As we know, SEO isn't just about writing for the ol' Big G (or is it?). So, when you're producing your meta titles and descriptions there are various factors to consider.

In this piece, we'll explore how to format your metadata using SEO best practices. We'll also explain why meta is crucial when it comes to attracting the right users to your site. 

What is a meta tag? 

A meta tag is an element within a webpage that describes something else – usually another page or resource on the internet. It contains information such as keywords, author name, copyright details etc. However, for this article, we are concentrating on the tags known as meta titles and meta descriptions.

Meta descriptions are often the first impression someone will get of your site, so it’s really important to make them as human and readable as possible. It's your chance to really make a great impression on your potential audience. 

You can find the meta tag and meta descriptions for a specific webpage by looking through the HTML. The ‘inspect’ function (usually found by right-clicking anywhere on the webpage) will allow you to view the HTML code, and you can search for ‘meta tag’ or ‘meta description’ (CTRL + F). Don’t worry, it might look overwhelming but you don’t need to be experienced in HTML to be able to find the information you need!

Golden rules for meta titles and descriptions

A meta title is used by Google to describe a specific page while a meta description appears below each individual result displayed in the SERPs.

You will also see the meta title on the tab of your browser.

Recent developments have seen Google testing different ways they display meta titles so sometimes they will choose something else completely different from what you have set as your desired text.

According to John Mueller of Google:

Here are some rules to live by when writing both meta titles and descriptions

#1 Length matters

The ideal length for a meta title is between 50 and 60 characters. Anything longer than that and you are in danger of Google cutting off a portion of it. You also have to consider that the meta title is based on a 600 pixel width. For example a capital M is wider than a lowercase l, depending on how many you have you could be breaching the recommended limits but still be under 60 characters. To help you out with this we have developed a nifty meta title and description tool that can show you what they might look like before you actually make the changes. 

For your description, you have a few more characters to play with. Under 160 is the target here.

#2 You're unique. Just like everyone else

For both meta titles and descriptions try to make them unique. This serves a dual purpose. By writing a unique copy it helps Google understand that each page has a specific objective and therefore deserves to rank in its own right. Also if you have some pages that rank for similar terms, but with a slightly different focus, the description and title can help users select the page that will be most useful to them.

#3 Stuffing is only for roast dinners

Don't try and stuff your keywords into either the title or the description. Google doesn't like this and neither will your users. 

#4 Keep it relevant

Read the content on the page and then write the corresponding title and description based on what the user might expect when they land on the page. Using over the top sales language to get the click will only create a poor user experience. Plus Google might just rewrite it anyway then all your hard work would be wasted.

What makes an awesome meta title?

An awesome meta title will be different depending on your business. There are a number of different ways people write them and you have the research tool at your fingertips. Yes, back to Google we go.

Now we aren't just looking at the competitor's title tags, although this will be part of the task. We are looking at the paid ads.

Explain to the user what they can expect when they click on the link and explain what the page is about as this will help the user to know they have found the right page related to their search.

Think back to why we are writing the title anyway. To give the user a unique headline that encourages them to click on your URL in the search results. And who are experts at getting people to click? Yes, the paid media teams.

So by checking out the ads for the term you are trying to rank for can give you some inspiration on what to write.

Remember you are writing for the user with a sprinkling of optimisation and maybe a dash of branding (if you can fit it in.)

Don't forget even when you think you have crafted the ideal title, you can review, test and tweak as time goes on.

How to nail your meta description

Much similar to writing your ideal meta title, the first things to watch out for are the golden rules.

Whilst Google announced that meta descriptions aren't used as a ranking factor, they still can really impact the click-through rate of your search results.

After spending time working on getting those great results, now is the time to maximise the opportunity.

Again you can get inspiration from your competitor and any ads that appear for your terms. Just remember to keep the copy as client-focused and compelling as possible. Don't forget to test, test and test.

Optimise your meta title and description with our tool

Since we’re all about putting the human at the centre of our client’s and our own marketing efforts, we decided to create our own SERP Tool that allows you to level up your meta. 

Our SERP Simulator allows you to input your URL, your desired meta description and description to see what it would appear like in search. The tool ALSO allows you to add a specific keyword you’re targeting to the simulator which will then deliver the Top 5 results for that keyword; allowing you to compare your meta against that of the Top 5 best results, as dictated by Google! 

You can then use these insights to help optimise your meta for search; helping your listing to stand out and rank higher than your competitors.

Conclusion

There we have it, your complete guide to getting amazing results with your meta descriptions and titles. To summarise remember the length, uniqueness, relevancy, user-focused and no stuffing. If you keep to that then you will be one step ahead of your competition.

And, if you feel like you need some support putting your best SEO foot forward, we'd love to help!

MEET THE AUTHOR.

meet-ciaran-min

MEET THE AUTHOR.

CIARAN OLIVER

Ciaran oversees all of our SEO strategies, and pushes to keep us improving our Search Engine Optimisation offering - which is no mean feat.

He helps to automate the boring stuff and inspire his team to challenge the norm to ensure they are growing professionally and pushing our technical limits as an agency.

More about Ciaran
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