Suppose you walk into a bookstore and look at the titles that you are not familiar with. How would you choose, which book you want to read? An attractive cover can ensure that one book stands out among all others. You probably take the time to turn a book over and look at the back before deciding whether or not the book is worth buying and reading.
Metadata, including page titles and meta descriptions, are the ‘book cover’ of your web page. The page titles and descriptions are the texts as they appear in the Google search results (more on this later). These metadata provide search engines, and potential website visitors, with a brief and concise overview of the content of the website.
What is metadata?
When you hear the word “metadata”, you may feel that you have to recall your old Greek prefixes. However, the concept of metadata is very simple. Metadata means “information about data”. The metadata of this blog article includes the author (me), the date of writing, the message type, the category, the featured image, the title and description of that highlighted image, the title of the article and the meta description.
Metadata can be used, among other things, to retrieve information from a database. A distinction is made between structural metadata and descriptive metadata. Structural metadata describe the relationship of the data to other data. Descriptive metadata are specific about the information to which they relate. The metadata relevant to SEO can both structurally (think of links to other pages within the same domain) as descriptive (what is the page or website about?).
Importance of page title and meta description for SEO
As described earlier, the page title and the meta description are most relevant to the SEO of your website. The page title affects the ranking in Google; the meta description does not. However, the meta description gives you the opportunity to tempt the Google visitor to click through with a compelling and clear description of your website or page. After all, you can be found in a search engine, but if no one clicks on your link, you still have little to do with it.
Page title and meta description of our homepage
The page title is an important indication for search engines what the page is about. To increase the chances that your page will rank well on a specific keyword, you have to place that keyword (or search term) both in the page title and in the H1 header of that page. It is best to place the keyword at the very front of the page title.
The meta description is a short summary of what the page is about. A catchy text ensures that more people will click on your link. Consider the meta description as a well-thought-out tweet: concise and catchy, with keywords that your audience is interested in.
In some cases, your competitors, with or without the help of an SEO specialist, will spend a lot of time and effort optimizing their metadata. Then you have to do something to stand out. A simple yet relatively unused method is to process special characters and characters in your page titles and meta descriptions. You should think of arrows, separators, stars, etc.
How you can adjust the page titles and meta descriptions?
You can easily customize page titles and meta description yourself, especially when using WordPress.
When you use WordPress, you can use the Yoast SEO Plugin. With Yoast, you can immediately adjust the relevant metadata for each page, and immediately see how this will look in Google. If your website does not run on WordPress, you can add the following code in the HTML code to the Head section of your page:
<meta name = 'description' content = 'The text you want to use for your meta description' />
Keep in mind that Google does not always show the meta description you provided. Google itself determines, partly on the basis of the search that the user in Google has specified, whether it shows your text or description that it thinks better covers the load.
Below are a number of concrete tips that you can apply immediately to optimize your page titles and meta descriptions for SEO.
Tips for optimizing page titles
Do not make the page titles too long. This will prevent them from being broken down by Google. A broken page title has a negative influence on your ranking, according to a recent survey by Invest Online. In Google’s top 10 search results, only about 8 percent of the page titles are broken down on average. In terms of text length, it is best to keep a maximum of between 60 and 70 characters.
Optimize the page title sufficiently so that Google shows it. Google reserves the right to display a different page title then you have set. Do not completely fill your page title with all kinds of (random) keywords, because Google can punish such behavior (‘keyword stuffing’) by making you lower or no longer rank. In addition, you put the Google user on the wrong track. After all, the user will see other information that he or she expects, and you will still pass your goal. Search results in which Google shows the same page title as in the source code of the page will score higher in Google on average.
Name the search term at the beginning of the page title. In general, pages with the search term seem to get a higher ranking at the beginning of the title. In addition, the subject of the page with the search result becomes clearer when the main search term is named in the page title.
Use a clear Call To Action (CTA) in the page title. The three most frequently used English-language CTAs in page titles are ‘Buy,’ ‘Shop’ and ‘Now.’ These can be used to activate the searcher and to increase the click-through ratio (CTR).
Use a Unique Selling Point (USP) in the page title. The 3 most commonly used English-language USPs are ‘Free,’ ‘Cheap’ and ‘Customized.’ With this, you can entice the person who searches to click on the result and thus increase the CTR.
Tips for optimizing meta descriptions
Make use of the possible length as much as possible, but do not make the meta descriptions too long to prevent them from being aborted by Google. The maximum text length depends a bit on which search engine and which device you use (e.g., desktop PC or smartphone). The best you can keep a maximum of about 140 characters.
- Optimize the meta description sufficiently so that Google shows it. Use all tips in this article and keep the search and user intent in mind. After indexing, always check whether Google shows the same meta description you have set after optimization.
- Place the main search term at the beginning of the meta description. Keep it, of course, so only do this if you can build a correct sentence. The subject of the page with the search result becomes clearer when the main search term is named in the meta description.
- Use one or more CTA (s) in the meta description. The 3 most frequently used English-language CTAs in meta descriptions are ‘View,’ ‘Order’ and ‘Now.’ You can use this to entice the searcher to click on the result and thus increase the CTR.
- Use one or more USP (s) in the meta description. The 3 most commonly used English-language USPs in the meta description are ‘Free,’ ‘Assortment’ and ‘Quick.’ These can be used to activate the searcher and to increase the CTR.
- Use one or more bullet points in the meta description. Use bulleted signs to correlate with higher positions in Google. Bullets in the meta description stand out more and give a structured impression. The 3 most frequently used bullet points next to the horizontal and vertical lines (- and |) are check marks, alternative check marks, and the heart.
Be aware that the above tips can be used as guidelines in the first place and that following them is not a guarantee for achieving higher search results. With this article, we hope to have helped you a bit further in optimizing your website for optimization.