Boosting your site’s SEO is all about getting your site content to rank as high as possible in search engine results. The higher you rank, the more eyeballs you reach and the more traffic you get.
Search engine optimization requires long-form, meaningful content that is engaging for your personas and supplemented with strategic keyword targeting. And a critical part of optimizing your content for search engine ranking is getting your metadata right.
What Is Metadata?
Metadata, also known as meta tags, are bits of text that you include in your website pages’ code. You don’t see meta information on the page itself in your browser. This text shows up in the page’s search results.
Meta tags have two primary purposes:
- To let people know what your page is all about, so they can decide if they want to visit it or not, and
- To tell Google what your page is all about, so it can more easily sort it and rank it in response to user search inquiries
What is a Meta Title?
The meta title is the name of the page. It’s what you see as the title of each search result in Google.
In the example below, the meta title is the part that says: “Why A/B Testing Makes for Better Websites - BK Media Group”
What is a Meta Description?
In the example above, the meta description is the smaller text beneath the meta title that says “A/B testing has the power to improve your eCommerce website, increasing sales and saving money on marketing and development.”
One thing many people may not realize is that Google doesn’t always show your meta description. It decides what to show users based on what they searched for.
If a snippet of your page’s body copy has words that match a user’s search inquiry and your meta description doesn’t, Google may display that instead. Either way, Google and other search engines are still looking at the meta description to determine if and where to rank your page in search results.
Why Does Metadata Matter?
Well-composed metadata makes it easy for people to know that your page has exactly what they’re looking for. And it can help your page get ranked higher by Google.
But you gotta know what the heck you’re doing for that to happen. Fortunately, we’ve got the pro tips to get you there.
How to Write a Good Meta Title
Just like some blog headlines are better than others, there are good page meta titles and bad page meta titles.
You want your title to:
- Clearly and succinctly describe what the page is about with terms your audience will understand
- Be unique — no two pages on your site should have the same meta title
- Follow a standardized structure across your website (e.g., first letter of each word capitalized)
When writing the meta title for a page, you should also keep the following in mind:
Meta title length
Your meta title won’t be so helpful if people can’t see half of it. That’s why you need to keep it short!
Unfortunately, there’s no one character limit for meta titles because they’re displayed differently depending on the screen, browser viewing settings, and more.
However, research shows that a meta title between 50 and 60 characters long will be fully displayed properly 90% of the time.
Meta title keywords
Search engines like Google look at metadata (as well as the page’s body copy and header copy) when ranking search results. The closer your meta title matches the exact search terms people are using, the more likely your page is to get a higher ranking.
For example, if most people are searching for “how to write metadata” but your meta title is “how to write meta tags”, you’re ever-so-slightly missing the mark.
To include keywords in your meta titles, you need to know which ones to target. That is, which ones are getting a decent search volume that are fairly easy to rank for and that attract a relatively high organic click-thru rate. To figure out all of that, you need to do your organic keyword research »
How to Write a Good Meta Description
Your meta description should clearly explain the content of your page while also presenting a compelling pitch to get people to visit your site. But it also needs to follow similar protocols as a meta title.
Again, it’s all about length and keywords. Keywords work the same here as described above for meta titles.
When it comes to length, Google will cut off your meta description at around 155 to 160 characters. Prevailing wisdom says to make meta descriptions at least 50 characters long, and under 160 characters long.
As an example, here’s the meta description for this very page you’re looking at now:
“Everything you need to know about how to write the perfect meta title and description for improved search engine ranking.”
This is getting really meta, huh?
And you don’t have to be a professional developer to write metadata. Most site publishing platforms have field for you to input your metadata. It’s super easy.
The Perfect Metadata? Check. Now What?
When done right, organic content can bring a ton of new traffic to your site. BKMedia Group’s organic content (with killer metadata) for our client Carefree Dental brought a 384% boost in site traffic and a nearly 50% increase in sales!
But like we said before, metadata is just a part of the puzzle. Your content needs to align with your audience’s interests and address their needs. How to figure that out? Persona development.