Weekly SEO: How to Write Killer Titles and Meta Descriptions
Pop quiz: What’s the first thing a user sees when they search your site? If you said the title, you’re right. Title tags and meta descriptions are really important, both for SEO and for user experience. A bad (or even worse – nonexistent) title hurts your search ranking and distracts or confuses your users. Poorly written or non-existent meta descriptions can also damage your SEO and cause your Google results to look unprofessional or wonky. Fortunately, writing killer titles and descriptions isn’t too hard. Here are our top tips for titles and meta-descriptions!
1. Keywords should be front and centre
Keywords are the words or phrases potential users search to find your site. SEO involves tracking the most relevant keywords for your site, and producing content containing those keywords to drive you up Google’s results page. For instance, if you sold rubber duckies in Kelowna, ‘Kelowna rubber duckies’ might be a good keyword for you. It’s specific, which means it’s easier to win than a broad keyword, like ‘rubber duckies’, and anyone who searches it likely wants to see (or buy) rubber duckies in Kelowna.
When writing titles, there’s one big SEO rule you need to follow: Put your keyword first! Let’s use our rubber ducky company from earlier. Imagine they’re called Acme Duck Company. If they want to rank well in Google for the keyword ‘Kelowna Rubber Duckies’, they should put that keyword in front of any other information. Their homepage title might read ‘Kelowna Rubber Duckies for Sale | Acme Duck Company’. See how the keyword comes first? That’s an effective title for SEO.
The same principle applies for meta-descriptions. A meta-description is a snippet of text that summarizes the page contents or explains a webpage’s overall purpose. While you don’t want a meta-description to be little more than a list of keywords (more on that later), you do want to include keywords when possible. This has little effect on SEO – primarily it’s for your users. Users want to know exactly what they’re getting before they click a link. If their search term shows up in your page description on Google, they’re going to know your site is relevant to their needs. Finally, remember to keep your descriptions short and to-the-point. Descriptions longer than about 160 characters risk getting cut off prematurely. Make sure your keywords are near the front of the description to ensure they’re visible and don’t risk getting cut off.
2. Write for humans, not algorithms
Keywords might be critical to SEO success, but as is often the case, too much of a good thing can prove deadly. ‘Keyword stuffing’ is the practice of forcing as many keywords as you can into your site content, titles, and descriptions. This might have worked years ago, but today’s search engines are smart enough to recognize keyword stuffers. They punish them accordingly, pushing ‘spammy’ sites down in the rankings. Good SEO is a balancing act, but at the end of the day, you should be creating content users will find informative or entertaining. For titles, this is less important: a good title needs to make sense, but they’re too short for keyword stuffing. At most, a title should have a primary keyword, and perhaps a secondary one followed by your brand’s name. Meta-descriptions, however, should be written naturally. Remember, too, that search results are effectively advertisements. Try to sound as appealing and convincing as possible when writing meta-descriptions.
3. Don’t repeat yourself
SEO involves a lot of care and attention. You can’t grow your search engine impact without plenty of unique, quality content. Titles are no different. Wherever possible, ensure every page on your site has a different title. In our Acme Duck Company example, they would need to customize their title for each page, giving them highly specific keywords. While they certainly hope every visitor wants to buy rubber duckies in Kelowna, their titles need to accurately reflect what’s happening on each page. ‘About Us | Acme Duck Company’ is a title that won’t drive sales or clicks directly, but Google likes honesty. They want sites to be navigable, so make sure your titles are all unique and relevant. Likewise for meta-descriptions. Make sure each one is targeted to a specific page and unique from all others on your domain.
4. Don’t repeat yourself
Seriously, taking the time to write descriptions and titles for each page you publish will pay off in your SEO and grow your audience. Have patience and put in the time it takes to do it right. You won’t regret it!
Something a lot of people take for granted is how well we can track SEO successes and failures. If you don’t use some sort of website analytics yet, you need to start right away! Once you begin tracking and recording your site traffic, you can begin testing different titles and descriptions. While SEO work relies on a lot of standard practices, it’s still an inexact and ever-changing science. Try out different keywords and writing styles. Find what works best for you and your product. Don’t be afraid to change things up!
Hopefully you’ve learned a little about writing great titles and metas. If you keep these simple tips in mind, you should be able to produce SEO friendly titles and descriptions and start seeing increased traffic and better search rankings.
For more SEO tips, tricks, and explanations, check back at Main Street Creative every Monday for a new Weekly SEO article. If you like what you read or found this information helpful, please like and share this article. Thanks for reading!