If you’re into SEO, you know very well that you need to do everything you can to rank well in Google’s search results. But how does Google rank a web page? How does it know which keywords or phrases to display on the page whenever an internet user types in a term in the Google search box?
How does Google know which words and phrases on the web page are the most important? This is where page titles and meta descriptions come in.
What Is Metadata?
Metadata plays a crucial role in website or web page optimisation. To put it simply, metadata is “data about data.” It is integrated into a code or underneath a layer of code so additional information can be provided to the software that’s reading it.
Metadata can also refer to HTML elements such as title tags and description tags. Internet users can’t see the metadata because they’re not displayed on the screen but are encoded into the page, instead.
What Are Page Titles?
Page titles, also referred to as title tags are tiny bits of HTML codes that are integrated into the source code of a web page. It’s an important page element because it tells Google and other search engines what the page is about and what keywords they need to focus on.
A good meta title tag or SEO title needs to be 60 characters at most, including spaces. The title tags of each of the web pages should be unique. That’s why you need to use keyword research so you’ll know which keywords are best to use in your title tags. Page titles must be short and an accurate summary of the page. If not, visitors will leave your page once they realise that the content isn’t what they expected, as per the displayed title.
The code for a meta title tag looks like this:
<title> This is the page title. It should not exceed 60 characters. </title>
Good Page Title Examples:
- Buy Luxury Watches Online – 24 Month Warranty | CHRONEXT
- 100% Cotton Baby Blankets and Swaddles You’ll Love | Wayfair.co.uk
- Fee Free Mortgage Broker | Independent Mortgage Advice
Bad Page Title Examples:
- UK Specialist Watches
- Baby Blankets – Boots
- Hyde Associates – Home
What Are Meta Descriptions?
Meta descriptions offer a summary of what the web page is about. A part or all of the short text string may be displayed in the search results of Google or other search engines. You must create a well-written meta description to attract visitors to click on the link and visit your page.
Meta descriptions don’t have a measurable effect on the rankings of your web pages. However, it plays a huge role in enticing visitors to click on your link and visit your website after your listing is displayed on the search engine page results of Google or other search engines.
Don’t forget to use targeted keywords in the metadata description because they can have a positive effect on the ranking of your web page.
Well-written metadata can help motivate visitors to click on your link and visit your website.
Make sure that the metadata is complete. If not, search engines won’t be able to understand what the page is about. It may even prevent the page from getting good rankings for its keywords.
Make sure each of your pages has unique meta descriptions.
The code for the meta description looks like this:
<meta name=” description” content=” This is where the metadata description will be located.”/>
Good Meta Description Examples
- Buy and sell luxury watches. We’re the premier buyer and seller of used OMEGA, Cartier, Rolex, and other luxury watches.
- Do you need an emergency dentist in Edinburgh? Get in touch with Polwarth Dental Clinic and a friendly member of our team can help you. Call 0131 229 8143.
Bad Meta Description Examples
- Emergency Edinburgh dentist at southside dental care.
Why Are Page Titles and Meta Descriptions Important?
Page titles and meta descriptions that are not optimised will trigger fewer clicks than those that are well-optimised. Come to think of it, you won’t be clicking on the link that comes with a title that says “title” or a description that says “this is the description.” Well-written page titles and meta descriptions help your web page rank and improve its click-through rate.
Avoid creating bad page titles and meta descriptions. Because if you don’t you will end up losing essential traffic to your website. Even if you manage to get a web page on the first page of the search engine results, it won’t matter if no one clicks on it. Consider your title tag and meta description as an advert for your web page. Write it well and make it appealing so that it will encourage visitors to check your site.
Are Page Titles and Meta Descriptions Used for Ranking Pages?
There is conflicting information as to whether page titles and meta descriptions are ranking factors or not. Although these two elements are essential when optimizing a website for search engines, it’s better if you focus your efforts on optimizing them to get more clicks from visitors.
What is the Ideal Length for Page Titles and Meta Descriptions?
The best length for meta title tags is between 50 and 60 characters including spaces. Titles that contain more will be truncated and characters will not be displayed.
As for the meta description, the optimal length may vary. In most cases, Google will truncate the meta description if it exceeds 160 characters. Keep your meta description long enough to give visitors an idea of what your page is about but make sure that it doesn’t go beyond 160 characters.
Tips for Writing and Optimizing Page Titles
- Follow the 60-character limit including spaces
- Include targeted keywords
- Use search modifiers such as guide, best, prices, and buy
- Include unique selling points
Tips for Writing and Optimizing Meta Descriptions
- Follow the character length limits (160 characters max)
- Highlight unique selling points
- Summarise the content
How Do You Identify Which Page Titles and Meta Descriptions You Should Optimise First?
Create a list of all the URLs of your website. Don’t forget to include a note of how much traffic each of them gets. Sort the list according to sessions per page or page visits. Review and change the title tags and meta descriptions as needed. Once that’s done, check the performance of the pages after a week. You can also write new title tags and meta descriptions based on the metadata of your well-performing pages.
How Do You Add Page Titles and Meta Descriptions to your Website?
Writing page titles and meta descriptions is simple but installing them on your website may be complicated. Every available content management system comes with different ways of adding metadata to websites. If you use WordPress, then you may consider using the Yoast SEO plugin.
Why Isn’t Google Using your Page Title or Meta Description?
It’s common for Google to not use your page title and meta description so don’t be too disappointed or worried. There are many reasons why this may happen. It could be due to an under-optimised page title or meta description. It may also be due to a page containing different topics or answers to questions. Another possibility is if Google hasn’t recrawled your page yet since it was last updated.