You probably know by now that the Title tag and Meta Description are one of the most important SEO boosters for each web page on your website. Whether it’s a product page, or a blog post, or a photo gallery, the Title tag and Meta Description will basically decide if you get tons of free traffic from Google, or your page will sink into digital oblivion.
Looking through Linkedin I found a discussion where a lady was asking for advice on how to write good Title tags and Meta descriptions, and shared the template she was using, and was basically asking for feedback from the SEO community. This got me thinking of the importance of Title tags and meta descriptions, and how even the professionals sometimes get confused with titles and metadescriptions. I hope the text below will help marketers and business owners to understand what’s the role of these metaelements, and what makes up a solid Title tag and meta description.
So what is a Title tag anyway?
With that clear out of the way, let’s see in more detail what a Title tag is, and why you should care about it.
Web visitors see the title tag in two cases:
- In the web browser top bar, aka Title bar.
- In Google search results page
The Title displayed in a web browser doesn’t carry so much weight because the user has already shown interest for something and he/she now is on your website. So all the optimization techniques you’ve done for that particular page did their job and the visitor is now more interested in what the page says, not so much in what the page Title is.
However, the Title tag is very important when a Google user browses through a search results page (aka SERP). Here, the Title tag is the firs thing they see, and it better be a good title otherwise your listing in the SERP won’t be as alluring than the competitor listing. Lose the attraction game here and you’ve lost hundreds, or thousands of monthly visitors.
The image above is a screenshot from a Google SERP. As you can see, the Title tag is formatted with big blue letters, and each keyword that the user searched for, and is found in the Title, gets an extra boost by making it bold. I used “webmaxformance optimize ecommerce” and you can see that in the first highlighted title, the eCommerce word is bolded, as is the URL of the page. In the second Title you can see Optimization and WebMaxFormance bolded because I sued those words in my search. If I didn’t have these keywords in the Title tags, I’d be losing the chance to rank high, and to get attention and clicks. Not cool.
What are Meta Descriptions and why worry about them?
Just like Title tags, Meta Descriptions are parts of text that you define, which Google then uses on their SERPs. This is your chance to tell Google “Hey, my page is for XYZ. I want you to use this description when you present my links on tour SERPs. Got it?”
This is extremely important. When you get tell Google how it’s to introduce your page to potential visitors, you need to go the extra mile and:
- Make the meta description keyword-rich
- Use the meta description to present your page in the best light possible
- Make the meta description alluring enough so people would click on your link
The screenshot above is from the same search on “webmaxformance optimize ecommerce” and the block of text is an interesting combination that Google made. The first part “growing your business with ecommerce and SEO can help you go against industry giants” is from the hand-crafted metadescription. But in this segment only ecommerce is a word that I used to Google for information. Since I also used Webmaxformance and optimization, and none of these words were in the metadescription, Google had to get outside of the metadescription and turn back excerpts from the webpage itself. So the “seo-browser.com as a free and stanrad tool as a part of the on-page search engine optimization” is more or less a random sentence that Google picked only to be able to show me, the user, that this particular page mentions all three keywrds I typed in.
Now this page that Google points to, is just a blog post I wrote a while ago. So I didn’t really care all that much about optimizing it better. But imagine if this was a page for a product I sell. In that case, the metadescription would be extemely valuable and I would need to think long and hard of how to write up that 150-character paragraph.
So how do I write good titles and meta descriptions?
Well, it really depends on what the page is about, and what kind of searchers you’re targeting: info-seekers, product researchers or product/service buyers.
The info searchers are trying to get to know the subject matter. In this case, an info searcher would be a person that doesn’t know much about title tags and metadescriptions. In this case, the Title tag should match the level of knowledge and interest of the info searcher. I have the subheads written in that way so they match the info seeker. The metadescription should be keyword-rich without any attempts to push a product/service sales pitch because the searchers simply aren’t looking to spend money. They’re only looking for some info.
If it’s a product/service researcher, then they already know about the widget or product you sell, and want to compare it against competitor offers. In this case, a webpage or blogpost should have a Title that maybe mentions the competitor product too. A few hours ago I was googling for infusionsoft and other affiliate management software companies and discovered yet another similar service provider, that had a page specifically aiming at people who know a bit of CRM, know of infusionsoft but aren’t sold yet.
Lastly, for product/service buyers that know exactly what they need and why they need it, the sales page can have a Title tag and meta description that openly go for the sales pitch. This is where you can write a bold sales pitch as a metadescription, and have the Title to read “Buy Widget A | My Company Site”
Going back to the Linkedin discussion, here’s what the lady used as templates:
[Brand Name]: [keyphrase] and [keyphrase] is WHAT WE DO
Meta Description –
X, y and z are HOW WE DO IT. [Rest of description in sentence case here.]
Knowing that Titles get truncated at about 60 characters length, it is absolutely crucial to put the keywords first, and leave the brand name for last. So, a possible Title tag template would be
[keyphrase] and [keyphrase] is WHAT WE DO | [Brand Name]
In this case, the focus is on key-words rather than brand-words. You’d like to use this approach for pages that aim at raising the awareness for your website and relying on the text within the page to pull visitors deeper in the conversion funnel.
Another option is to use this template
WHAT WE DO: [keyphrase] and [keyphrase] | [Brand Name]
This approach can get you to be bolder with a sales-pitch Title for pages that are intended at the comparison searches, like the one I mentioned on Infusionsoft. (I have no affiliation with them, and don’t really like their approach. It’s too aggressive, and they’re way too expensive).
Now, the metadescription is where you have more room to leverage the interest searchers grant you on the basis of a properly written Title tag. A good metadescription should get people to start saying YES to what you’ve got to say. The sooner you get visitors to start agreeing with your message, the faster you start building a series of micro-yeses, which eventually results in the mega-YES, i.e the visitor becomes your client.
A good meta description template can be this
Need [keyphrase] and [keyphrase] help? Do you need THIS IS WHAT WE DO? Call [brand name] now at [phone number]
The bottom line is that websites are built by people, for people. Each web page has its own personality and its own role in the conversion funnel. Some pages are there to get attention. Some are to make a case that your product/service is better than the competitors offers. And some pages are there to take the visitor and lead them down to the Buy Now moment. Each title tag and meta description should reflect the personality of the page, and speak the language of the people visiting that page. Use common sense, keep things in perspective and be personable. Otherwise, you’re missing the point with writing for the web.
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