You should be paying attention to the small details of your website.
When search results are displayed on a page, each website will often carry a small piece of text in its description above the http:// address. Contrary to popular belief, this text isn’t created by the search engines themselves; instead, it’s coded into individual web pages as they’re created.
Known as meta titles, or title tags, these condensed summaries of a web page’s content are invaluable for encouraging people to click through to that page. They’re also useful for highlighting a page’s key USPs – and by definition, those of the company behind that page. Written in HTML and independent of other content on that page, meta titles are among the most valuable components of modern websites.
Making full use of this frequently overlooked coding resource is a fine art. To help you create optimal meta titles for every page, we have prepared a ten-point checklist that will ensure each title achieves its full potential:
- Make it relevant to that particular page. Every web page should have its own unique meta title, so an About Us page needs different terms (or tags) from a Portfolio or Contact Us page. Consider what each separate page is trying to achieve, and tailor the tags accordingly.
- Research keywords and popular search terms. As part of this process, investigate how competitor websites deploy meta titles. Tools like Google Adwords can also identify the most common search strings relating to the products or services you’re offering.
- Keep it below 60 characters. SEO professionals agree that title tags should be between 50 and 60 characters in length, including spaces. That’s the length of this sentence, so keep the tags brief. Tags longer than 60 characters will be truncated with “…”
- Use | symbols between entries. HTML punctuation differs from normal content, so distinguish between tags with the | symbol. A meta title might be “Meta title experts | SEO advice and support | UK2 Group”, which is also a perfect length at 55 characters.
- Put the most important terms first. Just as newspaper articles and adverts contain the most important information in their first paragraphs, title tags should be arranged in descending order of importance to capture the maximum amount of attention.
- Avoid unnecessary words or extensions. Brevity is absolutely vital. If you have a choice of keywords, pick the shortest one; if a word is commonly abbreviated, use the shortened version. Don’t condense words too much, though, or they’ll bcm ilegbl.
- Don’t write for search engines. Google’s web crawler algorithms have progressed from the days when web text and title tags were tailored for SEO rather than people. Don’t get carried away in the vain hope your site’s ranking results will improve.
- Include the company name. Industry experts regularly advise their clients that including a company’s name in meta titles is beneficial. List it after the other tags, unless the company is an industry leader – if so, it should appear at the beginning.
- Add your location for local services. Including your city, town or suburb will instantly identify your firm as suitable for anyone searching in that area. Today’s search strings are increasingly including geographic suffixes, rather than global search terms.
- Make it interesting. Try to grab people’s attention with title tags, even though there’s little scope for using highly descriptive terminology. Rattling off a dry list of potential keywords may indicate to customers that your brand is dull and unimaginative.