How to Automate SEO Title Optimization and Save 300 Hours

7min.

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How to Automate SEO Title Optimization and Save 300 Hoursd-tags
21 December 2023
Even simple tasks, like creating SEO-friendly page titles, can eat up a lot of your time, especially if your website is a big e-commerce store. Here’s an example of automating a simple task that saved nearly 300 hours of work - and rebuilt the site’s visibility.

7min.

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How much time would you need to write 1 page title? That’s basically a coffee break’s worth of effort, isn’t it? That’s right, some SEO-improving tasks take just a couple of minutes to accomplish.

Provided that your website is relatively small, of course.

The client that I’m collaborating with is far from small – it’s a large e-commerce platform with nearly 5,000 individual pages. After running an SEO audit, I noticed that the website had a whole lot of unoptimized pages, each requiring its own unique title. Some were duplicated, some lacked clarity about the page contents, and others didn’t feature any relevant keywords. Theoretically, the Development team could have resolved the issue using a rule, but in reality, they weren’t able to do so.

In this case, preparing titles for each of these pages would take lots of time. How much, exactly?

Hold on to your socks because I’m going to do some quick math.

Assuming you’re a “speedster” like the Flash from DC Comics, you will be able to create 8-15 page titles an hour (I’m talking about some serious multitasking with keyword research). The numbers start to get pretty wild.

5,000 pages ÷ 15 page titles = ~333 hours of your precious time

GIf suprised

Source: Giphy

Yep, that’s nearly 14 straight days of living, breathing, and dreaming about page titles. No sleep, no snacks – just you and your page titles, 24/7.

Naturally, you can also hire an SEO Specialist to tackle this task for you, but let’s talk turkey – that would probably be a boatload of cash for those 333 hours.

Do you know anybody who has got the time and budget for that? I assume you don’t so let me tell you this:

what if i told you mem related to process automation

source: imgflip

Indeed, in a moment I’m going to show you my workable solution to automate the page title creation for a big e-commerce website, shrinking the whole process from 300 to just sweet 5 hours.

Read on and you will learn to:

  • use a new Screaming Frog function to effortlessly extract all your page titles with just a few clicks
  • apply my own Excel formula to speed up your page title creation

How Did I Come Up With This Idea?

One of my clients is a massive e-commerce store. Their website consists of a gazillion category and subcategory pages – we’re talking here about literally a thousand individual pages to optimize.

After running an SEO audit I noticed that their content management system auto-generates page titles. Sounds great, right? The thing, however, is that the CMS pulls the titles out from a given page without considering its connection with the higher-level pages it belongs to. Where’s the problem, Wojciech?, you may ask. Simply put, such a generic page title is quite confusing for Google bots. How so?

Let me paint a picture for you.
Painting gif

source: giphy

Let’s take a big e-commerce selling clothes for example. One of their products is woolen summer dresses.

Here’s an exemplary category path:

Category Tree

This means that the CSM would take the word “Wool” and use it as the title for a page presenting woolen summer dresses. Not the brightest move, eh? It’s simply too generic: it can be used for a number of other products, such as “woolen sweaters,” “woolen coats,” and “woolen hoodies.” Not to mention some non-woolen products such as “woolen blankets,” “woolen curtains,” and “woolen plush toys.” See what I’m talking about?

Same song, different dance for the word/category “Summer” that describes a thousand different things, but nothing in particular.

So, I had to put on my thinking cap. I needed a clever solution, a quick workaround to automate page title creation and accurately convey to Google the purpose of each of my client’s pages – I wanted to avoid ambiguity.

Google disfavors ambiguity.

Besides, I preferred to spend my time on other SEO tasks that could push my client’s ranking higher. I realized that those 300 hours could be put to better use than manually creating all +5,000 page titles.

3 Possible Ways to Handle Page Title Creation for a Big E-Commerce

If you’re facing a similar problem, meaning quickly optimizing thousands of page titles, you can approach it in the following ways:

1️⃣ 👨‍💻 Get a Web Developer to help out. Despite sounding reasonable, trying to make this happen often hits a wall due to tech limitations. And even if you’re a really smart guy and figure out a way around this backend issue, you can expect a delay in the works. I assume you don’t have time to wait. The new and fully-optimized page titles need to be added to the website as soon as possible – after all, such changes need time to get indexed and start making a real impact on your ranking. Every day counts.

2️⃣ 👐 Roll up your sleeves and create page titles yourself. However, if your website is large, brace yourself for literally hundreds of hours dedicated to this one task alone. Even if you narrow this task down to just the top-priority pages, let’s say about one-third of the whole lot, you’re still bound to devote roughly 100 hours of your time to just one SEO task. And that’s a lot.

3️⃣ ⏩ Be clever and speed up the process. Automating the process is an option, but not in the same way the CMS handles it. This automation-fueled method I’ve come up with and I’m going to share with you speeds up the creation of page titles efficiently and accurately.

Here’s How You Can Speed Up Page Title Creation for Your E-commerce

Finally, here’s my authorial formula that helped me save literally hundreds of working hours on creating SEO-friendly page titles for my client.

⚠️📢 DISCLAIMER #1: While this method worked like a charm for one of my e-commerce clients, keep in mind that your website, even if it’s a big e-commerce store, might need a few tweaks to match this level of effectiveness.

⚠️📢 DISCLAIMER #2: For the sake of my client’s privacy, I’m going to use the Delante website as an example to walk you through the process.

STEP #1: Localize Data You Can Use to Generate Page Titles

To automate your page title creation, you need to have the actual words and phrases for composing the SEO-friendly page titles. To me, the breadcrumbs serve as a valuable data source – they neatly illustrate the structure the pages go through, moving from general (eg. “women’s outfits”) to more specific (eg. “woolen summer dresses”).

While this approach made sense to me, finding the right words and phrases might require taking a different route for other websites. Therefore, I encourage you to do a thoughtful analysis and devise your own smart approach to data extraction. Basically, this is the core of your success.

Taking Delante’s official website as an example, the breadcrumb menu clearly indicates our (ie. the user) location. Similarly, a well-designed e-commerce website would lead users through the entire path they’ve gone through in a specific category to find a given product.

Breadcrumbs example on Delante website

The green horizontal line helps you spot the words that can be used to create your page titles almost entirely automatically. Using them, you significantly boost the likelihood of your page titles accurately reflecting the content of each page, which will get you more ranking points from Google.

STEP #2: Pull out and Group the Data

Now that you’ve located the spot where the key phrases are, it’s time to pull out and organize them for page title creation.

The good news is that you don’t need to click through all your pages separately just to get the phrases from breadcrumbs. Instead, fire up Screaming Frog. The latest version of this tool comes with the “Extraction” option, which conveniently does exactly that for you.

1️⃣ Click Configuration → Custom → Custom Extraction

Using screaming frog to extract category names

2️⃣ Enter your website URL.

3️⃣ Select the element that you want to extract – in this case, this is breadcrumbs.

4️⃣ From the Extraction panel (right sidebar), select Extract text.

Screaming From category names extraction process

Note: Apart from the text, Screaming Frog will also extract the surrounding HTML tags but you can get rid of them easily later in the spreadsheet.

5️⃣ Use the Upload option to provide Screaming Frog with all the pages you want to extract the data from (tip: they are conveniently listed in your sitemap).

Note: The formula works for all pages built on the same template.

STEP #3: Transfer and Organize the Extracted Data Using My Formula

1️⃣ Transfer the data to a spreadsheet, remove HTML tags, and group them into columns:

Column 1: URL address
Column 2: Category level 1
Column 3: Category level 2
Column 4: Category level 3
Column 5: Global ending
Column 6: Title

In my case, the columns contain the following information:

Column 1: a page URL address
Column 2: type of clothing, eg., dresses
Column 3: adjective describing the fabric they are made of or the sex they are meant for Column 4: adjective describing the season a given piece of clothing is meant for, or the fabric they are made of
Column 5: a vertical slash followed by my brand name
Column 6: a new page title

Below is the visual representation of step #3:

Managing extraction results in sheets

However, if you were to follow the method the CMS uses to generate page titles, you’d end up with titles such as:
“Summer | Your Brand”
“Wool | Your Brand”
“Trousers | Your Brand”
“Linen | Your Brand”

Again, a page title like “summer” or “wool” is too vague and too broad. That’s why there’s a high likelihood that Google bots will have problems with matching a given page with the right keyword. Besides, such a solution increases the risk of duplication.

Now, can you see why such page titles don’t help you rank higher?

2️⃣ Use the below formula to get the page titles created automatically:

TEXTJOIN(delimiter, ignore_empty, text1, [text2, …])

Use the sequence you want the page titles to be created in. For example, I used “Category lvl3” in “text1”.

Your task now is to arrange the words, particularly adjectives and nouns, to make them clearly describe what each of your pages is about.

Turning category names into titles sheets screen 1

3️⃣ Apply the formula to the remaining cells.

Turning category names into titles screen 2

Your page titles are now almost ready.

STEP #4: Scan the Page Titles

It’s crucial to note that while this automated method is a time-saver, it might not always produce perfect page titles. Bear in mind that there could be instances where a title seems off. That’s when you copy and paste value only into the cell and make manual tweaks.

Still, scanning through the page titles to verify them is a breeze compared to coming up with all titles all by yourself.

TIP 1️⃣: To simplify the verification process, you can use the session numbers and clicks from Google Search Console – simply add this information to the spreadsheet. This way, you can focus your attention on pages generating the most traffic, adjusting titles manually if needed. For less popular pages, a quick check of whether a page title makes sense should suffice.

TIP 2️⃣: While having all the data grouped nicely in the spreadsheet, I advise you to go through category names too. Have you spotted one that would use a bit of rewriting or paraphrasing? Go for it straight away.

STEP #5: Implement Your New SEO-Friendly Page Titles

Finally, you need to get the old page titles replaced with the new ones. You can do this yourself or ask an SEO Specialist, Web Developer, or Webmaster that you work with to do it.

Summary: Cutting Over 300+ Working Hours from Your SEO To-Do List

Even simple tasks, like creating SEO-friendly page titles, can eat up a lot of your time, especially if your website is a big e-commerce store.

Doing things manually when you can use the computing power of your laptop seems to be an unwise thing to do. After all, there are a dozen other things you can do to improve your website visibility and reach.

So, now you know how to handle one of such tasks – creating SEO-friendly page titles. Go ahead and use my formula freely.

Talking about making life simpler and using clever tricks for a better web ranking, there is one thing that I want you to realize. If you happen to have some issues with your website, be it slow indexing, low conversion rate, or being unsure whether your GA4 is set up correctly, know we’re here to help. Remember that you don’t need to go full-SEO if you’re not into this idea. Just drop us a message if there’s a specific part of your website you want to improve for a better ranking.

Author
Wojciech Urban SEO R&D Specialist
Author
Wojciech Urban

SEO R&D Specialist

R&D specialist in SEO and web analytics. He feels most comfortable in the area of technical SEO, and his main task is to ensure that websites are optimized for search engines and achieve high rankings in search results.

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Awards

Award - Deloitte 2021 Award - European eCommerce Awards 2022 Award - European Search Awards 2022 Award - Global Agency Awards 2022 Award - IPMA Award - US Search Awards 2021

SEO SEM Agency based in Europe