What are Meta Tags?
Meta tags, according to Google, are “a great way for webmasters to provide search engines with information about their sites. Meta tags can be used to provide information to all sorts of clients, and each system processes only the meta tags they understand and ignores the rest”.
Meta tags can assist machines in reading pages to better understand the content of the page. Search engines can use meta tags to categorize pages thus making them a useful part of any SEO strategy.
Meta Titles – How Do They Work?
Meta titles are used to express the title of a page; they should be 50-60 characters in length. It is the most important tag that should always be populated when maintaining site pages.
When writing your title, use keyword research wisely and create a title with your best keyword as close to the beginning of the title as possible. Keep in mind that the title tag will be the first thing your audience will see when searching for you online. You should create unique title tags for all of your site’s main pages and take care not to create duplicate title tags for varying pages.
- Google will display up to 70 characters and sometimes higher since they’re measuring the length by pixels (600 pixel limit) instead of characters of the title tag in search results
- Not adhering to the title tag character limit will cause your title to be truncated in SERPs
The Moz.com site has a great tool to help you write and preview title tags to see how they will look in search results. Using this tool will ensure your title tag looks clean and not confusing to your audience. We used it in the example above!
Using title tags correctly ensures continuity across SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages) and helps to reinforce branding.
Meta Descriptions – Length & Content
Meta descriptions are key to grabbing the attention of users who are using SERPs to find you. Meta descriptions should be 150-160 characters in length and give a more expansive description of your page’s content than the title tag.
Again, be mindful to include keywords and push them to the beginning of the content. Google will show the keywords and phrases users are searching for in bold text in search results, adding keywords will draw users to your listing. Create persuasive and relevant content that draws users to your site from SERPs. Keep within the character count or, as with the title tag, your content will be cut off when it shows in your result.
Meta Titles, Descriptions & SEO
Gaining ranking in Google and other search engines is part of an ever changing set of parameters. However, meta title and descriptions are important to the process and when used correctly are a vital part of any SEO strategy. Use the meta tag character limits as best you can, ensuring that your tags are not too long or too short. Utilizing the space you’re given in the best way possible is the best way to take advantage of these limitations. Creating content with keywords that simply defines the content of your pages will improve your ranking and reach more users.
Crafting content that machines can read and rank that is also user-friendly is the preferred method to writing compelling title & description tags. Using the guidelines here and constructing content for both man and machine will set you on your way to success.