Backlinks, design, discounts… mean nothing if the potential client never visits your page! Here is a guide to use meta titles and meta descriptions to your advantage.
Search engines aim to cater to users’ queries by providing the most relevant content for every search query.
With so many web pages on the Internet, it’s quite a massive task. That is why search engines, such as Google, use a set of metrics to make sure they let the right pages rank.
Metadata is one of the key factors when it comes to web pages rankings. Search engines rely on metadata since it is supposed to reflect what a web page is about.
What exactly is metadata? In a nutshell, metadata is the HTML information used to guide both search engines and users to understand what a website is about. It consists of a title (<title>) tag, a meta description and a meta keywords tag.
For a business owner, it is better when metadata is under control of their content manager or marketing specialist. What happens if no one cares to fill out the metadata?
Google will automatically resort to one of these actions:
- Use the very first sentence of the page as meta description, and title of the page as meta title;
- Alternatively, an ignored meta description can be filled with a random piece of content from the page.
Isn’t it a good decision to control your metadata and, thus, search console queries & organic visits? You can decide what a search engine should focus on. Check the following metadata recommendations to ensure that you get the most out of it.
Tip 1: Define the Objective
Taking control of your website’s metadata is one of the easiest ways to boost the relevancy of and the potential traffic to your web pages.
What are meta descriptions?
A meta description is a short piece of text that sums up the content on a web page. In short, meta descriptions generate click-throughs from search engines. This data looks something like this in HTML code:
<meta name=”description” content=”A page’s description, usually one or two sentences.”/>
These descriptions should always be written in an actionable tone and include a call-to-action such as “book now”, “call us”, etc.). You want people to click on your link when they read this piece of text.
What is a meta title or title tag?
Meta titles consist of a descriptive piece of text that acts as a title for the content. This text will appear as a link to your content on search engines. It is the “title” of the web page people click on. For meta titles, always remember to use a divider for readability! It can look something like this:
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Moz states about title tags: “Title tags are displayed on search engine results pages (SERPs) as the clickable headline for a given result, and are important for usability, SEO, and social sharing.”
What a meta title and meta description look like on a search page.
Tip 2: Pick the Right Keywords & Capitalize
When search engines crawl your pages, they identify the keywords. That is why Google created Google Search Console, previously known as Google Webmaster Tools. This free tool helps marketers and content managers to optimize their texts so that searchers can find the needed landing pages.
Not sure how to use Google Search Console? The Daily Egg offers steps on how to make use of Google Search Console. Alternatively, many content managers decide to use Ahrefs for keyword search since it also offers content suggestions and parent topics.
When optimizing, it is advised to put important SEO keywords at the beginning. Since it is the most crucial aspect, make sure you add your keywords at the beginning of your meta titles and meta descriptions. Here’s an example of a ‘flights to japan’ query:
Capitalization is not necessary but often required. All words except coordinating conjunctions, prepositions, and articles are to be capitalized.
Tip 3: Limit the Character Length
Meta descriptions, meta titles and all other metadata have character limits. Meta descriptions are usually no longer than 160 characters, while meta titles have a limit of 60 to 70 characters.
Tip 4: Unique Meta for Each Page
The metadata of each page tells search engines which page should be displayed in a specific search. Do not use the same commercial keywords for each page even if your website is a selling one. In other words, if your metadata is correct for every web page, and people are searching for your services, your services page should appear in the search results. The same goes for About and Contact pages.
Don’t duplicate metadata and don’t just change a word or two. Make sure your metadata is unique for each page. If you already have a dozen of pages, Alexa’s SEO Audit Tool might come in handy to define duplicate meta tags – free trial is available.
If you don’t formulate your meta titles or meta descriptions, search engines will create their own, and they may not be the optimum for your purposes! So, be sure always to have metadata for all the pages you want to rank.
Tip 5: LSI keywords & Phrasal Matches
Latent semantic indexing (LSI) is an element that search engines use to discover how a specific keyword and the rest of the content work together to mean the same thing. In other words, the search engine will scan the content where the keyword was identified to see how complimentary keywords were used. Use your main keyword (keyword tag) and an LSI keyword phrase in your description and search engines will prioritise your pages.
To find LSI keywords, you can use Google Autocomplete, related searches in Google or search suggestions in Ahrefs. Another good advice is to use abbreviations and their full equivalents, as well as synonymous words.
Tip 6: Use Numbers / Statistics / Discounts
Can you use numbers characters in your metadata? Yes, you can, and it will attract searchers to your page. Another question is if search engines want metadata in lower or upper case. Search engines can read both, so it is up to you.
The Search Engine Journal also mentions that “Headlines with numbers generate 73% more social shares and engagement. Using numbers in meta descriptions makes sense as well. Not only numbers but any characters other than letters (e.g. symbols, special characters, emojis, etc.) can help drive customers to your web pages”.
Tip 7: Brand / Product Name
It’s a good practice to add your brand or business’s name to metadata fields. Yes, it will promote your business and develop your company’s credibility. However, it might seem like too much advertising for a user and, in some cases (too long brand name/too long main keyword), will play against your expectations. Be aware of the most common mistakes in corporate storytelling.
Tip 8: Use Special Characters (Optional)
What are alternative attributes and miscellaneous tags? Special characters can be used to attract more visitors and make your website seem more trustworthy. While they are less important than meta titles and meta descriptions, it is still beneficial to use stars, thumbs up marks, and other relevant symbols.
Tip 9: Mention Videos / Infographics (Optional)
One way to attract the visitors is to mention infographics, quizzes, polls or videos in your metadata. If your landing page has a video, it is likely to have 80% increased conversion rate.
When you use these types of relevant content, search engines will prioritise your pages. Another useful tip is to add video content to your pages and mention that in your metadata.
Remember that you always need to write for humans and not just for search engines!
Yes, you want search engines to find your pages and make you rank, but always remember that you are still writing for humans and not only for Google’s crawl robots! This means that you must use keywords effectively in your metadata. Never stuff keywords, but instead make sure that your content reads well.
Good Examples of Metadata Optimization
If you stick to the guidelines of metadata optimization, formulating meta titles and descriptions is not a difficult task. These meta titles and meta descriptions might serve you as good samples:
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Sweetaholic Bakery in Lisbon, Portugal
Title: What to Eat in Portugal: a Guide to Portuguese Pastries
Description: I’m an incorrigible sweetaholic and Lisbon with all those typical Portuguese pastries was heaven for me Wondering what to eat in Portugal Read on!
Artist agency for women in Los Angeles, California, USA
Title: Bella Agency Los Angeles
Description: Bella Agency is a modeling agency in New York, specializing in representing talent for commercial and fashion print advertising Bella represents men and women of all ethnicities, teens through adults.
Regularly check your metadata and rewrite it if needed. Sometimes your page’s info, and perhaps even the keyword, will change or be updated. Making sure your metadata is correct and relevant is key in helping you to rank for the right searches.
Track Results: A/B testing, GSC, Moz & More
It’s always crucial to AB test and sees what works for your website. AB testing requires you to try different variations of the same technique to see what works best for you. You can try different metadata and see what brings you the most traffic.
Remember to track all the results. You can easily do this with platforms such as:
- Google Search Console
- Five Second Test
These valuable platforms will tell you how your pages are ranking in line with your SEO endeavours and what you can improve. If none of the above-mentioned tools fits you, see a complete list of the best A/B testing tools.
SEO and metadata techniques and guidelines are always changing, so still, make sure that you are aware of any updates or changes.
There is no doubt that metadata is vital for successful SEO campaign. Do not ignore these aspects to control what search engines pick up about your web pages.
Conclusion: How to Optimize Meta Description and Meta Title?
Even if you know just a little bit about SEO, you can now make a better impression about your website by complying with both search engine and human criteria. One should always keep in mind the following aspects of meta title and meta description optimization:
- Use keywords relevant to your on-page content
- Find more keyword combinations: abbreviations, LSI keywords, phrasal matches from Google, keywords from parent topics etc.
- Resort to numbers, statistics, and special characters but only if they are true and relevant
- Be careful about your brand name and commercial intents: give objective arguments and neutral product descriptions over direct advertising
- Track your results, control what users look for from month to month, rewrite metadata regularly.
This will help the search engines to pick up your pages for that specific keyword and will increase your chances to rank, should people search for these words. Taking control of your website’s metadata is one of the easiest ways to boost the potential traffic and increase conversion rates.