Every marketer or website owner knows what meta tags are, but not all of them realize the importance of these small pieces of code. Optimizing your meta title and description you improve such crucial things as click-through rate and the users’ first impression on your content quality. Although Google doesn’t use meta tags in its ranking algorithms, metadata has an indirect impact on your SERP.
Read the article to find out:
- The correlation between your snippets and your search ranking;
- Common mistakes marketers make creating metadata;
- Tips to follow when elaborating meta tags;
- How to analyze your existing metadata.
How meta tags influence your SERP
Well, if search robots don’t pay much attention to your meta tags, why should you bother these pieces of code at all? You could quickly write some short title and description containing your main keywords to help search engines form your snippet, and that would be enough. Not at all. To make it clear, here is the chain of consequences which correct or incorrect meta title and description can cause:
As you see, there’s a logical correlation between the metadata you provide and your rankings.
So, it’s absolutely worth spending some time to elaborate your meta tags.
Do’s when writing metadata
The main purpose of creating meta tags is to describe the content of a page ranking in search results. The data you provide there should be:
To make your snippets bring your website ranking a significant profit, they should meet specific requirements. There are two components of metadata you should always consider: title and description. I’ve circled out the tips you should follow when working at each of them.
Title tags provide you with great opportunity to engage your potential customers and make them click through to your website. It’s worth to make sure whether they give a precise and accurate summary of your page content.
Here are the basic requirements you should consider when creating title tags:
- Should contain no more than 65 characters. Search engines cut too long lines. If you want people to see the whole title of your article, make sure its length lets them do it.
- The most important data should fit the first 50 characters.
- Place the keywords at the beginning. If you don’t attract users attention from the first words, what are the chances they’ll click through?
- It should be readable and easy-to-understand.
- If your brand is recognizable, place its name at the end.
Here’s the way it should look in the code:
What people see in the search results:
- Should consist of around 160 characters. The discussion on the perfect length of a meta description seems to be everlasting. At the end of 2017 Google announced they would start showing around 300 characters in description snippets. These were quite significant numbers compared to the previous limits. But in five months, Google claimed they reduced the length to 150-170 characters again.
- The high volume keywords should stay at the beginning.
- Denote your competitive advantage. For instance, if you provide free delivery, write it in your description.
- Call to action (CTA). Such invitations as ‘Find out more,’ ‘Buy now,’ ‘Read here,’ etc. will help you make people visit your page.
- It should contain a short description of the message of your page content.
- End it with a full stop or an exclamation mark.
The meta description in the code:
The same data in the search results:
Don’ts when writing metadata
Creating your perfect snippet, it’s essential not only to know the crucial requirements but also to be aware of what actions can ruin your ‘first impression’ thing.
- Try not to use a keyword twice or more. Find the synonyms for your page to get ranked for as much search questions as possible.
- Never create similar titles for several pages.
- If your business is new and it’s not that recognizable, don’t mention your brand name.
- Don’t copy your competitors’ titles.
- It shouldn’t differ from the content too much. Google analyzes whether your meta description is relevant to the text of the page or not. If search robots decide you try to manipulate and make people click with your description, they’ll penalize your website.
- Don’t make it too long. The best way to check how your snippet will look like is to enter your meta description into this service.
- Don’t make it too short. Surprised? If your description contains less than 100 characters, Google can decide not to use it.
For instance, this one’s length is about 61 characters:
And here’s how the page snippet looks in search results:
Search robots used the first sentences from the article instead of using way too short meta description of the page.
- Don’t use the same description for several snippets. If you can’t create a unique meta description for every page of your website, leave description tag empty. In this case, search engines will use the first lines of your articles to form the snippets.
- Don’t write it in capitals. IT’S IRRITATING, isn’t it?
Evaluate whether your meta tags are well-optimized
If you already provided metadata for your pages, it’s time to see whether you did your best or you should change anything.
Firstly, look at your competitors’ snippets. Do they add some information your snippets miss? Check what your competitors focus on and think if it could help you improve your click through rate.
Secondly, use SEO tools to analyze your meta title, body text, etc. according to the keywords you and your rivals use. For example, Serpstat Text analysis will help you create automated suggestions for optimizing meta tags and page texts. To conduct analysis, you should conduct clustering first of all: click on Create a project, input domain and a list of keywords you use on your website, choose a search engine and select Linkage strength. When the cluster is ready, click on Start text analysis. Here’s what you’ll see:
The results will help you better understand how you can improve your metadata and correct existing mistakes.
To sum up
Some website owners may overlook meta tags importance knowing search engines don’t consider them ranking factors. But they forget that the quality of their snippets influences a lot their users’ experience. And that is, indeed, the ranking factor. So, make sure you follow the tips from the articles to fulfill users’ expectations and watch your SERP improving. If compacting all the tips in a few sentences, here is what you should always keep in mind:
- Make people click through (CTA, competitive advantage, etc.).
- Provide only relevant data about your page content.
- Don’t overspam.
- Elaborate its uniqueness.
Inna Yatsyna is a Brand and Community Development Specialist at Serpstat.
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