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Strong title tags and meta descriptions are essential for any page on your website. In addition to boosting SEO performance, they also serve functions for user experience and site structure. The tricky part of titles and metas, however, is that the definitions for “strong” have changed over the years.
Whether you’re a marketing novice looking for guidance on how to use these tags, or are an experienced search engine expert that’s trying to refine their writing - this blog aims to give a comprehensive look into writing the strongest title tags and meta descriptions for your website.
Before we delve into how to write an effective title tag, let’s go over the definition and function first. A title tag is a piece of code (AKA tag) that exists on the back end of every page of your website, and aims to identify the “title” of the page.
Title tags are visible to your website’s visitors in 2 places. The first, and simplest, place is in the tab area of your browser. Here, title tags serve a very functional purpose, which is to let users know what pages they have open in their browser.
The second area where title tags are seen—and the area that online marketers are most often concerned with—is in the search engine results page (SERP). Title tags show searchers the—you guessed it—title of all the pages that Google retrieves based on the query. Google takes into account the contents of a page’s title tag when deciding the ranking, making this a valuable place to optimize.
The last place to notice title tags is in social shares. When you place a link into a post to Facebook, Twitter, etc, the title tag will be used prominently in the link preview area.
Meta descriptions are another HTML element that summarizes a page of your site. The purpose of this element is to give a broad idea of what your page is about, making it a great way to explain to both users and search engines what to expect before opening your page. Since title tags are meant to be shorter, meta descriptions have more space to be specific.
Meta descriptions are most notable in search engine result pages, where users can get a better concept of what will be featured on a page. While meta descriptions don’t affect the search ranking for a page, they are a prime factor in getting users to actually click through to your site (which is why this concept is measured by the “Click Through Rate”).
Meta descriptions are also noticeable in social shares (AKA the screen that appears in Facebook/Meta when you post a link). This is a big reason why you should always be keeping an eye on your site’s meta info - it won’t go unnoticed.
While a title tag may look different depending on the vertical (service-oriented vs. product-based, news media vs. reference material), there are a few pieces of info to keep in mind that apply to all title tags. Below are the three main takeaways:
In recent years, marketers have noticed that the title tag that appears in Google’s results is not exactly what they had originally implemented. There aren’t a lot of hard facts about how exactly Google’s algorithm approaches its edits, but a few trends have been noticed:
Marketers haven’t found Google’s changes to be too invasive as of yet, but keeping in mind the kinds of things they look out for can help you future-proof your strategy. These edits really only mean to organize the search results better to give searchers a smoother experience of browsing their options.
Back in the day, search marketers had it easy with stuffing keywords into their web pages’ title tags. A plumbing site could use “Plumbing, Plumber, Plumbing Repair - NYC” and likely rank high! Gone are those days…
In 2022, you have to be more sparing with your keyword usage, and also think smarter about how they’re featured in your 60 characters. Below are a few guidelines:
It’s natural to consider “the algorithm” and bots at every step of the marketing process, but it’s important to remember the reason for these pages: the consumer. When your goal is to attract organic traffic to a page, put yourself in the shoes of a searcher. The title is where their eyes go first; they’ll peek at the meta description if you’re lucky.
When writing a title, think about what they’ll want to see. If your ideal customer is knowledgeable about your industry, maybe your title should reflect your authority. If you’re trying to attract a consumer that doesn’t know much about your product, your title should be understandable in a novice’s terms.
As mentioned before, meta descriptions are primarily user-focused, as they’ll be viewed below the title in the search results and social shares. There’s more freedom in this area, as your writing is meant to be viewed by a human that’s considering clicking into your page. Writing a meta description can be challenging, especially when a single page can be about so many things. Below are three tips to follow when crafting your page’s meta description:
It can’t be stressed enough that a meta description functions to pull a user from the search results to your site. In addition to summarizing your page’s content, think about why a user should specifically click into your site.
If your page is about a complex software, bring attention to helpful resources - like features, helpful how-to videos, or guides on your page.
If you offer a service with a discount for new customers, highlighting your promotion in the description is key.
If your page is about a category of products, highlight popular products that users will want to see. You won’t have to worry about keyword stuffing here, but remember to think of a user and their want/ability to read through a list of terms.
Just like title tags, each meta description should be unique in the way it describes a page. No two pages on your site are identical (if they are, that’s another problem!), so no two descriptions should be either. This is particularly important when multiple pages of your site appear in the results. You’ll put a strain on your users if they can’t tell which page is right for them.
If your site features a lot of automated pages, be sure to put in place a programmatic way to ensure each meta description is different. If all else fails, manually authoring unique meta descriptions is foolproof.
Another great way to seal the deal with a searcher is by offering a solution to their needs right in the meta description. Oftentimes, popular searches are entire questions. Your meta description can answer the question quickly, and then reference additional information that a searcher may want to see - like examples, guides, products that they need, or action items for a problem.
JDM has a great blog about repurposing content. Users may not be familiar with this concept, and may ask “What is repurposing content?” or “What does repurposing content mean in SEO?” To anticipate this question - as well as describe what our blog will go over - we used the following description:
Even though the description is truncated in the middle, we show searchers that Jordan Digital Marketing has a clear explanation of what blog repurposing means. We then take another step to explain why it's important to a marketing strategy.
We hope this guide for writing strong title tags and meta descriptions helps with your marketing efforts. By thinking smart about these HTML elements, you can leave a good impression on search engine bots and (most importantly) your website’s prospects. Together, these will lead you to getting noticed online and improving your site’s organic presence.
If you’d like to speak with one of Jordan Digital Marketing’s SEO experts about implementing killer metadata to supercharge your SEO, contact us today to see how we can help!
Welcome back to another Click Through Reads!
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