Updated: Dec 14, 2017

When discussing search engine optimization (SEO) basics, two terms that you’ll often hear are “titles” and “meta descriptions.” Having high-quality titles and metas aren’t the magic switch to make your SEO jump straight to the top, then again there is no such thing as an SEO magic switch. It’s a process, which often takes months, even years, to see truly substantial results. However, having titles and metas that are of high-quality play a large part in achieving that ultimate success. But what exactly are titles and metas, and how can they affect your website’s SEO?

What are Titles and Metas

Both titles and meta descriptions are bits of HTML code that help search engines – Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc., understand the content that is on your webpage. Having quality titles and metas aren’t just important for search engines though, they provide internet users with a clear understanding of what that webpage is about.

Titles

Titles are exactly what you would expect them to be – they are the title of the webpage. A good title should contain a specific keyword that is being searched. Say you type “marketing in Traverse City,” a quality SEO title would include both of those keywords, “marketing” and “Traverse City.”

Additionally, a good title won’t be truncated by Google, meaning there won’t be ellipses at the end of the title.

You can see where LeadPlan Marketing gets cut off at the end there. A good title is between 50-60 characters, and if are under the 60-character mark, your title will not be truncated.

Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions are the piece of HTML code located under the URL. Metas should also include keyword/s or keyword phrases. A good meta description will help sell the user on the page and entice them to click. It’s important to be enticing, informational, and have a keyword/s all together under 156 characters.

Above you can see that “marketing” and “Traverse City” are both bolded because the searched phrase was “marketing in Traverse City.” By having both of those keywords in the meta description, Google recognizes that and may place that higher in their search results. Also, this meta description is the right amount of characters, so the sentence ends with a period, and is not run off with ellipses.

Put This Knowledge to Use

Titles and meta descriptions are nothing new to SEO; however, that doesn’t mean they aren’t important anymore. Often companies are consumed with new and innovative SEO practices they often overlook titles and metas. Titles and metas are not something to overlook; in addition to being a low-hanging fruit, they are a great starting point for SEO do-it-yourselfers. Be cautious of keyword stuffing when writing your titles and metas. Good titles and metas use keywords subtly and read naturally.

If you’re interested in learning more about titles and metas, and how to write them contact the SEO team at LeadPlan Marketing here. We love to geek out over SEO and would love the opportunity to take a look at how your SEO is stacking up against your competition.

Update: December has brought significant new changes to Google’s approach to meta descriptions. Specifically, the number of characters allowed has increased. Google now displays meta descriptions in the 230 to 320 character range. It’s important to note that meta descriptions don’t affect your ranking directly, but can entice a searcher to click through to your site. Google also can tailor the decription based on the search terms used.

LeadPlan Marketing is staying on top of changes like this, and taking a measured approach. This change is a “mixed-bag” in terms of implications to clickthrough rates. We recommend being aware of this change for future pages, but selectively implementing it for your most important pages tailored to your biggest search terms people used to find those pages (available information in Google’s Search Console)