Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
While people understand the value of user experience (UX) on their website, many overlook the importance of optimizing content for the search engine results page (SERP).
Title tags and meta descriptions are a great way to make a strong first impression with search users. When used properly, these two valuable search engine optimization (SEO) tools can increase click-through-rates (CTRs) and boost your visibility.
What are Title Tags?
A title tag is the HTML element that specifies the title of a webpage. It appears on the SERP as a clickable headline.
In the HTML code of your web page, you will generally see:
Title tags can appear in the SERP, browser tabs, and social media posts.
Why are Title Tags Important?
Title tags play an important role in helping readers and search engines understand what information is on your page. Typically, your title tag is the first point of contact for a new visitor, so it is important to make it enticing enough to draw a searcher in.
A well-crafted title tag can make a positive first impression and increase click-through rates. It can also leverage the power of your brand name and include keywords to increase your rankings on the SERP. If you know what your potential customers are searching for, you can customize a title tag to fit their queries.
Best Practices for Picking a Title
When implemented correctly, title tags can play a significant role in both SEO and UX. To ensure your tags are relevant and useful, they should follow these best practices:
Title tags should contain 50-60 characters. After 60 characters, the title may be cut off and replaced with an ellipsis (“…”). Avoiding this ellipsis is crucial, as important words may be omitted from the title altogether—which can lose you potential clicks.
While 60 characters is a general estimate, the exact limit is actually based on a 600-pixel container. Your character limit could be less or more based on which letters (and capitalization) you use.
Keywords are helpful in enticing search users and boosting your site ranking, so long as they are not spammed. Inserting the most relevant keywords into your title tag is a must—but beware of overstuffing.
Google can easily recognize if a title tag is simply a list of keywords (or variations of the same keyword) and may penalize your page for spamming. Therefore, focusing your keyword usage is critical.
Use Unique Titles
Rather than titling a page “Homepage” or “Profile”, distinguish each page on your site with its own specific title. Unique titles help Google understand the value of your content and encourage higher click-through rates.
The Importance of Meta Descriptions
Meta descriptions are HTML attributes that give a short summary of a web page. Meta descriptions can be found just below a title tag on a SERP and can show about 160 characters (1-2 sentences) of information.
Although meta descriptions do not directly factor into Google’s ranking algorithm for web search, they can indirectly affect SEO by influencing a page’s CTR. Meta descriptions act as an advertisement of content. Through a few short sentences, they provide a glimpse into what your webpage is offering, allowing the user to decide if your content is relevant to their search. A well-crafted meta description can increase CTR, which is an important factor in Google’s ranking algorithm.
Crafting a Good Meta
Like title tags, it is important to be concise and specific when writing a meta description. This comes down to a few crucial components.
As with title tags, meta descriptions may be truncated and replaced with an ellipsis if they are too lengthy. Meta descriptions should be sufficiently descriptive, but it is best to avoid exceeding 155 characters.
The role of meta descriptions is to entice a searcher to click on your web page. Using an intelligent, readable description filled with keywords can increase CTR. Google will also bold keywords found in meta descriptions that match the search query. This bold text can draw the user’s eyes to your page, so knowing what your audience is searching for can help you pick appropriate keywords.
Determine if Writing a Description is in Your Best Interest
If you do not write a meta description, Google pulls keywords and surrounding phrases from your page based on the user’s search query. In some instances, allowing Google to fill the meta description may actually result in a more relevant summary for a query.
However, it is important to know when to use this method. Usually, it is best to write your own description if your page includes broad content on 1-3 heavily searched keywords or phrases, such as a homepage. It is generally easier to target users performing search queries for these heavily used terms.
On the other hand, it may be beneficial to allow Google to automate the description if your page targets long-tail traffic (3 or more keywords). Targeting long-tail keywords in your meta description is a more difficult task to accomplish, so a pre-written meta description may actually be less relevant to searchers.
Learn More About Implementing Titles and Metas
Understanding and implementing title tags and meta descriptions is a small but critical part of making an impact on the SERP. By creating concise and focused copy that search users see first, you can increase your overall SEO.
To learn more, reach out to BluShark Digital today for a consultation.