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7 Tips for Exceptional Meta Titles and Descriptions

Meta titles and descriptions are be no means a thrilling topic of discussion but they are none the less a key part of any optimised website.  In this post we will cover, what they are, key best practice for creating them and some videos for further explanation.

 

What are Meta Titles and Descriptions?

Meta Title - Is the HTML code that defines what the title of a particular webpage is.  It is inserted into the website's header code to signal to search engines the page's title.    

Meta Description - Is a snippet used to describe the contents of a particular webpage.  The snippet is usually derived from what is included as meta tags in the website's HTML header.  It generally forms the description that search engines display.  

Here is an example of meta titles and descriptions as they appear in search results.  

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What are they good for?

Search engines use meta titles and descriptions to determine what a browser sees in in their search results as shown below.

A meta title is the first indication to a person searching the web that a page contains what they are searching for.  Therefore, an effective meta title is one that details what the page contents is in a way that compels them to click through.  

 

Best practice for using Meta data

Here are some key considerations for creating optimised meta titles and descriptions.

 

1. Optimal length for titles and descriptions

As you may have noticed from some search results, titles and descriptions that are too long get truncated when displayed.  

Optimal length:

Meta Title - Up to 55 characters.

Meta Descriptions - Up to 155 characters.  

2. Keywords are not a ranking factor for search

Google long ago moved beyond using key words as a signal for determining a page's web ranking.  The bad practice of including irrelevant keywords in order to attract traffic to a site has put paid to this as a workable tactic.

3. Description should contain page's focus keyword

Having said that keywords don't influence search ranking, you should make sure your meta description contains the keyword that represents what the page is about.  This will increase the chances of search engines displaying your description rather than a snippet it's algorithm determines.  

An added benefit of including a relevant keyword is that Google will bold it for any searches for that particular keyword.  This in turn gives confidence to the browser to click through as they can see the page contains what they are searching.

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4. Every page should have a unique meta description

To maximise your opportunities to get searchers to click on your site each page should have a distinct description that provides a snippet of the content to compel a click through.  

By creating a unique description you are providing for the situation where a specific page contains what a searcher is after.  If you maintain a duplicated meta description there is nothing displayed in search result that differentiates it from other pages that are not relevant to the browser.  

If you don't have time to create unique descriptions for each page, focus on the key pages and leave the others empty.  Google will use the content of the page to create a meta description for it's search result.  This can apply in the situation of a online retailer with a large number of products pages.

5. Accurately describe the page

Make sure your meta description directly connects with the content of the page.  That way it will be useful for describing to the user what the page contains and help compel them to click through.  

Google reserves the right to determine what they display as the meta description in search results in order to best reflect the page's content.  So accurately describing the page is simply going to assist their process.

6. Meta descriptions don't need to be in sentence format

Meta descriptions are designed to convey a snapshot of what is on a webpage.  A sentence may not be the best way to convey this.  If  information from the page relates to a product, displaying key data like product title, price, brand etc will for fill the objective of conveying relevant information.  

7. Include An Action Phrase

A meta description provides the opportunity to include a call-to-action phrase to compel the browser to act.  Something like 'Learn more".

 

Quality Descriptions = Optimised Search Traffic

Taking the time to develop meta titles and descriptions can pay off by creating compelling and relevant snippets that encourage click throughs.

Below are some videos that are helpful to explain the importance of meta descriptions followed by a couple of tools to help you create optimised versions.  

Should you require some assistance with optimising your meta data, get in touch with the digital team at BTL.

 

Meta Title and Description Tools

Meta Data Preview Tool

Enter your proposed Meta Title to check if it is the correct length and see a preview of how it will appear in search results.