How do Meta tags Impact Search Ranking in Google

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process which helps a website or a web page rank high in a search engine’s result. These search engine results are also known as natural, organic, or earned results.

In SEO, On-Page Optimization is responsible for helping your website rank high. There are a lot of aspects of a web page that affect On-Page Optimization. These factors include:

  • Meta Title and Meta Description
  • Use of social sharing buttons
  • Page speed
  • Long and unique content
  • Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) Keywords
  • Use of outbound links
  • Sitemap
  • Keyword placement and distribution
  • SEO-friendly URL
  • Use of H1 tags

In this blog post, we will specifically focus on Meta title and Meta Description. They are two of the important factors when it comes to On-Page Search Engine Optimization. We’ll see how important the Meta Title and description are and we’ll also see how we can optimize them for maximum outcome.

What is a Meta Title?

Meta Title is the most important of all the meta tags and is an extremely valuable tool for SEO professionals.

As the name suggests, a Meta Title is the name or title of a particular page.

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It gives a unique identity to a page and is of great importance for Search Engine Optimization and Social Sharing.

In HTML code, the Meta Title is embedded at the header of a web page, above the meta description and meta keywords tags:

<head>

<title>Meta Title</title>

</head>

You can see it at the top-left corner of your browser when you visit a web page.

browser3

 

The Meta Title is also used as an anchor text by Social media sites. Take a look:

Websiteshared5

When you set a Meta Title for your web page, search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo!, and so on, use that Meta Title as their Search Results’ Title.

For example, if you search for a long-tail keyword such as “top 10 jeans brands in india” in a search engine, a lot of results will get displayed.

All the results will match the keyword you’ve entered and these keywords will also be highlighted as bold in the search result. This is done to draw your attention towards the search result and also to show you how relevant that search result is to your search query.

Now, notice the Search Results’ Title.  This search result title is the same as the Meta Title of the web page you’re looking for.

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So, to sum it up, the Meta Title needs to be based on what your target audience is going to type in their search bar to find your website. Also, keep in mind that your Meta Title will be used by search engines as their Search Results’ Title.

 

Importance of Meta Titles in SEO

A Meta Title is one of the most important On-Page ranking factors. The Meta Title must clearly convey the purpose of your page. It is critical to both a user and for search engine optimization.

Keywords are one of the main reasons why Meta Titles are so important for SEO. If you use a keyword in your Meta Title, there is a possibility that your web page will be listed among the top search results.

This priority is given to your web page only if your keywords are present in the content on your web page. On the other hand, if you’ve used keywords effectively in your content but failed to include them in your Meta Title, you will lose out on your page ranking.

For example, if I search for “denim jackets for women”, the top search results must contain denim jackets for women. Here, “denim jackets for women” is a keyphrase.

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So, for a company that manufactures Denim Jackets for Women, it is important that they mention “Denim Jackets for Women,” as a long-tail keyword on their products’ web page.

Also, for the company to show up in the search results, they need to include these keywords in their title.

 

How to write Meta Titles?

The next question that comes to mind after knowing the importance of a Meta Title is to understand how to write it.

Usually, only the first 70 characters (including spaces) of a title tag are displayed as a search result by Google. At least 95% of your titles will display properly if you can manage to follow this character count limit.

The best format for a Meta Title is:

Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Brand Name

Take a look at the Meta Titles I’ve listed below and identify which one is better:

Option 1: Men’s Denim Pants | Fine Denim Jeans & More | Betabrand

Option 2: Betabrand | Fine Denim Jeans, Pants & more for men

I’d suggest you go for option 1. The reason why option 1 is a better choice is because it follows all the rules I’ve mentioned earlier.

It has the main keyword “Men’s Denim Pants”at the beginning of the title tag and is not broken into parts by other words, as seen in the second example. You must avoid words that break up the main keyword or phrase.

Also note that in the second example, the company name is found at the beginning of the title; this is not recommended unless your brand is well-known.

 

Best Practices for optimizing Meta Titles

As mentioned earlier, title tags are of great importance in SEO and so, implementing best practices for title tags makes for a terrific low-effort, high-impact SEO task. I have listed some of the best practices here:

Keep the length of the meta title in check

While displaying search results, search engines cut off titles that exceed a specified limit. The length of title should ideally be 70 characters (including spaces), or 512 pixels wide (this works for Google). These specifications vary for different search engines and is not limited to any rules.

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For the purpose of Social sharing, longer titles are preferred even if the title gets cut off in the search results. This is a special case because search engines use the keywords in your title tag for ranking purposes.

What I suggest is that you don’t need to obsess so much over the length of the title. Just focus on creating a great title that will get you maximum clicks.

Longer titles often work better for social sharing, and many SEOs believe search engines may use the keywords in your title tag for ranking purposes, even if those keywords get cut off in search results. In the end, it’s usually better to write a great title that converts and get clicks than it is to obsess over length.

 

Begin your meta title with your primary keyword

Always aim to place your keywords towards the beginning of your title tag. This will help you get a better ranking and also get users to to click on your link in the search result.

 

Know where your brand name should appear

It is recommended that a brand name should be placed towards the end of the title tag. Again, this does not work for all brands. Well-known brands choose to place their brand name in the beginning of the title tag and it works fabulously for them.

It all depends on what you think will connect instantly with your target audience. If you think the keyword you are using will grab more eyeballs, you should place it closer to the start of your Meta Title. Otherwise, you can choose to start your title with your brand name.

 

Take readability into account

In the end, all your efforts are directed towards gaining more user attention and getting maximum clicks on your link. So, it is inevitable to think about how readable your title is and what impact it will have on your audience.

Keep in mind that for some users, it could be the first time they’ve come across your web page. So, you must take care that when they find your web page for the first time in the search result, the message the title conveys is strong and positive. Remember, first impression is the last impression.

Here’s a summary of the best practices:

  • If your Title is too long, the search engines will show an ellipsis (…) to indicate that your title tag has been cut off.
  • Place your target keywords at the beginning of your title tag. This helps you rank high and also boosts your click-through rate.
  • If your brand is not a well-recognized one, it is recommended that you do not include your company’s name in the Meta Title tag.
  • The keywords you use in the title tag should match the keywords that are present on your site.
  • Making use of an SEO plugin can help you get the most out of your Meta Title tag.

That’s about it for the best practices. As few bonus tips, I’d like to give you some tips that might be helpful. It sounds really stupid at first but these tricks are really great. All this while we’ve talked about character length but we’ve not considered how much screen space it could take up.

For example, alphabets like “Z” and “W” are wider than “I”  and “V”. This means that using narrower alphabets in lowercase will take up less screen space as compared to wider alphabets. Also, “ALL CAPS” takes more space than “all caps”. So, I’d suggest you keep an eye on the case of the characters as well.

Last but not the least, simply creating an amazing title for thin content will not be fruitful. You need to ensure that the content on that page really adds value and that the keywords you use in the content on that page are used in the Page title as well.

 

What to avoid when writing an SEO-friendly Meta Title?

Some website owners repeat keywords in their title tags to manipulate their site’s ranking. This makes the Meta Title look weird and sometimes these keywords are totally irrelevant to the content on that page.

This practice is called Keyword stuffing:

stuffing8Using 1 or 2 Keywords in your Meta Title is more than enough. If you keep repeating your keywords in the title tag, this would be considered as spamming.

If such a thing is detected by a Search Engine, your entire website will be checked for similar instances of duplicity. And if, any such cases of duplicate content or repetition of title tags are found, penalties will be levied.

Also, you need to ensure that the title of every page of your website is different and avoid using special characters such as @, #, $, %, ^, &, *, and so on.

So, that’s about it for the Meta Title. Let’s move on to Meta Description tags.

What is a Meta Description?

A Meta Description is that snippet of information you see right below the Search Results’ link. It is a brief description of a web page.

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The purpose of a Meta Description is to let the target audience know if the information present on a web page is useful for them or not. However, it does not influence Google’s ranking algorithms for a normal web search.

It helps users in making the decision of whether they should click on a link or not. They make this decision based on reading the Meta Description and deciding if the search result is what they are looking for.

The Meta Description is used by website owners to advertise their content to the target audience.

A Meta Description is an HTML attribute and in the HTML code, it appears like this:

<head>

<meta name=”description” content=”Short description of a particular page”>

</head>

Writing an effective Meta Description is the key to a successful SEO strategy.

 

Importance of Meta Description in SEO

The most important use of a Meta Description is to maximize user click-through rate (CTR). The aim of creating an interesting Meta Description is to attract the target audience to your website.

You need to create content that will convince the users that your web page will provide them with the information that they are looking for.

The purpose of writing a great Meta Description is to rank high in the Search Results of a Search Engine.

Let’s consider the Google Search Engine. When you type a query, you will get a number of search results. Now, the chances of clicking on a particular link depends on how high it ranks in the list.

The search result that appears on the top of the results will get maximum clicks.The number of clicks goes on reducing for the links following the first link.

This means that for a website owner to get maximum clicks on their website, it is necessary that your web page ranks among the top search results.

Also, a search keyword is highlighted in bold in the Meta Description. So, it would be wise to include your keywords in the Meta Description to grab the attention of your target audience.

highlight

How to write SEO-friendly Meta Description?

A Meta Description should be written in a very clear and concise manner. It should be written in such a way that it becomes easier for the readers to make the decision of clicking on your link.

Google shows up to 156 characters (including spaces) of a page’s Meta Description. It is recommended that the character count of a Meta Description is between 150-160 characters.

If the Meta Description tag exceeds 156 characters, Google will replace the rest of the Meta Description with an ellipsis (…).

cut-off

There are times when the date of publishing also appears in the meta description. Google counts this date as a part of the 156 characters.

date

So, you need to ensure that your Meta Description appears in the search snippet without getting cut-off. You can do this by keeping the Meta Description tag shorter than 139 characters.

 

Best practices for optimizing Meta Descriptions

In order to create an awesome Meta Description, you’ll have to follow some rules. I’ve listed down the best practices to help you out:

Consider your Meta Description as a Call to Action

If you observe any Meta Description carefully, you’ll come to know that it is actually a call-to-action. It has the power to convince a reader to click on the link right above it.

So, you need to begin your Meta Description with a verb  such as “Discover” , “Learn”, and so on, to grab the attention of your audience. After that you need to mention what your audience will get when they follow your link.

This will make your audience want to click on your link to find out what’s in it for them.

Spark Curiosity among your audience

By the time a reader is done reading your Meta Description, they should be curious to know what your web page has to say about that topic.

In short, you must know exactly when to stop describing your web page in the Meta Description.

You don’t have to give away all the key facts about your web page. Keep some suspense for the readers so that they will want to figure out things themselves.

Choose your words wisely

Whether your link will get clicked or not depends on placing the right words at the right place. Using keywords in the Meta Description does not matter for the search engines but it does matter for the users.

What happens when a keyword in a Meta Description matches exactly with the Keyword a user enters in the Search engine? The keyword present in the Meta Description gets highlighted.

This is noticed by the user and they are able to decide whether or not your link is relevant to what they are searching for.

It is also recommended that you remove all non-alphanumeric characters from your Meta Descriptions.

This is how you get maximum clicks for your web page.

That’s all about the Best practices. Now we’ll see what you need to avoid when writing a Meta Description.

What to avoid when writing Meta Descriptions?

In this section, I’ve listed down the things you need to be careful about when writing a Meta Description:

Avoid the use of Quotation Marks

As soon as Google detects quotation marks (“) in your Meta Description, it will cut it off. So, it will display only that much text that appears before the first occurrence of the quotation marks.

If you have to use quotation marks in your Meta Description for an unavoidable reason, you can use single quotes (‘) instead.

Avoid Duplicate Meta Description Tags

Just like Title Tags, Meta Description Tags also need to be unique. You cannot go about having the same description for multiple pages of your website.

Not only is this a bad practice but also it has absolutely no value for the Search Engines. Duplicating your Meta Description will neither get you a better ranking nor appeal to your target audience.

Avoid keyword stuffing

Similar to Page Titles, a Meta Description should not be Keyword stuffed. This will do more harm than good for your web site.

When a user comes across such a Meta Description that is stuffed with Keywords, it raises an alarm. There is a very high chance that you will lose your credibility and the trust of your audience too.

Avoid misleading your audience

Just because you have to create an interesting Meta Description doesn’t mean that you’ll go about writing stuff that is not relevant to your web page. Just for the sake of grabbing user attention, you don’t have to mislead them.

Ensure you follow the “what you see is what you get” policy and advertise content that is actually what your website is about.

 

Coming up next <nofollow and noindex meta keywords>

Leave comments below if you have anything else to add to the post.

 

 

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