Thanks to platforms like WordPress, many people out there are using the link TITLE attribute incorrectly. By default, WordPress and other commonly used content management systems duplicate the post title link in the link TITLE attribute. As widespread as this practice has become, it’s time to put an end to it.
What is the Link TITLE Attribute?
Rather than duplication of your anchor text, the link TITLE attribute is intended as additional information to expand on the meaning of your link. The anchor text names your link, while the title text describes it to provide more information about where clicking the link will send the user.
The link TITLE attribute carries no bearing on search engines, as is the general consensus from experienced SEOs. Yes, things change all the time when it comes to how search engines determine rank – so this could change at any given moment. That’s why it’s important to clear up this common misconception, and honestly annoying practice.
Are There Times When Not Using a Link TITLE Attribute is Okay?
Yes! You should not use it when you’re simply duplicating your anchor text. If the title tag cannot provide more information about what the link is, you don’t need it. That is, if the link is obvious based on its anchor text and the surrounding context, it’s unnecessary to use the TITLE attribute. Why? From a usability perspective, this means users will be seeing the same thing twice. But, there is an exception to this rule as sometimes design limitations prevent the entire text link from being shown. Because most browsers display the full TITLE attribute when you hover over a link, it can be useful to help finish out what can’t be seen on the link itself.
When to Use the Link TITLE Attribute
Use it when your anchor text is “click here” or something similar and provides no guidance as to where the link will actually take the user.
Don’t stress title attributes too much because there are many screen readers out there that do not render it. Instead, rely on your surrounding text or anchor text to provide the context and explain the link for those users.
Focus on using the TITLE attribute for your users rather than search engines – and don’t use the same text as your anchor text, as this can negatively impact usability. Blind users will end up hearing the same text twice in this case.
Here’s what Google has to say about the TITLE attribute:
“The “title” attribute is a bit different: it “offers advisory information about the element for which it is set.” As the Googlebot does not see the images directly, we generally concentrate on the information provided in the “alt” attribute. Feel free to supplement the “alt” attribute with “title” and other attributes if they provide value to your users!”
And here’s Bing’s take on the matter:
“Think of the anchor text as your primary description of the linked page. But if you do inline linking within the paragraphs of your body text, you need to maintain the natural, logical flow of the language in the paragraph, which can limit your link text description. As such, you can use the title attribute to add additional keyword information about the linked page without adversely affecting the readability of the text for the end user.”
Want to know if you’re using the TITLE attribute when you shouldn’t be, or if you’ve duplicated your anchor text? We’ll tell you as part of our free SEO audit.