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First of all, what are meta titles and descriptions? Put simply, they are the titles and descriptions that you see in a search engine result page (SERP).  So when you Google something the blue text on top of the listing is the meta title and the black text below the green URL it is the meta description.  They are the first thing a user sees after they have performed a search, so it’s important to be able to grab their attention. If this is done right it will help drive customers to your site and will improve your click through rate.

Big Leap SERP

Importance of Meta Titles and Descriptions

Google takes  meta titles into consideration when crawling your site and will assign more trust to your website if the title tag and on-page content match up. In addition if Google likes your title tag then it will assign more value to the keywords present in your title tag.

On the other hand, Google doesn’t give that much weight to the meta description. So if Google is indifferent toward meta descriptions, then why write them? The meta description is more for the users so they know what the website is about and can decide whether or not they’ll find what they are looking for on your site. While Google doesn’t necessarily assign SEO value to the description, it does bold the keywords in them when they match what the user searching for. This helps the user to more easily find what they’re looking for, and if yours is the one with the most bolded matches they’re more likely to take a look at your site.

What goes into a Good Title Tag

The format that Moz suggests using for creating title tags is: Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Brand Name. You want to keep the keywords in front unless you have a well known brand. If you have a well known brand then it may be more beneficial to have the brand first instead of the keyword.

Another important thing that we have recently discovered is that Google has recently increased the font size and character size in the search results, but did not change the number of pixels displayed. As a result you should aim for a title that has around 435 pixels to ensure that your title doesn’t get truncated. You can check the amount of pixels in your titles by going to webshopoptimizer. They haven’t updated the number of pixels in their suggestion yet so just remember to not go over 435 pixels.

Meta Title Pixels

Something else to consider is the user experience. You want to create something that will compel a user to click on your website while getting the SEO benefits of your keywords. Make it relevant to your page so the user gets what they’re thinking they will when they click on your page. Don’t over complicate it. Keep it short and simple.

Also be sure to not keyword stuff your title (or anything else on your site for that matter). Keyword stuffing is considered spammy and doesn’t look good for the end user either. In addition, if Google doesn’t like your title tag it might decide to create one for you and you may not like whatever it comes up with.

What Goes Into Good Meta Descriptions

When creating meta descriptions, the most important thing is keeping the user in mind. You don’t want it to sound like a robot wrote it. Make it human and descriptive. Explain what your page is about and remember that this is your chance to attract someone to that page.

Use a call to action. Action oriented language is great for meta descriptions. You want to be able to grab the users’ attention and get them to visit your site. Words like learn, discover, find, grab, and many other action verbs will help you to get the users’ attention and will encourage them to visit your site.

Be sure to include keywords relative to your page. Remember that when a user searches for these terms they and terms similar to them get bolded, which is good for catching the user’s eye.

Don’t try to deceive the users. It is frustrating for the user when they click on your site expecting one thing and get another. Not only will they not want to stay, they won’t want to come back because you lied to them. Trust is important.

Again, do not keyword stuff! It’s so important that I had to include it twice. Just don’t do it. You may think you’re helping your site, but it will definitely hurt you in the long run.

Google will sometimes remove a description if you are using quotations, so it’s a good idea to just not use any non-alphanumeric characters to avoid this problem.

Another thing you want to be sure of is that you don’t want your description to go over 155 characters or it will get truncated by Google. I use nightbirdwebsolutions to check the description length.

Other Important Things

Both the meta title and meta description need to be unique. Google does not like duplicate content and duplicate Meta data is no exception to this rule.

In a perfect world, all of your pages would have meta tags, but in some cases it’s just not feasible. So as a general rule, write them for the pages that you think will show up in searches most frequently.

If you liked this you might also want to check out How to Perform a Site Audit.

Jamie Bates
Online Marketing Director