While the word out on meta titles and meta descriptions from Google is that they won’t magically propel your website to the top of the SEO charts; these two elements can improve click-through rate and entice people to choose your link instead of your competitors’. So why do site owners shove meta titles and descriptions onto the back burner?
Both indicate to search engines and users what your site is about. It describes the content on each page of your website and explains how it relates to a user’s search query. And, when used properly, they can act as a tool to draw potential customers to your website through your advertising in the search engine results.
If you don’t know what meta titles and meta descriptions are, why they’re important and how to use them to get more click-throughs then continue reading to learn more.
Let’s get started.
What is a Meta Title?
The meta title refers to the title of an HTML document that is displayed both in Search Engine result snippets as well as the page’s tab in browsers. Alternative names are “title tag” or “page title”.
See an example below:
Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Company Name
When Writing Meta Title's
- The title should be highly relevant to the content that can be found on that specific page.
- Important keywords and phrases should be placed close to the front of the title tag so they catch the eye.
- Avoid keyword stuffing and write in a way your consumers would naturally read it.
- Avoid duplication. Each page has a different topic so it needs to have a unique title.
- Potentially include your brand name at the end of the title tag if there’s still space, but focus on getting your message across first.
- Try to keep it within the range of 60 and 64 characters or as many characters as you can fit into a 512-pixel display. If the title tag is longer than that, it’ll get cut off and show an ellipsis “….”.
- It should be compelling. Your title tag should be appealing enough to entice visitors to want to click to find out more about what you have to offer.
What is a Meta Description?
The meta description is an HTML attribute that provides a summary of a web page. Search engines such as Google often display the meta description in search results, which can influence click-through rates.
See an example below:
<head> <meta name=”description”
content=”This is an example of a meta description.
This will often show up in search results.”></head>
A page’s meta description should intelligently (be natural, active, non-spammy way) employ the keywords that page is targeting, but also create a compelling description that a searcher will want to click. It should be directly relevant to the page it describes, and unique from the descriptions for other pages.
When Writing Meta Description's
- Have unique descriptions for every page on your site.
- Create a compelling description using relevant keywords. Make sure the searcher will get exactly what’s described.
- Inspire curiosity. Provide just enough information to entice with an explanation and tease without giving it all away.
- Include a call to action within your meta description to give your reader a clear instruction of what action to take and what’s in it for them.
- Keep your meta descriptions between 150 and 154 characters. If they’re too long, search engines will cut off the extra characters.
TIP: Don't include double quotation marks
Any time quotation marks are used in the HTML of a meta description, Google cuts off that description at the quotation mark when it appears on a SERP. To prevent this from happening, your best bet is to remove all non-alphanumeric characters from meta descriptions. If quotation marks are important in your meta description, you can use the HTML entity rather than double quotes to prevent truncation.
How do I choose the right keywords?
The keywords or keyword phrases that you use in your meta titles and meta descriptions need to be relevant to the content on a page. So if you have a landing page where you advertise water filters, try using keywords like “whole house water filters” or “shower filters”.
There are some free keyword research tools out there, but it’s recommended that you hire a professional that specializes in Search Engine Optimisation to research and implement SEO strategies.
Meta Data Optimisation
So how can you ensure your meta titles and meta description continue to work well? Like most things related to SEO, it’s all about combing over the data and seeing what works. The easiest way to do that is to monitor click-through rates in Google Search Console and find pages with reasonable volume but low click-through rate (CTR). Optimize the metadata for these pages using the steps outline above.
Make sure you don’t neglect your metadata – constantly monitor what’s going on. But don’t make changes too often – it can take a while for any adjustment to have an impact and if you’re constantly switching things around, you won’t know if your actions have been successful.
Finally, although CTR is a useful metric it’s not the only one you should look at here. A high CTR but a low Average Time on Page could indicate that although your metadata is enticing, your webpage isn’t delivering what people want or expect. This kind of situation is indicative of clickbait and should be avoided. The aim is to entice people to visit your site, not to trick them into clicking.
If you need further inspiration as to the kind of language you should be using in your metadata, check out the AdWords ads people in your niche are running and see what kind of copy they’re willing to spend money on promoting.
TIP: Avoid having multiple duplicate Meta Titles and Descriptions.
WordPress users do we have good news for you!
Yoast is an easy to use WordPress SEO plugin. It is a powerful tool that can help you make your site as search-engine-friendly as possible and will be one of the most valuable tools on your website. Yoast SEO can be installed on any self-hosted WordPress site. It’s easily the most comprehensive SEO-related WordPress plugin you could ask for and best of all, it’s free! You do have the option to buy premium Yoast SEO extensions for some extra functionality, but its most important functions are part of the free plugin.