You do not have to be an SEO pro to create clean, crisp, well-optimized meta tags for your businesses website. Meta tags are the title and description tags you place in website’s code that become the visible links within search engine results. Setting correct meta tags is really the first step (besides just making your website crawlable) to applying SEO to your website. If you have a small business, you are likely working with WordPress, Magento or some other content management system that takes care of many crawling issues.
As a small business owner, you do not have SEO teams, or even an SEO manager most of the time. You do have a website though, and you want it to rank well on search engines. You might feel you do not have the time it takes to optimize your webpages, but this is . Well my friend, this post will be really helpful for many of your SEO woes, since this is the second largest area in SEO websites have issues with, next to links, which is another story.
Even still today, I see many issues with business website’s meta tags, such as:
- Duplicate meta tags caused by your Content Management System (CMS) or website template
- Duplicate meta tags caused by a pagination issue
- Duplicate meta tags due to canonicalization issue (which is a larger issue itself)
- Not having title or meta tags
- Being too long so they ellipticize (…) what might be important traffic generating keywords.
- Being too short and ineffective at getting clicks
This post is just an overview of three (3) key types of pages you need well optimized tags for.
This is an example of well-optimized meta tag for your homepage
Make sure to put your business name first. It signifies to users they are entering the main page of the site. The keywords the both search engines and people, what it is you do and what you are a source of information for.
Notice the business name and the use of a pipe, or “|”, used between it and the main keyword. Google allows 600 pixels of length in the meta title. This is close to 65 characters, depending on your use of long characters, like m and w, and short characters, like i and j.
The pipe is the most useful divider for titles since it is thin on pixel-width and hangs low like some lowercase letters (known as descenders, such as g and p)and stands tall like capitalized letters and ascenders, such as h and b. The pipe stands out and helps dive thoughts, without sacrificing your real estate for keywords.
This is an example of a meta tag written for a category or subpage
After the homepage, you will begin work on your category pages, or subpages. These are typically navigational and will need your business name in it. You can use a shorter alias here if you have a long business name with “, Inc.” or “& Assoc.” in it to maximize your space for keywords. You still want people to know they are entering your site. However, now they have skipped a click and some navigating on your homepage to be much closer to the result they are looking for.
Your meta description, while not a ranking factor for Google and other search engines, is still highly important. It is the elevator pitch of the page, so to speak. It is what drives clicks and in many A/B tests, found to make real impacts on the amount of clicking one description can garner over another.
Just like your paid search ads and working toward higher quality scores and more clicks, try testing your descriptions to see what impact you can make long-term on the amount of the total traffic you can get from the finite amount of searches that happen each month.
This is an example of meta tags written for a product/service page, blog post, or another piece of deep-level content
At this point, it is best to drop the business name. Often, it takes up too much room for what long-tail keywords you will need for these pages. Also, from a branded search query’s perspective (searches that contain a brand’s name like “Nike running shoes”), you have lost your market share at this point, in many consumers mind. They have no brand preference at this point and are looking for a solution, no matter who the provider is.
Now, let me throw a huge word at you – latent semantic indexing. This is a process use by Google Search that gives more weight and authority to a site’s overall “area of thought” rather than to just the specific keywords and density of their use on a website. What this means is that pages will have an easy time ranking for what they specifically help solve, inform user on, or help users do. A single page will have a tough time ranking for an abundance of keywords, however, which is why content marketing has grown so quickly. Google is indexing and placing so many pieces of content that sheer volume seems like the route to most success.
Hopefully, this post has shown you that volume is not the answer as much as expertise and quality. It is not more information people need, but the right information. By titling and describing your pages well, you can receive the amount and quality of traffic your site deserves.
Big thanks to the people at Portent for making the tool that helps me produce this post’s images and all my posts’ meta tags! You can use their SERP preview tool to help you size up and write beautiful titles and descriptions as well. The tool has a pixel counter for the title, a character counter for the description, a URL preview, and even makes an entire preview of what it will all look like in a Google Search result page.