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How to write effective title tags and meta descriptions for SEO

So you’ve been asked to update your website and make it more “search engine friendly” to be found easier online. All you have to do is write some content that is keyword rich, update the meta tags and then Google’s algorithm will show you higher on SERPs (search engine results pages).

Easy Right?

Well hopefully after reading this article things will be a lot clearer - I’ll be explaining what Meta Tags (title tags and meta descriptions) are and how to write them for your content to be found more easily online and increase the number of visitors to your website.

What Are Meta Tags?

Meta tags are elements of code (HTML) on your website that provide information about a web page for search engines and people coming to your site. Meta tags should be optimised to highlight your most important content and make your website stand out in search engine results pages (SERPs).

There are a number of different types of meta tags which all perform differing roles. Today I’m going to focus on what we believe are the two most important optimisations to get your site ranking higher in search engine results and to get your website more visitors - the Title Tag and Meta Description.

What is a Title Tag?

Title tags do exactly what they say they are going to do - they specify the title of the web page when it’s shown on search engine results pages (SERPs). Title tags play a major role in helping search engines understand what your page is about, and are the first impression that many people will have about your page. It is therefore important to make sure your title tags are an accurate and concise description of a page's content. Title tags are displayed as the clickable headline for a given result, and are important for usability, SEO, and social sharing.

Example of meta data in search engines

How do I write a good Title Tag?

Title Tag Length - To create a good first impression (for both search engines and website visitors alike) it’s important that your title tags are as clear and descriptive as possible while keeping within the character limit (50 - 60 characters). Title tags that are longer than this risk being cut off in search results on some devices.

Keyword Optimisation - Keywords are important to use in your title tags but not at the expense of clarity and context about your page. Put your keywords first where possible but ensure they are natural and written in a way that puts your website visitors first.

Brand Name - It is also important for search engine optimisation (SEO) that you include your brand name in the title tags of your pages (even if this means going over a character limit and the name gets cut off).

Current Industry best practice for title tag format is:
Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Brand Name

It is also very important not to duplicate title tags on your website. Each page must have its own unique title tag or your site may be penalised in search engine results.

What is a Meta Description?

The meta descriptions (similar to title tags) are elements of HTML code that provide a brief summary of a web page. If the title tag is at the top of a search engine result, the meta description is the body of text at the bottom. Most search engines will display the meta description in search results, which makes it an important factor when influencing click through rates and the number of visitors to your site.

Meta Description Example

How to write a Meta Description?

As an important factor in influencing click through rates and driving people to your site, it is imperative to get your meta descriptions right. They should be written, above all else, in a way that will entice people to find out more and to click on your page.

Meta descriptions should contain keywords that relate to your page, however they should be written in a natural voice and in a non-spammy way. Your main objective when writing meta descriptions is that they create a compelling description that a searcher will want to click. The description should be directly relevant to the page it is describing, and must be unique from the descriptions for other pages.

Meta descriptions can be any length but it is important to take into consideration that Google normally shortens snippets to 150 - 160 characters. Meta descriptions should be long enough to provide sufficient information so we’d recommend they be no shorter than 75 characters. The most important thing is that your content within the description will make someone want to click and go to your page for more information.

If meta descriptions are seen as a conversion tool and influence the number of people clicking on your site, then it is important they contain calls to action. Include phrases such as “click here” or “Learn more by clicking here” in your descriptions. Obviously the content on your pages will determine the best calls to action to use ie. “Watch the video now” or “Download the free ebook”.

Meta descriptions are a major part of your overall website and should therefore be treated as such. The sooner you learn how to craft a good meta description, the sooner you will see an increase in website traffic from people who are highly engaged in the content that your site provides.

To sum it all up

So, while it may sound like a huge undertaking to improve the SEO of your site, hopefully armed with this new knowledge you can easily improve your visibility online. Making small improvements to your site won’t take you too much time once you know how, yet can have a major impact on your website performance into the future.

If you would like to discuss how our team of SEO experts can help you rank higher in search engine results then get in touch with us today.

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Scott McCluskey

Sales Manager

Tags: SEO, Meta Title, Meta Description, Search Engines, Search Engine Optimisation, Marketing, Digital Marketing, Google

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