only one (or none) of your pages will appear in search results.
And if you do rank in search results, it’s possible that you’ll rank lower than if you avoided having duplicate title tags in the first place.
Why does this matter?
Because content that ranks higher tends to have a higher click-through rate (CTR)—meaning a higher percentage of clicks through to your website. And research shows this:
Source: Google CTR Stats
These clicks translate to more traffic. And can even lead to more conversions and revenue.
Another issue related to how duplicate title tags affect your rankings:
You’ll have less control over which result Google shows if your content does appear on the search engine results page (SERP).
So, it may rank a page with outdated content when there’s an updated version available. Or a page you created for a specific use case that doesn’t apply to your larger audience.
They Can Lead to a Bad User Experience
Having multiple pages with the same title tag can confuse users. Just look at these results:
Determining which result to click on will be difficult for most users.
So what happens when searchers click through to content that’s misaligned with their query?
It creates a poor user experience (UX). Which can lead to lower:
- Time on page
- Engagement in general
These speak to relevance and user experience, which Google pays attention to for ranking results.
Semrush’s Site Audit
You can find and fix duplicate title tags with Semrush’s Site Audit.
It runs a comprehensive SEO analysis of your website. And finds technical SEO issues like broken links, slow load times, and duplicate title tags.
Open the tool, follow the Site Audit configuration instructions, and select “Start Site Audit.”
Once the audit is done, you’ll be taken to the “Overview” report. Which gives you a high-level look at your site’s overall SEO health.
And it divides SEO issues it detects into three categories:
- Errors: High-severity issues
- Warnings: Medium-severity issues
- Notices: Low-severity alerts that are worth fixing
Click on the “Errors” module. And you’ll get to the “Issues” report, which will be filtered to show all the errors on your site.
In the search bar, enter “duplicate title tags.”
Then, select the “# issues with duplicate title tags” issue to reveal the list of affected URLs. And you’ll see a list of the URLs grouped by ones that share the same title tag.
You can start fixing them by crafting unique, descriptive title tags for each page. Or implementing an appropriate meta tag. (We’ll cover both of these in more detail later.)
You can export the list with the “Export” option.
Or you can send the list directly to your marketing project management tool with the “Send to…” feature.
From there, you can address duplicate title tags one at a time. And track your progress.
Google’s ‘Site’ Search Operator
Another way to identify duplicate title tags that need fixing is to use Google’s “site:” search operator.
It can be a useful tool if you already suspect a group of URLs might have similar or duplicate title tags.
Simply enter this formula into Google search: site:yourdomain.com “your suspected duplicate title.”
You’ll easily be able to see multiple title links have the same or nearly the same title tag.
Let’s say you work at Asos, an online fashion company with thousands of pages about different products. And you want to look for potential duplicates for the query “men’s casual shoes.”
You might see something like this:
As you can see, each result has a distinct title tag. This means Asos has done a good job of avoiding duplicates.
Note that you’ll need to repeat this process for any title tags you suspect have been duplicated.
If you come across any duplicates, you’ll likely need to make some changes. To optimize your title tags in these cases, determine which page is the best fit for the title tag in question.
Then, use the best practices below to determine how to fix duplicate title tags.
As Google mentions in its information on best practices for influencing title links, title tags are the “primary piece of information” searchers use to decide which result is relevant to them.
But how do you ensure every title tag is optimized for humans and search engines?
Follow these guidelines:
Your title tag should give users and search engines a clear snapshot of what your content is about.
So, avoid generic title tags that offer little value to searchers.
Instead of using a vague title tag, try to use one that describes the content in as much detail as possible. Like this:
Plus, descriptive title tags offer these benefits:
- Improved ability to target specific audiences: A title tag like “Healthy Vegan Breakfast Recipes | ABC Health Store” attracts a completely different audience than “High-Protein, Meat-Free Recipes | ABC Health Store”
- Higher chance of ranking for long-tail keywords: Using descriptive titles can help you rank for less competitive keywords that your competitors may overlook
Don’t Exceed the Character Limit
Search engines may rewrite or truncate lengthy titles. Like this:
This could negatively affect your search traffic.
If the edited version isn’t compelling, fewer people will click on your organic result to visit your page.
So, what length should your title tags be?
It’s best to keep your title tags to 60 characters or fewer. Anything lengthier is too long for mobile devices.
You can monitor the character length of your title tags in Google Sheets with the “LEN” function. It shows you the number of characters for a specific cell or string. And it’s simple to use:
1. Click on the cell where you want to display the character count
2. Type “=LEN” and reference your cell inside the parentheses
3. Hit enter (or return), and you’ll now see your title tag’s character count
Incorporate Long-Tail Keyword Variations
Long-tail keywords are phrases that are highly specific (and often longer) than other keywords. Adding long-tail keywords to title tags can help ensure they’re all distinct.
Plus, using them can benefit your rankings and traffic. Because they aren’t typically as competitive, meaning you stand a good chance of appearing high in their search results.
Let’s say you have an ecommerce store that sells vegan health supplements. And your store has multiple flavors and types of protein powders.
If all your title tags on those product pages are “Vegan Protein Powder | ABC Health Store,” you’re missing out on ranking for long-tail keyword variations like:
- “vegan vanilla protein powder”
- “vegan chocolate protein powder”
- “vegan gluten free protein powder”
You can find long-tail variations like this using the Keyword Magic Tool.
Enter a seed keyword (a broad term related to your business) and click “Search.”
You’ll then see a long list of related keywords.
Now, you can apply a filter to only show keywords you have a reasonable chance of ranking for.
Click the “KD %” drop-down menu and set a custom range from 0 to 49. And click “Apply.”
You’ll now see some more specific terms. And you can choose ones that align with your offerings to create title tags for more specific product pages.
Use the Target Keyword at the Beginning
Putting your main keyword at the beginning of your title tag gives users and search engines instant clarity about your page’s content.
It can also give you a slight competitive advantage over competing title links on SERPs.
Because if the results include title tags that don’t include the keyword at the beginning, your page can appear more relevant to users.
Avoid Keyword Stuffing
Keyword stuffing is an outdated SEO tactic that overloads content with keywords in an attempt to manipulate rankings.
A common example is when the same primary or secondary keyword phrases are repeated in an unnatural way.
Consider a title tag like: “New Shoes, Cheap Shoes, Best New Shoes, New Cheap Shoes.”
This is a classic example of keyword stuffing.
The title is crammed with variations of the primary keyword “new shoes” and the secondary keyword “cheap shoes.”
Keyword stuffing—whether it’s in the body copy or on a title tag—violates Google’s spam policies.
It makes it harder for both search engines and people to understand what your page is about. And may result in penalties from search engines.
You’ll encounter situations where using the same title tag makes sense.
Here are a few of the most common instances:
Multi-regional sites would likely have the same title tag for these URLs (or a very similar one):
- Primary URL: vitaminstore.com/vegan
- Regional URL (U.K.): uk.vitaminstore.com/vegan
In this case, implementing hreflang attributes may be an effective solution.
An hreflang tag is an element (typically included in your HTML) that tells search engines which page should be shown to visitors based on their language (indicated by the first two letters following hreflang=”) and location (indicated by the second two letters following hreflang=”).
You should use the hreflang attribute on every version of the page. And it should always reference all alternate versions.
Below is the example code you would implement on each page we mentioned above:
<link rel="alternate" href="https://vitaminstore.com/vegan" hreflang="en-us" />
<link rel="alternate" href="https://uk.vitaminstore.com/vegan" hreflang="en-gb" />
Further reading: International SEO: Best Practices for Global Online Success
Multi-Page Product Sections
Sites that have multi-page product sections may have the same title tags (and similar content) for these URLs:
- Page 1 (primary page): vitaminstore.com/vegan
- Page 2: vitaminstore.com/vegan/?page=2
- Page 3: vitaminstore.com/vegan/?page=3
Proper implementation of canonical tags (HTML snippets that reflect the main version of a page) will inform search engines of which URL version to prioritize.
On each page (including the primary one), you would add a canonical tag pointing to the main category page.
In the example above, each page would feature this code in its HTML:
<link rel="canonical" href="http://vitaminstore.com/vegan" />
This tells Google that the main page to be indexed is “https://vitaminstore.com/vegan.”
Finding and fixing duplicate title tags can be a powerful way to improve your SEO.
These tiny bits of copy play a pivotal role in how search engines treat your content. And how potential visitors judge the relevance of your pages.
But domains come in all shapes and sizes. And manually finding duplicate title tags across larger sites is a time-consuming and not-always-accurate process.
Thankfully, you can use the Site Audit tool to quickly detect and remedy this issue. Try it for free today.