Getting meta titles and descriptions right is important in getting those all important click throughs to your website. So if you’re not sure what they are, read on and find out how they can make all the difference in ranking your website and improving your click through rates.
The meta title is a short snippet of text that headlines the web page. The meta description is a longer snippet that describes the content of a web page. The content of the meta title and description helps search engines to display relevant information about your web page in search results.
Titles are critical to giving users a quick insight into the content of a result and why it’s relevant to their query. It's often the primary piece of information used to decide which result to click on, so it's important to use high-quality titles on your web pages and to make sure every page on your site has a title specified in the <title> tag.
Here’s the Spartan search result listing from a Google search for ‘website design Exeter’. Note that the words searched for are shown in bold in the text on the search results, making them stand out more.
As you can see, the title and description in the search results are influenced by the meta title and description in the backend of the Spartan website.
How long should the meta title and description be?
The optimum meta title length is under 60 characters. This will make sure Google displays your title properly without truncation.
At the end of 2017 Google appeared to be allowing meta descriptions longer than the 160 character length previously used. We recommend sticking to 160 (including spaces) to make sure your descriptions makes sense and are not truncated in the search results.
So what should you write in the meta data?
Firstly you should think about what a user wants when they write something in a search engine which prompts your ad to show up. The search results information can help influence whether or not someone clicks on your ad, so it needs to reflect what the page is about, use active language and also be enticing. Where possible it should sell your USP and make your offering stand out from all the others on the page. Make sure you also take into account the following:
- Make sure the title and description is unique to the web page – don’t duplicate meta titles and descriptions from other pages. Titling every page the same makes it impossible for users to distinguish one page differs another.
- Include keywords and where applicable locations but avoid keyword stuffing so your results don’t look spammy to Google and to users.
- Use descriptive but concise meta titles. Avoid vague descriptors like "Home" for your home page, or "Profile" for a specific person's profile. Also avoid unnecessarily long or verbose titles, which are likely to get truncated when they show up in the search results.
- Take note of character length.Keep the title between 40 to 60 characters and description between 140 -160 characters long.
Why the search result title might differ from the page's <title> tag
If Google detects that a particular result has an issue with its title, they may try to generate an improved title from anchors, on-page text, or other sources. However, sometimes even pages with well-formulated, concise, descriptive titles will end up with different titles in Google search result. When Google knows the user’s query, they can often find alternative text from a page that better explains why that result is relevant - a title that is tailored for the query can increase the chances that they will click through.
Optimising the meta data and doing it well is a very important aspect of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). If you don’t add good meta data for each of your webpages, Google will always auto fill these fields, and you may find that this is not as relevant to the page.
If you require any help making your website more SEO friendly, we offer help with Search Engine Optimisation as well as help with website design and customisation. Give us a call for more information on 01933 303630 or contact us.