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You have about 70 characters worth of space in your title tag and approximately 155 in your description. What are you doing with it? In this article we will discuss 10 building blocks of great meta tags.
Even as far back as 2007, maybe more, people have been saying Meta tags aren’t a factor in search engine placement. In the Google Webmaster Forums, a commenter wrote:
“One problem that I could see that not having a description would cause, which is the same as not having meta-keywords is that most online “SEO evaluation tools” give you a shitty score if you don’t include things like that. Things that haven’t made a difference for so long one wonders when the “SEO evaluation tool” was made in the first place.
For me, I think I’ll save triple the time, forget about meta-keywords, which I already do, forget about meta-description, which I haven’t seen the point of for a long time and to save the most time of all, give up on out of date so called “SEO” tools.”
Meta Titles and Descriptions – A Moment of Sarcastic Commentary
I won’t lie; I was floored by this comment. If this was the thought three years ago, how much has that thought process grown since then? If Meta tags don’t mean anything at all and are useless, why is Google still talking about them?
You don’t see the point in Meta tags? Please allow me a moment of sarcastic commentary.
You don’t care about the only thing potential visitors will see when putting in a search query because the search engines don’t use them as a ranking factor? So “about” is an acceptable title for you as a way to introduce your company? Not even “about company”, but just “about”?
And you’re okay with the search engines picking anything out of your content to use as a description for your company, right? You think, “All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed…” is going to give potential visitors an inviting, warm, fuzzy feeling?
People, when you’re running an online business, the rules change. Everything you put out there is a representation of your company. Your meta information, your content, the images you use, the comment you made on XYZ blog – everything.
Take links, for instance. Any time you link out – from your site, from your social media account – it counts as an endorsement. You’re endorsing the page you link to. The search engines look at it that way and, more importantly, visitors look at it that way.
So think about it. Regardless of whether search engines use your Meta information or not, it should still matter to you. Your title and description tell how you feel about your business, and how you want visitors to feel about your business. If you want to be taken seriously as a professional, take your online business seriously. #thatisall
Meta Data Building Blocks
If you’re going to build an active, engaging, growing online business, you have to start with the basic building blocks. Your Meta data is one of these blocks, and it has its own foundations.
- Don’t leave your title blank. From the Google Blog: “If you don’t specify a <title> tag, then Google will try to create a title for you. You can probably do better than our best guess, so go for it: take control of your <title> tag!”
- Different pages deserve different tags. Use unique tag lines (titles) and descriptions for each one. This may sound time consuming, but if you add this information as soon as the page is created, all it takes is a few seconds.
- Tags and titles are there to accurately describe a page’s content – use them wisely.
- Don’t stuff your Meta info – ever. In fact, if your Meta information doesn’t affect your rankings, then why are you stuffing them with keywords anyway? Instead, use your keywords, title and description wisely, to incorporate relevance, readability and user engagement.
- Write each title and description as if they were an ad for that particular page. How would you entice visitors to click? What would it take you to click through to a page? Think about it!
- For individual product pages, include non-changing facts (for example, listing manufacturer information or the number of available colors for a shirt).
- Don’t repeat the title in the description. These are two separate areas, and repetition is just wasting this precious space. Use the description to enhance the title and give a more accurate representation of the information contained on the page.
- Make descriptions as descriptive as possible. Remember, you’re representing your company and brand, here. Take the opportunity to show you’re serious about what you do.
- Try not to use quotes, dashes or other non-alphanumeric characters. These characters may end up have your description truncated at the character used.
- I am including one of Gabriella’s favorite infographics about best title tag formulas.
Finally, it’s important to note that Google acknowledged they don’t use Meta information for ranking purposes. Instead, they use it for relevance to a search. So, they may pull your site into the results for a search query because of your meta information, but they won’t put you on page one because of it.
This should actually come as a relief to many, because it leaves you fully able to focus on the potential visitor instead of the search engines. –And, as you know, the visitor is much more likely to buy than the search engines.