If you have a business website or blog and would like to rank higher on search engines, then I am sure you have heard how meta titles and meta descriptions can improve your SEO. But what are meta titles and meta descriptions? It sounds complicated, right?
Well, fear not. It’s not as intimidating as it sounds. In this post, I will be explaining in simple terms how to use meta titles and meta descriptions correctly giving your website an advantage to rank better on Search Engine Results Pages (SERP).
What is metadata?
Metadata refers to the information shown about your website on search engine results. In other words, it’s the data about data. For example, the metadata of a blog post should include the following:
- Post Title (Meta Title)
- Post Description (Meta Description)
These metadata are HTML codes placed in the header of a webpage. Their purpose is to provide search engines with information about the content of a page or website.
Why Is Metadata Important In Improving My Websites SEO?
The Meta Title and Description are important metadata elements. They form the preview text a search engine displays in its search results pages. Their purpose is to differentiate one website from another in the search listings and to encourage the user to click on your website over your competitors.
The meta title appears within the SERP snippets. This is displayed in blue text as a result heading. The meta description appears in grey beneath the page title and its URL.
For example; if someone searched ‘Web Designer Valencia’ on Google, the search results pull my metadata as shown below.
Both title and description show readers a short snippet of what I am about, while also highlighting the keywords that they have searched for.
The Meta Title
The Meta Title should be relevant to your page and under 55 characters. When users are searching for certain keywords, the meta title will be displayed in the search engine results. Use phrases and keywords in the meta title that helps both the user and search engines to know what your page is all about.
The Meta Description
The Meta Description is a short summary, usually 160 characters or less. This is shown in the search engine results and gives a searcher an idea of your page content.
Where Do I Edit My Metadata?
You can edit Metadata within your website’s CMS. From here you will be able to add keywords that will help you build your SEO ranking.
As many people use the WordPress platform, I will only apply this tutorial on WordPress websites.
To help you edit metadata on your WordPress website install the SEO Yoast plugin. Yoast provides you with numerous checklists of things to do or include on your posts or pages. SEO Yoast purpose is to make SEO easier and to make sure that your posts are SEO optimised.
In WordPress, the Metadata section is at the bottom of your page or post. Scroll down to your page and find the snippet.
- Check your page or post SEO title to make sure it defines the keywords that you want to rank for.
- Ensure that the Meta Description further defines your subject. Make it relevant and attractive to encourage the user to click on your page in Google search results.
- The URL and handle section is automatically generated by your post or page title. In most cases, you do not need to change this.
Editing Metadata On WordPress
1. Go to your Blog Post or Pages, and click ‘Edit’.
2. Scroll down to your post or page until you see the Yoast SEO box. Click on ‘Edit Snippet’
3. Edit the information on ‘SEO Title’, ‘Slug’, and ‘Meta Description’.
Note: The slug is automatically generated based on your page or post title. In most cases you do not need to change this.
The indicator bar below the SEO title and Meta Description will guide you on the recommended length it allows. Red of course means that your title or description is too short or long, and green indicates that it’s just right!
Though Google does not have a specific rule on the length of Meta Descriptions it is advisable to keep it between 155-160 characters. With less than 160 characters to play around with, your Meta Description should be relevant, brief and to the point. Make your description clear that gives a clear answer to the searchers’ question. Think about the keywords and phrases that the searcher might use.
- Create Page Titles descriptive of what your post or page is about.
- Your title should contain your most important keywords because Google uses this information to determine the respective page content.
- The Title should not exceed 70 characters this includes spaces.
- The title should grab the readers attention.
- Your Meta Description should tell the reader what your page is about and why they should click it. You will have 320 characters, so be inventive!
- It’s bad practice to stuff keywords in your meta description. Write your keywords in a natural way that a user would understand. The words you type here should entice someone to want to click on what your page is all about.