The first line is a meta title. This example reveals whom the page is for and the many services offered by the company. Underneath the URL is the meta description. This elaborates somewhat on the meta title by going into greater depth about some of the services that the company offers and the location. Although meta titles and descriptions can, of course, vary from one to another, this is a general base format that the majority take.
Meta titles and descriptions can be easily overlooked – it’s imperative you ensure they aren’t! Think of them like the plot summaries you find on the back of books – consumers will read them to make a decision about committing and clicking through to your website. Metadata has three main roles:
- to summarise the page’s content;
- to provide a reason to click through;
- and to incorporate keywords to boost your site’s search engine presence.
They’re simpler and quicker to write than you may think. Here are some points to consider:
- Are they compelling?
Above all else, your meta titles and descriptions should be engaging and interesting to read. You need to stand out from all the other companies promoting similar products or services, and appeal to consumers’ interests. Grab their attention and spark their interest with enticing titles and descriptions; aim to locate their need and craft your message to show how your website fulfils it. To aid SEO, ensure all titles and descriptions make sense and read well, or you risk penalising your chances of increasing click through rates.
- Marketed your brand?
It’s important to include brand names and straplines in meta titles and descriptions wherever possible – they differentiate your company in a crowded marketplace and help consumers looking for your website to recognise you. The same goes for adding USPs, discounts, and offers – but remember, if these change, the meta title or description must also be updated. Making metadata benefit-led gives people an appealing reason to click through and investigate your website. And don’t forget to promote your credibility – adding accreditations, and, for brands that aren’t household names, statements like ‘since 1980’ may increase traffic and influence consumers to click.
- Add a call to action.
A call to action is great for influencing click-throughs, e.g. ‘save 10%…’, ‘discover our new range…’, or ‘order by January 31 and receive…’, etc. It creates a sense of urgency that makes your website simply more clickable. Don’t use empty, frequently-used words like ‘professional’ or ‘experienced’ to promote – instead, inspire confidence in your readers by speaking about the genuine benefits that your product or service provides.
- Applied keywords?
Use the same keywords you’ve applied to a page’s copy in its corresponding metadata, otherwise it could prove misleading. Use (but don’t abuse) keywords – they’re essential because when people Google keywords, those apparent in your meta description will show bold in the search results. Place the most important keywords in your meta title first – seeing a term at the beginning implies it’s more important to your page, and search engines will also see it this way. Consumers searching with that term are thus more likely to click through if it seems more relevant to your page than to others. Avoid spamming with excessive keywords – this will only harm your rankings.
- Make sure they’re unique.
Ensure you create unique titles and descriptions for each and every page of your website – duplicate content will only harm your rankings. Go through each page and write an original title and description based closely on the content, copy, and keywords on that page. The descriptions should show facts about the page’s content, and shouldn’t be what the entire website has to offer (unless, perhaps, it’s the homepage). If you’ve got similar pages (e.g. a separate page for each product you sell), create a formula to dynamically craft unique descriptions based on product name, brand or colour etc, to help save you time.
- Considered character limits?
With only one sentence to tell potential clients why they should view your website, use it wisely by making a clear point. Stick to the character limit. Recommended limit is 55-60 characters for meta titles & 155-160 characters for descriptions. However there's no exact character limit, because characters can vary in width and Google's organic meta titles max out (currently) at 600 pixels. You want to avoid your message being cut off and therefore appearing less effective. Although often it’s useful to maximise the space available, don’t feel all of it has to be used; if you can convey your message in fewer characters, then do so. A shorter meta description may attract more attention in a crowd of lengthy, keyword-stuffed descriptions. Also try using ‘pipes’ (|) in your meta titles to separate important keyword phrases and to appear more eye-catching (see examples below).
- And finally… search for inspiration!
Take a look at the metadata below for some pretty strong examples:
And here’s why they’re so successful in their pursuits:
- They fulfil the three primary roles of metadata: all summarise the web page’s content; they offer the consumer something more, a reason to click through to the main website (be it an opportunity to experience luxury travel with big discounts, gain information, or to have food in a fun environment); and finally, they all include relevant keywords (e.g. ‘luxury travel’, ‘contact Mindful Chef’, 'Japanese food').
- They’re compelling – each summarises the page’s content in an intriguing manner and appeals to the reader’s interest, e.g. wanting a luxury holiday, an answer, or tasty Japanese food.
- All mention their brand name, making them instantly recognisable to consumers, and they promote their USPs (luxury holidays, UK's #1 recipe box service, fast Japanese food).
- Each has at least one enticing call to action – ‘save up to 70%’, ‘contact the team to learn’, 'freshest restaurant… eat in, delivery or take away'. This provides a reason to click through, and offers the reader an opportunity to gain.
If you're looking for a digital agency to help you optimise your sites Metadata, or for help developing your overall SEO and digital marketing please contact Shaun on 01242 511912.
Or for more crucial insights read another from SOZO’s Blog:
(Updated October 2017)