The Power of Metadata
You have gone through the hard work and invested in a rebuilding of your website with new content, a responsive design, and SEO. At this point, many website owners think they do not have to worry much about what Google is doing; they post their content, thinking that Googlebot discovers, crawls, indexes and understands that content to point users to relevant pages on those sites.
Unfortunately, it is this “set it and forget it” approach that can deeply impact your raking results with Google. With Google, the devil is always in the technical details, and those details have impact.
Relevant metadata is one of the key pieces of information Google uses to determine if the pages pages on your website are relevant to the inquiry. Metadata is often over-looked by many website owners or publishers. However, it is one the few opportunities that gives you some control over what Google uses to describe your web page in search results.
Metadata is made up of two items: the meta description and the title tag. Meta descriptions are short paragraphs that provide an opportunity to share more relevance with a searcher. Meta description tags provide a way to pique a searcher’s interest that will ultimately result in a click through. Although Google has stated that meta description tags are not tied to search engine rankings, they are important in generating user click throughs and those are tied to rankings.
Creating effective meta description tags
A page’s meta description is limited to about 300 characters and should, in a natural and active way, use the keyword that the page is targeting. When writing a meta description tag, be sure to use compelling, non-salesy language. The description should be specifically relevant to the content on the page.
The description should also be unique from meta descriptions on other pages of your site. This is your opportunity for some advertising based on search results, but more importantly it is an opportunity for a click through and ultimately a conversion. Be sure your language is clear, concise, and intelligent.
One note: Just because the meta description is limited to 300 characters does not mean that you need to unnecessarily pad them. Be sure to the information encourages a click through.
What is a title tag?
Title tags are different from meta description tags. They are a part an HTML element that indicates the title of a web page. Search engine results pages (SERPs) display title tags as the clickable headline for a given result. The title tag of a web page is meant to be an accurate and concise description of a page’s content and are important for usability, SEO, and social sharing.
Unlike meta description tags, title tags can directly influence a web page’s relevancy to a search query and ultimately rankings in the search results.
Title Tag Best Practices
Keep to about 70 characters per title. If the title tag exceeds 70 characters, it may get cut off on SERPs. This may result in less weight assigned to it by the search engines.
Ensure that the content of the title tag is relevant to the content on the page and will correspond to the searcher’s intent. If the page is geared toward research, you may want to include something with more of a ‘learn more’ focus in the title tag.
Use keywords at the beginning of the tag. Keywords generally get you the best SEO results when the page’s primary keyword is at the beginning of the title tag. One caveat; if your band has a strong brand recognition, consider putting your company name at the beginning of the tag. This would be helpful if your company name and brand power would generate more click-throughs than a keyword.
Include targeted keyword phrases. There is some thought that changes in the most recent Google algorithm updates that keywords are not as influential as they once were. You still want to communicate in a way that makes sense for your searcher’s intent. Regardless of keywords, Google will always value clear communication regarding the content of a web page.
Use clarity as your guide. Google uses the title tag in its return for relevancy and your searchers are looking for information that pertains to them. Be as descriptive as possible in your title tags.
Be consistent in your approach to writing title tags. Each page needs to have a unique and original page title. With multiple page titles, use a formula to ensure that it is consistent across the site. For example, consider Brand Name | Product Category | Product Name. Every character counts!