There are so many factors that can affect your SEO that it can sometimes simply feel bewildering.

Yet from the days of the very first search engines there has been one thing that has consistently played an important role in determining just where your site is returned on a results page.

It’s called the Meta Title.

Of course, just being on a results page does not mean that people will clickthrough to your site. To ensure this you need something that is going to persuade them to visit your site.

It’s called the Meta Description.

Here’s why you should really care about your site’s Meta Titles and Descriptions, and what you can do to improve them.

What Meta Titles can do for you

The Meta Title is probably the most important part of a website page’s SEO. It carries a lot of weight for search engines when they decide which keywords you should rank for.

It also shows up at the top of your browser…

Example of Meta Title showing at the top of a browser

… on search engine results pages…

Example of Meta Title in search engine results

…and on other sites, such as Facebook or Twitter, when your page is shared.

Example of Meta Title when your page is shared

Creating the perfect Meta Title

• The optimal length for a Meta Title is just 55 characters – anything beyond this gets truncated by Google and may not be considered for ranking purposes
• In these 55 characters you should describe exactly what your page is about
• Every page should carry a unique Title
• You should always favour keywords over brand and place the most important elements first
• If you are a local business you should include locations in your Meta Title

What does this mean in practice? It’s really not rocket science and is refreshingly easy to implement.

Here’s the magic formula:

Primary Keyword | Secondary Keyword (or Location)| Business Name

So, if you are a locksmith called The Lock of Love your home page and 24 hour call-out service page may have the following Titles:

Home page

Locksmith | Brighton & Hove | The Lock of Love

This simply uses a primary keyword, substitutes a location for a secondary keyword and includes the business name.

24 hour call-out service page

24 Hour Emergency Locksmith Service | Brighton & Hove

This merges the primary keyword (24 hour locksmith service) with the secondary keyword (emergency locksmith service), keeping the important element first.

Note also that location is preferred here over business name.

Get the idea?

If you want help deciding on your keywords you can check out this useful guide to the basics or just dive in yourself with the free Keyword Planner from Google.

What Meta Descriptions do for you

You can think of a Meta Description as an advert for your site. It’s the text that is going to persuade someone to visit you.

So it’s pretty important, isn’t it?

Creating the perfect Meta Description

• The meta description should use your keywords as these will be highlighted if they match the search they were returned for
• It should be no more than 155 characters long
• It should describe what the page is about but create a compelling description that a searcher will want to click
• Every page should have a unique description

Take a look at the Meta Description for Moz.

meta titles1

This is an actual Google search result, so let’s break down what the effects of the Description might be.

“Formerly SEOmoz,

(This reassures anyone who doesn’t know their name has changed that they are in the right place.)

Moz’s software

(This defines them as a software solution provider.)

makes inbound marketing easy. Track SEO, social, brand, and content marketing.

(This tells you what they can do for you and includes keywords.)

See what to do next – and learn how to do it!”

(This is a clear invitation to visit the site – a strong call to action.)

What can you take away from this?

Simply that you need to use those keywords, keep it short and make sure it reads like an invitation. Of course, if you really want people to call you rather than visit your site don’t forget to get your phone number in there! And if you are a local business make sure you tell people this.

If you are setting up a new site, or reviewing your current one, we’re always happy to talk through ways you could strengthen what you are doing.

Get in touch!