When optimising a site for search it is very important that the meta data in the source code is examined and tailored to deliver maximum impact. There are various types of meta data. Some, by their nature, are pretty standard across most websites, but there are a few that can be easily “tweaked” and these can present real opportunities to help gain a competitive edge.
Meta data is written into the HTML code of a webpage. Search engines detect this formatted data and use it to deduce certain information about the content and structure of the webpage. While this data is not visible directly when viewing the page, it is shown in search results (see below).
Two key types of meta data are the ‘Title’ tag and the ‘Meta Description’ tag, which have very important implications for site ranking and click-through rates.
While some basic HTML coding knowledge is required to implement meta data directly, many websites have a ‘Content Management System’ or admin facility which allows this meta data to be generated without the need for any coding. For example, WordPress, the most widely used CMS, has a multitude of ‘plug-ins’ to make this process relatively simple.
Search engines pay particular attention to title tags when indexing sites as they regard them as very strong indicators of the web pages subject matter. They use the title tags to match search queries, so it critical to optimise the title tag based on your keyword research.
Here’s an example of how Google does it, and you can see the close correlation between the search term and how the title tag is constructed.
Here’s how the title tag is constructed in the code:
<title>Fruit Veg Delivery Dublin | Fruit Veg Buy Online Dublin | Irish Seasonal Fruit Veg | Fresh Irish Fruit Veg </title>
Tips for composing the title tag
- Compose with the main keywords you want to be found for and separate by “|” Here’s an example for a solar panel company: Solar Panels | Renewable Energy | Solar Systems Ireland
- Each page should have a unique title tag.
- Max no of characters is 70
- Most important keywords at the start
Meta description tags, while not as important to search engine rankings as other data, are extremely important in gaining user click-through to your site, offering the opportunity to advertise your content to searchers and let them know you have exactly what they’re looking for.
Here is a good example of how the description can be used to entice someone browsing to click through to the site and possibly make a purchase.
Compare this to this one below. Why not use the available space to promote or give details of an offer?
- Set the max no of characters for the description at 155.
Many websites are missing a trick when it comes to meta data and not taking advantage of the easy wins it presents. “Telling” the search engines what your site is about using keywords in the title tag will help people find your site.
Also, with crowded results pages, making best use of every little bit of online real estate and using those meta descriptions effectively can be the difference between a user clicking on your website or that of your competitors.