Your metadata can be the first thing a potential visitor to your website sees before they even get to your website. It’s therefore important that it’s optimised, not only to help search engines understand the site, but to help persuade people to continue onto your website.
What Is Metadata?
There are two major bits of metadata which will be discussed in this article, which are:
- Page Titles
- Meta Descriptions
Both of these can be seen on search engines, such as Google, with the blue heading being the page title and the meta description being the paragraph underneath. This can be seen in the example below for the Pinnacle Digital homepage:The Page Title is also displayed in the tab section of the browser:
We will also look at some other types of metadata which will determine what appears when someone shares your link on social media as well as some further metadata that can be used in order to try and improve the click through rate of your search listings.
Writing A Great Page Title
Your page title is likely to be the first thing someone sees before getting to your website, especially if finding your website via search engines. It also has some weighting to keyword rankings. Here are our tips to write a great page title with both the user and search engines in mind:
- Include your target keyword – This is one of the most important things to do when writing your page title. It helps search engines understand what your page is about but it can also provide the user with a great experience. If the user can see that the page is related to what they have just searched for and this continues onto the landing page then they’re likely to have a much better experience.
- Keep it natural – Whilst you should have your keywords in the page title, you do want to keep it natural. At the end of the day this will help decide whether the user clicks on your website or another. If the page title is just a list of different keywords this is likely to put them clicking onto your website.
- Include key selling points – Whether it’s a product/service page or an article you’re writing for you may want to include a selling point which will sell your page above others. Whether you have a feature that other products don’t or the most comprehensive guide to something, this can be something you want to add to persuade people to your website.
- Use your brand – If you have brand recognition, having your brand can help people click through to your website as the user will more likely click on your website against one they’ve never heard of. It can however also be used to help build brand recognition. If someone keeps doing searches around your industry and your brand name keeps coming up they’re much more likely to take note and take you as a serious player in your industry.
- Consider the length – There is a limited length in which you can have your page titles. This is currently based on a 600-pixel container for Google search results which is approximately 60 characters. If you want all your titles to show it’s therefore important to keep within these limits. If your title is going over these you should look at what can be removed and may look at moving some information to your meta description. However it’s not the end of the world if your title is slightly longer, you just have to consider that some of your title may be cut off.
- Keep them unique – As the title is a big hint to search engines what the page is about you want to make sure that each one is unique to the page. Having titles which are the same can be confusing to search engines and they may struggle to understand which version you would like displayed in the search engine.
It’s worth noting that Google may choose to use something different to the page title that you display on your website. They do this in order to provide the best experience for their users and if they are changing your page titles it’s a big hint that your page title doesn’t meet user intent and you may want to think about updating it.
Writing A Great Meta Description
Your meta description may be as prominent as the page title and much of the advice will be similar to the advice given around page titles, however with the meta description being much longer than the page title there are a few extras you may want to consider:
- Use your keywords – There is less benefit to using your keywords in your meta description for ranking purposes, however using them effectively can increase the click through rate to your website. When Google sees a section of your meta description which is related to the search term it will bolden it making your listing stand out against others.
- Include your selling points – If you couldn’t get your selling point into your page title then you want to make sure that you get them in your meta description. This can help influence people to click on your website above others.
- Keep it within length limitations – Google gives meta descriptions around 155-160 characters before they will cut them off. If you want your full meta description to show then it’s important to make sure that your meta description is below these.
- Consider a call to action – you may want to add a call to action to your meta description to help the user understand what you’re expecting them to do once on your website. If it’s a product page you may want to include “Buy product name online” in order to help the user understand that it’s a link to an ecommerce store. This can work especially well when the users search intent is matched by the call to action.
Again, Google may choose to display something different to the meta description that you provided. They usually do this by looking for the most relevant part of your page to show searchers based on their search query.
Take Control Of Social Shares
Metadata can also be used in order to influence how links to your websites look like when shared on social media. There are two main types of markup which can be used for this, Open Graph and Twitter Cards.
Open Graph is used by both Facebook and Twitter and can be used to tell them what heading, description and image to use when someone shares your page. Further information can be found on the Open Graph Protocol website.
Twitter cards do the same thing but are used on Twitter. More information Twitter cards can be found on the Twitter Development website.
Consider Schema Markup For Rich Snippets
Another form of metadata you might want to consider on your website is Schema. When used correctly it can result in rich snippets being shown in your search listings which have been known to increase click through rates to your website. Rich snippets which may show in Google include:
- Product Markup
- Top Stories (Only Google News approved websites)
You can read more about schema and see what’s relevant to your website on the schema.org website.