Title Tags and Meta Descriptions: A Beginner’s Guide

title tags and meta description

Title Tags and Meta Descriptions: A Beginner’s Guide

This article was first published in May 2012, and last updated in February 2020.

Did you know title tags and meta descriptions are the first thing people will read about your site when viewed in search results. Along with actual site content, the titles and descriptions of your pages play a major role in determining how search engines rank your site. It’s crucial these tags and descriptions have relevant keywords and match the content of your site. Though keywords in the title and description may help your site show up in related searches, it’s not just search engines that read the titles and descriptions. It’s primarily for people looking researching the topics, products, or services that your site provides.

Writing title tags and meta descriptions readable by both search engines and web surfers may seem like a complicated task. The following guidelines may make this task easier.

 

Creating Effective Title Tags

A title tag is a brief statement of what the page is about. Ideally, the title will be around 50-60 characters in length, as Google will not display more characters than that on their search results. If your titles exceed the 60 character limit, it means you’re likely writing with the search engines in mind, not the users you want to attract. Additionally, it tends to look somewhat sloppy and unprofessional. A choppy title will not impress users scrolling through search results. Although it may seem beneficial to provide multiple instances of keywords in your title tag, Google will likely regard it as spam, also known as “keyword stuffing.” At the other extreme, avoid using ambiguous titles such as “Home” or “Welcome Page.” These titles, though concise, do not present a clear topic for the page. These types of titles just give enough information for a user, and don’t help them connect to the specific content of your site. And because titles like that don’t contain any specific information, it will not provide you with any SEO value. In short, keep your title tags well focused and concise.

 

Writing Powerful Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions, along with title tags, convey the theme of your site. These short descriptions or snippets of about 155 characters in length, or the length of a tag in HTML, helps tell a user more about the content of your site. It is important that you include keywords or target services in the meta description as well as the title. You also need to keep in mind the placement of keywords in the description. If keywords or target services are placed at the beginning of the description, Google will recognize them as more relevant to searchers. However, this does not mean that you should stuff the description with lists of keywords. Users rely on the meta description to determine if your site can help them find what they’re looking for. Therefore, you need to make sure your meta description is both readable and user-friendly. Because search results will only display approximately 155 characters, you need to make sure your meta descriptions stay concise yet effective.

Example

Company Name: Tubior Nahtubi Real Estate

Keyword(s)/Target Service(s): Hamlet Real Estate

Example Title: Hamlet Real Estate: Real Estate Listings From Tubior Nahtubi Real Estate

Example Description: Find Hamlet real estate listings from Tubior Nahtubi Real Estate. We have listings for the Capulet and Montague communities. Call us today to learn more!

 

The title tag and meta description for this example would appear in the Google search results as below.

Title Tag and Meta Description in Google Search Results

 

Take a look at the content of your titles and metas. If you don’t feel like you’ve succinctly answered the questions about what your site covers, or they’re too long, you need to do some revising. Remember that your title tags and meta descriptions should be relevant and concise to rank well with Google.

Mike Marsh
[email protected]

Mike has been in the online marketing industry since 2012. He has extensive experience with SEO, email marketing and linkbuilding campaigns for in-house and agency teams around the country. You can connect with him right here: Linkedin