What are Metatags?
Metatags appear in the <head> section of a page on a website and tell Google and other search engines important information about your website, though they are not visible in the website itself.
The following html code shows your Metatag Title and Description:
<title>The Title Of Your Page</title> <meta name="description" content="The description of your page" />
As in the example below:
Metatags are unique to each page of your site and are also used for SEO to rank how well your page appears for particular keywords.
How to optimize your Title Metatag
The Metatag Title is very important for SEO because:
- For visitors from search engines it is the first piece of information they will read about your website.
- Search engines place great importance on the words in it to decide where to rank your site for a particular search string.
- It's quick and easy to optimize!
Google shows around 55 - 58 characters (it varies as some characters are wider than others).
First, do some keyword research to choose which keywords are important for this page. Choose keywords that are relevant, have a high monthly search volume and a low organic competition. Once you've chosen a keyword:
- Write a 30 - 58 character Title
- Place your keyword at or near the start of the Title for optimal SEO
- Ensure the Title makes sense and reads well to a human being
- Include a unique selling point for the page &/or the website in it
- Ask yourself - will someone reading this want to click it?
- Make sure it's relevant and accurate to the specific page, so when someone arrives at your page they see what they expect to see
With many CMS (Content Management Systems) including Drupal and WordPress, by default the main H1 title on the page is also the Metatag Title. It’s normally possible to edit, however it’s ideal for SEO for both the H1 and Metatag Title to include the same keyword.
You can see examples of some of the Metatag Titles on Indigoextra’s SEO and marketing blog pages, where we always make the titles as SEO friendly as possible.
If it’s possible to sell the product in the Metatag Title as well, then that is ideal, but it should always be a maximum of 55-58 characters and ideally include a keyword in the first word or two, as Google also places more importance on the words at the start of the Metatag Title.
The Meta Description
While the keywords used in the Meta Description only have a small benefit for SEO, it is an opportunity to really advertise the unique selling points of the product or service and describe it in a proper sentence. Google normally cuts the Description off at around 157 characters (in early 2018 Google briefly made it 300 characters, but they have now gone back to the original length), so make your Description around 120-157 characters, so that most of the space available is used to encourage people reading it to click to visit the site. It should include the keyword or keywords once or twice, but you should focus on writing a description that’s meaningful, reads well and contains the unique selling points, this will encourage visitors to click to view your site.
If you have already written longer descriptions, rather than shortening them, I recommend rewriting them to end a sentence around the 140-155 character mark. This way if Google continue to show 155 character descriptions, they can choose to only show the first part of it and if they increase the maximum length in future, then you don't need to rewrite all of them.
The meta description is a brief summary, or “taster” of what is in the rest of the article or web page. It doesn't appear on the page itself, but shows on the search results to give a little more information about what follows. The more interesting this sounds, the more likely it is that visitors will click on the site.
If your site has a higher Click Through Rate (more people who see your page in the search results click it), then, all other things being equal, your site will also gradually rise in the results.
Unlike the Meta Title, Google doesn't always show the Meta Description in the search results, sometimes instead choosing to take a relevant section of the page that contains a keyword and showing this in the search results instead. To maximise the chances that Google will show your Description, rather than one taken from text on the page:
- Avoid using duplicate Meta Descriptions on different pages.
- Don't use double quotation marks - Google will cut off anything after this.
- Write in a way that answers the users query and clearly shows what's on the page.
If your website is all in one language (e.g. English), then the main search engines will easily be able to identify which language it is in and therefore this metatag is not necessary. If however you have a website in two or more languages (e.g. French and English) it's best to include the appropriate tag on each page, so that search engines know which pages are in which language. Discover more information on writing language metatags.
Check Your Webite
Each page of your site should have its own unique Title and Description Metatag, therefore it's important to check every page for a small website, and all the most important pages (called landing pages) for a larger site. Important pages will be the home page, any pages linked to in your main menu, best-selling products for ecommerce sites, and pages that receive a high number of visitors, or that have a lot of content and therefore should receive a high number of visitors, but don't.
Enter the address of a web page in the box below to see your Title, Description and Keyword Metatags:
Read through them carefully and ask yourself the following:
- Does your Meta Title include one or two keywords that visitors are likely to search for?
- Does it accurately describe the content of the page?
- If you're targeting a local audience, does it include the name of the city where you're based?
- Is it written in a way that will encourage someone to click it?
- Is your Meta Description written with good spelling and grammar, as a normal sentence?
- Does it accurately describe the content of the page?
- Does it show what is unique about your product / service / blog, that your competitors don't have?
- Does it repeat the same keywords you have used in the Title?
- Have you included a call to action (e.g. expressions like "Discover ...", "Click to ...", or "Today"?
Google ignore the Keywords Metatag. You might want to use it to keep track of what keywords a specific page is targeting, but personally I recommend doing this separately in an Excel spreadsheet and not using the Keywords Metatag at all.
Download Excel Metatag Generator
Click to download our Excel Metatag Generator - this lets you enter 1 or 2 target keywords per page and enter the metatags for up to 100 pages and will validate that your Metatags are the correct length and contain the target keywords.
What if Google doesn't show my Metatags?
If you search for a web address in Google then it will show you what they display to potential visitors of your site.
Google sometimes choose to show some text from your page, rather than the Meta Description itself. This is for one of several possible reasons:
- The Meta Description isn't relevant or accurate enough.
- When showing the actual Meta Description it had a low Click Through Rate, and Google's algorithm believes that showing part of the page will give a better result instead.
If you think it's for either of the above reasons, it's worth looking at how competitors write their Descriptions and rewriting yours to be more engaging, accurate and relevant.
Other possible reasons include:
- If someone searches for a precise phrase that appears on your page, Google often show the text around this phrase instead of the Description.
- For your home page, if someone enters the web address or company name, they may shorten your Meta Title to just show this instead.
In which case, that's just the way it is and there's not much you can do about it.
Our Content Writing Service
Indigoextra’s content writers fully understand the importance of attracting visitors to our clients’ sites by optimising the Titles and Meta Descriptions for all the original articles and blogs that they write.
If they are constrained by character lengths, then they will use sub-headings further down the page to help to emphasise specific products, services or unique selling points.
Please feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ways to increase visitors to your website, or would welcome advice on improving your SEO.