How to Write Meta Data
Here at Custard we like to think we’re pretty savvy when it comes to the technical aspects of SEO, but what about the more simple stuff like how to write meta data for a web page?
This week we have a university student on a work experience placement and having to explain the day-to-day tasks that we do almost automatically is surprisingly challenging!
So after being reminded of just how many people are unfamiliar with the basics of what we do, we thought we’d produce this handy guide to one of our fundamental processes.
Meta Title Tags
The first thing web users see after searching online is a list of meta title tags, which are the single most important element of meta data in the eyes of Google and other search engines.
As you can see in the above image, title tags appear in blue and underlined, or in this case in purple because we’ve visited this page before (Google has a great memory). The keyword we’ve used to search – in this case [custard media] – is emboldened for our convenience, but notice how prominent it is in the high-ranking pages – this is a huge part of why a page appears highly for a keyword.
If the title tag was about bananas and crocodiles, it’s unlikely that it would appear for this search term. Keyword presence is vital to title tags.
Another consideration is length – 69 characters is the generally accepted limit, including spaces. So if I was optimising a web page targeting the keyphrase [how to write meta data], I might produce the following title tag:
How to Write Meta Data | Title Tags | Meta Descriptions Guide
At 61 characters, this is well within the limit and contains all the information about my page to make it relevant to someone searching for this keyword. It also reflects the on-page content very well, which means search engines will love it.
Appearing as a snippet of text below the title tag, meta descriptions are a great marketing tool. Google confirmed some time ago that keywords in meta descriptions don’t contribute to rankings, but they are an important factor in users’ choice of which result to click. Take a look at the two descriptions below.
Heathcotes is ranking the higher of the two but I’d be willing to bet they don’t get as many clicks as their competitor below. While Heathcotes haven’t paid much attention to their description, The Duk and Pond have a neat, well-crafted, relevant, persuasive description that makes the Google listing much more appealing on the eye.
Optimising a meta description is a great way of increasing traffic. You can outrank the number one ranking page if you’re at the number two spot with a better description!
For the [how to write meta data] example, I’d use this description:
Convenient, easy to follow guide to how to write meta data, including title tags and meta descriptions with simple explanations of each.
At 136 characters, this is again within the limit, which is generally around 155 characters. It describes what users can expect from the title and includes the relevant keywords. This last part is important, because if your description doesn’t contain the keywords, Google will take content from your site instead (which is probably what’s happened to Heathcotes in the example above).
There are other elements of on-page meta data, but it’s these two that appear in the search results. There’s also a handy tool that we use to preview meta data so we can see how it would look in Google’s results before the page is live.
For more information on on-site optimisation, contact Custard Media and see how we can help improve your site.