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What is a Title Tag & How to Create Excellent Meta Descriptions that Work?

What is a Title Tag

What is a Title Tag & How to Create Excellent Meta Descriptions that Work?

Do you want to improve search engine optimization of your website and increase the click through rates? Do you know which are the major elements that help you to achieve this? Well, meta titles and meta descriptions are the two major elements that contribute to better search engine ranking.

So, you definitely have to focus on optimizing your title tags and descriptions.

The higher the relevancy of your titles and descriptions to the search queries, the higher will be the chances of your site ranking better in the SERPs.

Together known as the metas – titles and descriptions – are extremely essential elements of your web content.

Both title and description tags should always contain keywords that are relevant to the landing page, which they describe on your website.

Clear and accurate descriptions help search engines understand what your page is all about and correctly index your web pages to relevant search phrases and keywords.

Let us now see what title tags and descriptions are in detail.

What is a Title Tag and Why is it Important?

Title tags are HTML title elements that specify the title of a web page.

It briefly yet accurately describes the theme and topic of a specific online content to search visitors as well as search engines.

This makes title tags critical to everything – user experience, SEO and social sharing.

HTML title tag will be displayed as clickable headlines for a search query on the search engine results page (SERP).

Having said that, we know that you may now want to know “what makes title tags so important”.

Tittle tag is a major factor that helps search engines understand what your page is all about.

Also, it is the first experience that search visitors will have with your website.

Now, let’s cut the long story short – title tags are extensively used in 3 important places:

  1. Search Engine Result Page (SERP) – make-or-break factorthat determines whether someone clicks your link or not
  2. Web browsers – serves as a placeholder, particularly for those users who keep multiple tabs open
  3. Social networks – social networks use title tags to determine what to display while sharingyour page

NOTE: Some social networking sites, such as Twitter and FaceBook, will have their own meta tags, where you can specify titles different from the main title tag.

This feature allows you to optimize your title tag for every network and give titles of appropriate length as required.

How Can I Write a Good Title?

Title tags are extremely important for both search user experience and search engine optimization.

So, it is essential to write highly effective title tags that work.

It is a high-impact, low-effort SEO task.

Although there is no “cast in stone” rules to create enticing title tags, we have put together some of the critical recommendations that are worth considering:

  1. Watch the Length of Your Title Tag

If you keep long titles, search engines will truncate it short by adding ellipsis (….).

This might also result in omission of important words.

Although keeping the character limit under 60 is recommended, the exact limit can be slightly complicated and is based on a container of 600 pixels.

Also, some characters like “W” generally take up more space, while characters like “T” or “I” use less space.

All caps casing should be avoided, as it severely limits the number of characters Google will display and is also search visitors find it hard to read it.

Another important point is that longer titles tend to work well for social media and some titles are lengthy by default.

Although there are no penalties for using lengthy titles, it is always good to be aware of how exactly your title appears in the search results.

So, think like a search user and make your judgment while writing a title tag.

  1. Do Not Overstuff Titles with Keywords

While there is absolutely no penalty for lengthy title tags in Google’s algorithm, you might run into trouble when you start stuffing your title tag with keywords in a way that causes bad user experience.

One example of such keyword-stuffed title is below:

Widgets for sale, Buy widgets, Cheap widgets, Best widgets

So, avoid title that is just a list of different keywords or has a repeat variation of a single keyword over and over.

Being bad for search visitors, titles like these can get you in trouble with search engines as well.

This is because search engines clearly understand keyword variation.

Therefore, it is totally counterproductive and unnecessary to overstuff title tags with keywords.

  1. Add Unique Title Tag to Every Page

Unique titles are the best way to suggest search engines that your content is valuable and unique.

This also helps to drive higher click through rates.

We know. .we know. . .in case of websites having hundreds of pages it is difficult to provide unique title tags for all.

Leveraging code-based templates and modern CMS will allow you to create unique titles that are data driven.

If not for all pages, add unique titles for all the important pages of your website.

You can use the following syntax to create unique titles:

Product Name – Product Category | Company Name

And . . . .

Completely avoid default title formats that have phrases such as “New Page”, “Home”, etc.

Such titles make Google think that your website has duplicate content throughout or across other websites.

Titles like this are also known to reduce your click through rates.

The logic is simple.

Just ask yourself. . .

How likely would you click on a page called “Product Page” or “Untitled”?

  1. Position Primary Keywords First

Moz’s testing and experience, shows that keywords at the beginning of your title are likely to have an influence on the search engine rankings.

Did you know that user experience research shows that often people just scan the first “2” words of your title tag?

This is exactly why we stress on the fact that titles should have the most unique information at the beginning, such as the product/service name.

Front-load repetitive information at the beginning of the title will hardly have any unique value at the very first glance.

  1. Work Your Brand to Your Advantage

Do you know that adding popular brand names to titles will boost click through rates?

If you have a well-established brand name, just take advantage of it.

Although we recommend you to put your brand names towards the ending, there are some exceptions.

Adding brand name at the beginning works for pages such as your “home page” and “about us” pages.

These pages are meant to be more brand focused.

Besides, Google may automatically add your brand name to your display titles.

  1. Write Customer-Focused Title Tags

Although title tags are for better SEO, remember that the aim of your title is to get clicks from your target audience, who find your content valuable.

So, in addition to keyword usage and optimization, it is also essential to think about the entire user experience while creating title tags.

Besides, your title tag will be the first interaction of the new visitor with your brand, in the search results.

So, ensure that it conveys the most positive and accurate message possible.

Why is Google Not Using My Title Tag?

Has Google displayed titles that just do not match your title tags?

We know, this can be extremely frustrating.

But it is not easy to force Google to use the title tag that you have defined.

There are 4 likely explanations for this scenario, which include

1. Your title tag is keyword stuffed

2. Your title tag does not match the search term

3. Your have an alternative title tag

4. Your might have old DMOZ listing

Let’s now examine each of these in detail.

  1. Keyword-Stuffed Titles

Have you ever tried to stack your titles with keywords (which is also referred to as “over-optimization”), thinking that it might fetch you better position on SERPs?

If yes, then don’t worry, most of the people do this.

But then when you do this the chances are that the Google may simply choose to rewrite your title tag, considering it to be misleading.

So, the best option is to write your titles to be useful to your search users using the primary keyword.

  1. Titles that Do Not Match the Search String

Often your page may match a search query. However, it may not be represented well in the title.

Does this sound like a scenario you often run into?

Well, then don’t be surprised many businesses do.

In such cases, Google chooses to replace the display title tag.

This is not necessarily a “bad” thing, unless your title tag is being striked down for the desired, high-volume searches.

In this case it is better to rewrite your titles to match the search terms and their intent.

However, certainly, no title tag will accurately match every imaginable search query.

  1. Check Whether You Have an Alternative Title

Some businesses will have an alternate meta data like different meta tags for Twitter or FaceBook.

In such cases, Google may prefer to use those titles, instead of the one that you created for SERPs.

Again, this is also not a “bad” thing unless it creates some undesirable display title.

Then you may have to rewrite your alternate titles.

  1. Still Have Your Old DMOZ Listing?

Do you still have your old DMOZ listing?

Then be ready to get unexpected titles displayed in SERPs, as Google may choose to rewrite your title in such cases.

In certain rare scenarios, search engines tend to pull out titles from DMOZ (also known as the Open Directory Project).

If your display title matches your DMOZ listing but does not match your title in the search, then you may have to consider blocking your substitution with “Robots NOODP” tag.

It looks like:

<meta name=”robots” content=”noodp”>

Well, meta robots are fairly technical.

However, if you see any unexplained display titles in the SERP, then we suggest you to quickly do a search for your business on DMOZ.

This might help you to save yourself from at least a few headaches.

What is a Meta Description?

Meta description is a type of HTML tags that provide a brief yet accurate info about your website.

The function of meta description for your page is simple.

Its sole function is to make Google visitors to click your link.

In simple words, meta descriptions are designed to generate click throughs to your site from search engines.

Well, there is certainly no direct ranking benefit from meta descriptions. Search engines do not use it in the ranking algorithms.

However, there certainly is an indirect benefit. Meta description increases your CTR, which is one of the factors that Google considers to determine whether you are a good result or not.

So, if more people click your link, then based on your existing position search engines will move you up in the SERPs.

This makes optimizing meta description so important.

What Does a Great Meta Description Look Like?

There are numerous articles that give you tips to write the best meta descriptions possible.

However, here, we have combined some of the top tips that help you write great meta descriptions.

  1. Character Length Within 320 Characters

When it comes to the length of your meta description, there is no hard and fast rule.

However, an ideal description will be not more than 320 characters.

It strictly depends on the Google – what it adds to your search results and how much it wants to display.

For instance, Google may add date to your blog. This will in turn reduce the number of characters.

Recently, Google also made modifications to search results snippet length – from 160 characters to 320.

Meta description example:

long tail keywords
  1. Use Actionable and Active Voice

Do you want to get search visitors at the tip of their toes and instantly click your link?

So what is the better way than to make your meta description strong and actionable.

Meta description is an invitation to your web page.

So, you just cannot make it some “mixed metaphor that implicitly describes some non-existent entity”.

In simple words, eliminate dull descriptions.

Refer the image below for meta descriptions that are active.

yoast seo
  1. Include a Call-to-Action in Your Meta Description

“Hello, we offer “such and such” service/product, do you want it?”

Do you use this sort of metas?

If your answer is yes, then you better reconsider your writing strategy for meta descriptions.

Although it is an active voice, it is nothing but a sales pitch where your product page is linked but not exactly the product on your page is linked.

Invitations such as “Know more”, “Try for free”, “Get it now”, often come to mind and make better choices.

3d scanner
  1. Add Structured Content in Your Meta Description

Does this mean that you just add well-structured content for your meta descriptions?

Well, no. Not at all. This involves making your description more valuable by adding important function.

Say you have some product for a tech-savvy audience, then focusing on the technical aspects of the product you offer can be a great way to write good meta description.

You can also add elements such as price details, SKU, manufacturer, etc.

So, if a search visitor is specifically searching for that particular product, then the chances are that your do not even have to convince him/her.

Elements like these will instantly make them click on your link.

This is because information like price are known to trigger clicks.

NOTE: You can also try using rich snippets for this.

The following image is a good example for a well-structured meta description:

apple ipone6
  1. Your Meta Description Should Match the Content of Your Page

This is extremely important!

Yes, there is no way that you will create meta descriptions that trick the users to a page with totally different content on it.

Google finds out such meta descriptions and heavily penalizes the sites that created such descriptions.

Besides, doing this will also increase your bounce rate – an important factor that decides your ranking on SERPs.

So, it is extremely important to write your meta description to match the content on your landing page.

expert commentary
  1. Include the Primary Search Keyword

Having the primary search keyword in your description is also necessary.

If a search keyword matches your text in the description, then Google tends to get more inclined towards your meta description.

Ultimately, your link gets highlighted in the search results, making your link more related.

image
  1. Create Unique Meta Descriptions

Now, do you want to make a great user experience or not?

Well, that is the aim of every business with an online presence.

If you want to achieve this, then you have to focus on writing unique meta descriptions.

Having duplicate meta descriptions can make a negative or less impactful user experience in the Google.

Although page titles look different on SERPs, due to the standard length of the descriptions, all of them may appear the same on SERPs.

However, if you intentionally want to have duplicate meta description, then the best option is to leave that blank and let Google choose a snippet from your page in continuation with the keyword used in the search.

To ensure that there are no duplicates in your descriptions, just try using the following two tools:

I have So Many Web Pages, Where Do I Start From?

Do you also have the same question?

OR

Do you want to change all the meta descriptions you have after reading this post?

Well, we know how daunting and exhaustive it is to write unique descriptions to every single page you have.

Besides, where can you find the time to do that?

Now Google, actually has an answer to this:

When you do not have sufficient time to create unique description for every page, then begin prioritizing your content. At least try to write unique descriptions for critical URLs such as your important product pages, home page and other popular pages.

Just implement this and you are all set.

However, just be sure to optimize all the meta descriptions that you create from now on.

My Meta Description is Not Showing up – What Do I Do?

Your meta description does not show up in either of the two scenario

1. Your description is not matching the content on your landing page

2. Your description is a duplicate of the meta description of another website

In both these cases, Google will not find it appropriate to display your meta description.

So, the next time your description does not appear, it simply means that the Google just made up some description for you.

Your next question would certainly be “What can I do to avoid this”?

Well, the only option is to write unique descriptions that are relevant to your landing page.

I Want to Use a Different Description for Social Sharing? How Do I Go About?

Have you installed Yoast SEO?

In that case, all that you have to do is to just check the “social” tab provided in the box on the “edit pages”.

If you are really keen about going with different description for social media, then you should consider Yoast SEO premium.

In Yoast SEO premium there is also an option of social previews.

Alternatively, you can add Twitter Cards and/or OpenGraph tags to your site and then use any description of your choice.

Troubleshooting Title Tags and Meta Descriptions

What would you do even when all of your title tags and meta descriptions are well written but are not fetching the desired results?

Well, this is exactly where troubleshooting comes into picture.

Once you learn to meddle with your titles and descriptions to make them search engine friendly, you will automatically see your website ranking higher and higher in the SERPs.

Although there is not one single, hard-and-fast rule to achieve this, a combination of all the methods discussed above will certainly work wonders for you.

Can I Write Title and Descriptions for Optimizing Click Through Rates?

Are you also one among those who want to know whether you can actually write titles and descriptions to optimize your click through rate?

If your answer is yes, then you are at the right place.

So, how do you tackle meta descriptions and title tags?

The best way to begin with is to consider the end users/search visitors in mind rather than writing metas for the search engines.

Including important keywords in your metas is extremely important. But wait . . .

That is not the only way to optimize metas. There is more to it. . .

You can take metas to the next level by creating these tags with the purpose of motivating your search visitors to click on them.

Just like how pay-per-click ads work.

Are you ready for some quick tips to improve your click through rates?

Then here we go:

  1. Adding action verbs that encourage search visitors to act instantly – using terms like “book now”, “find out more”, “shop now”, “sign up for free” etc.
  2. Highlight your value propositions, such as “1-minute sign up”, “free”, “voted as easiest to vote”, “used by millions of successful businesses” etc.
  3. Emphasize on important phrases by capitalizing them
  4. Using unique characters and punctuation

While using these tips make sure that your metas do not sound too pitch-oriented or spammy.

The goal here is to catch the attention of the search visitors and improving the rate of interaction without sounding too salesy.

Tweaking descriptions and meta titles to entail these features not only increases your click through rates but also improves your ranking position in search engines.

Furthermore, Google notices and rewards websites that manage to make higher interactions with higher positions in search results.

Summing Up

Search terminologies and SEO jargons may sound extremely overwhelming if you have just begun learning about SEO.

Writing unique and great titles and descriptions is certainly an important task, but it is definitely not the only factor to influence your rankings on search engines.

Time to Put Your Skills to Work

Implement the above discussed tips to work your way up to the top on SERPs.

However, make sure that you do not overdo or make your pitch too salesy to get the desired results.

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