As Google improves, Natural Language Processing search algorithms and websites strive to communicate search intent SEO best practices. The goal of every page, whether it is for the main site or a blog, should be to communicate the context of your content clearly.
If you don’t yet have a blog, you may want to consider adding one. In 2020, 92% of content marketers stated they use blog posts as part of their marketing strategy. Additionally, blogging is one of the most inexpensive and effective ways to ensure your target audience hears directly from you as often as you want.
One essential step many companies overlook is making sure that their websites are searchable online. Content is only useful if you take the time to implement SEO best practices, including writing accurate meta descriptions and title tags. When Google understands your website context, your content will directly impact your site’s appearance in organic search. Ideally, this will generate better business leads.
Each page or blog post on your website should have a title tag and meta description. Depending on which platform you use for your website, adding a title and description will differ. For our examples, we will use WordPress. The easiest way to add a title link and snippet is with an SEO plugin, such as Yoast SEO or WP Meta SEO.
When you create a new page or post, these plugins allow you to add your search engine title (Title Tag) and your search engine description (Meta Description).
Here’s an example of the plugin:
Adding a title tag and meta description is possible without using a plugin; however, it involves writing code. Using the plugin is much easier and can even offer guidance on long-tail keywords for targeted searches.
Google currently holds 91.75% of the total worldwide search engine market share. (StatCounter, 2020) So, for this article, we will focus on the parameters that Google sets forth for those items. For the best optimization of your title tag, Google suggests a good practice is keeping titles to less than 60 characters.
Using a tool like https://charactercounttool.com will allow you to see when you reach your character limit quickly.
When you copy and paste your title into the tool, it will count characters for you and give you an idea of how the title and description in search results will look. Now that you know the title tag character limit, let's explore what the title should include.
Let’s say Mary has a cleaning service, and she has a page about her specific cleaning services. This title should include target keywords to attract the right audience. In this case, people who need a cleaning service.
To help search engines and your potential customers find your content in search, incorporate search engine optimization best practices for title tags, such as:
Whole House Cleaning | Deep Cleaning | Brevard County, FL
House Cleaning | Brevard County | Mary’s Cleaning Services
Keeping Your House Clean | Home Cleaning Services | Mary's Cleaning Services
Because a house cleaning service limits the service areas it’s important to include the location to help search queries narrow down relevant searches.
As you can see in the title above, not only does it use too many characters, but the words cleaning services are repeated. This is something Google may flag as keyword stuffing.
There's no limit on how long a meta description can be, but the snippet is truncated in Google Search results as needed, typically to 155-160 characters to fit the device width.
Meta Description text appears in the section in search under the title. If there is no description, Google usually takes the text from the page body. This is called the search snippet.
The most important thing about your description is making sure it is relevant to what the user is looking for and the content on the page. Although keywords in meta descriptions are not a contributing factor to search rankings, they help the searcher understand that your article is relevant, therefore increasing your click-through rates which can help improve rankings.
Meta description best practices include:
Going back to Mary and her blog post about house cleaning, let’s assume the keyword phrase she is trying to rank for is “Cleaning Services.” The Meta Description needs to include an explanation that clicking the link will reveal an itemized list of the cleaning services the company provides.
The search snippet will cut off anything over 160 characters. Since the title tag and meta description work together, we can use the meta description to include additional keywords that a potential customer is searching for.
House Cleaning | Brevard County | Mary’s Cleaning Services
Whole-house cleaning, deep cleaning, and custom cleaning in Brevard County, FL. Read about the specific services we provide.
Below, we see the difference between a meta description where the character count stays within the limits and one that is too long. The meta description doesn't help the page rank but may help searchers click on the link.
When it comes to the ranking algorithm, there are multiple factors. Once your link appears in a search query you want to do everything you can to attract your target audience to click on your link and read your content. With page descriptions stick to clear, concise text that will help decision-makers know they can click on a link and schedule a call or buy a product.
Reserve a descriptive title and meta description for a blog post rather than a core website page. This will decrease the chances of duplicate content and increase your opportunities to rank for search terms your ideal buyer is using.
SEO is a multi-faceted strategy that requires attention to detail and continued education on industry best practices. If you are looking for support ensuring your website is implementing SEO best practices, contact us. SMA Marketing incorporates proven SEO methods specifically individualized for each client. Until then, Happy Optimizing!
Editor's Note: This article was originally published in October 2018 and has been updated with fresh content.
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