Crafting titles and meta descriptions that generate clicks
What are meta titles and descriptions?
Meta titles and descriptions are short pieces of text that sit in meta tags at the top of a website's templates. They tell Google what the title of an individual page is, and provide a brief description of its content which is displayed in search results.
The meta tags themselves look like this:
<title>A blog about writing great keywords and meta descriptions"></title>
<meta name="description" content="Tips for creating copy that will get people clicking when they see your site in their search results" />
The meta title tag is used in conjunction with the regular title tag – itself an essential part of a website's code. The information in the meta title tag is what's displayed in Google's search results, the copy in the title tag is what appears in the title bars of a browser. As the title is embedded with a link to the website in search results it's essential to get it right.
Title tags are important for SEO, as they give Google more information with which to categorise a website. This means the site will appear in more relevant searches. Meta descriptions provide the only information someone sees before clicking the link to a site, so they needed to be crafted in order to get the most clicks possible.
The meta tags above would appear in Google's search results like this:
Writing great meta titles
At the very least a good title should say what the page is and what it is about. The optimum length is around 50-60 characters including spaces, and the most relevant keywords should be put first. If the brand name connected to the site isn't included in the keywords it should come at the end. For example:
Although it can be tempting to write title tags that are only optimised for Google, optimisers must remember to write them so they're easily understood by humans too. While structuring them in a certain way will benefit a website's position in search results, if they don't make sense or aren't easy to read people will be less likely to click on them.
It's also well worth creating individual titles for every page on a site as this will result in an SEO boost. Many content management systems will generate titles automatically, or offer website managers an easy option to put in their own, but it's still always worth thinking about keyword placement and length.
Writing enticing meta descriptions
Just like the title tag the meta description should describe exactly what the page is about, using keywords related to the content. As a guide 135-160 characters is the recommended length, but if it's bit a longer it's not the end of the world.
Using relevant keywords are key to a successful meta description of a page, but the author should avoid “keyword stuffing” - the practice of inserting as many as possible for the benefit of Google. This will look spammy to Google, could result in the site being penalised, and won't encourage visitors to click through.
Crafting descriptions for human eyes will result in more clicks and higher search positions.
To get people interested they should be written in an active voice, and contain a call to action. Think of a meta description as an advert for a site. Those reading need to feel excited and curious about what's ahead in order to click through and find out more. For example:
Learn the secrets of great titles and meta descriptions in our latest blog. Read now to take your SEO skills to the next level and boost your website's ranking.
Again like the title tag every meta description should be different, and give relevant information about that unique page.
As mentioned above many content management systems now make it easy to insert meta titles and descriptions without having to access a website's source code. There will often be options to insert these two pieces of information when posting articles so it's good to get into the habit of writing them.
At the most it's three short sentences worth of work, but is a guaranteed way of improving the search ranking of website's pages and increasing the number of people clicking through to your site.
If you make a point to do it every time you post an article, you'll soon find it becomes automatic. Initially the format may take a bit of getting used but once you've got it right, you'll see the benefit and it will be one less bit of SEO you have to worry about.