How to Nail Your Meta Title and DescriptionJune 5, 2019
When you want to find out crucial information about something, where do you go? You head on over to Google (or another search engine, but we’re still convinced those are a myth). After typing in your query and clicking ‘Google Search’, a page full of results will pop up and fill your screen.
Each entry within that page then displays a whole heap of information about the website it links to, including a title and a few lines of descriptive text. This is collectively referred to as meta information, which can be broken down into the meta title and meta description.
What do meta titles and descriptions do?
Meta titles and descriptions serve two purposes. Firstly, they tell users about the relevance of your site to their query, as they’re able to read this when results appear and base their selection on that additional information. Your meta title and description should help you stand out from the crowd for the best chance of getting clicked on.
Secondly, they tell Google -- indirectly -- about the quality of your website. Although Google has explicitly stated meta titles and descriptions don’t have a bearing on how a site ranks, they do impact click-through rate. Google can then utilise information about how many users are clicking on your link to inform their ranking algorithm, so in an inadvertent way, it’s doubly important to drill down on your meta information.
As a result, your meta title and description should be clear, creative and easy to read. The meta title also has an additional purpose -- it’s displayed at the top of your browser as a marker of what page or tab you have open. This is another reason to keep things relevant and free of mistakes.
Optimising your meta title
This example SERP shows where the meta title is on an entry.
The meta title is the first line of text that appears in each search result, as shown in the image above. Most CRMs or blog platforms will simply pull the title of your post or page and use this as the meta title, but if you want to, this is easy to override.
A good meta title should firstly be under 60 characters. Google truncates your meta title anywhere between 50-60 characters, so keeping it under this limit is key. After all, there’s no point in writing a beautifully-crafted title for it to make no sense to searchers.
Now, the actual content of your meta title. Every meta title you write should give readers an idea of the content within your post, as well as who you are as a brand or business. You can use vertical bars, hyphens or bullets to separate the title of your post from the name of your blog or site for clarity.
Here are a few examples of good meta titles:
How to Write a Fantastic Blog Post • Digistorm Blog
Writing the Perfect Blog Post for Your School | Digistorm Blog
It’s also important to ensure you’re hitting on the primary keyword of the post, as this will draw readers in and improve your post’s chances of appearing in related searches more frequently. In the above, you can see that our keyword is likely ‘writing a blog post’, or perhaps just ‘blog post’. Remember that you don’t have to use the keyword exactly, as Google is smart and knows how to interpret variations in syntax.
Optimising your meta description
This example SERP shows where the meta description is on an entry.
The meta description refers to the 1-3 lines of text that appear under your post’s URL, as shown in the image above. You should use these sentences to really establish what your post is about, as well as to encourage searchers to click through and read your post. Unlike the meta title, you’ll have to write your meta description every time, unless the platform you use has the unique functionality to pull text from elsewhere in the post.
So, what are some qualities of a good meta description? Well, to start with, it should be anywhere between 50-300 characters in length. Google will truncate your snippet after 300 characters, and as we established with our meta title, that’s not a desirable outcome at all!
Everything you need to say, though, will easily fit into 300 characters -- this should never feel like a limitation, because if it does, you’re missing the point of a meta description. You want to succinctly summarise what your post is about and why searchers should click on it instead of their many other options. The first sentence, as a result, should be a creative yet informative depiction of what readers of your post should expect.
A good meta description also includes a call to action to encourage searchers to click away at your entry above all others. You can play around with the wording here, but essentially, you want to make them feel as if your post has the most relevance to them, and should be clicked on right away. Use words and phrases like ‘discover’, ‘explore’, ‘learn more’ or even ‘click’ (blunt but effective) to spur your readers on and encourage high click-through rates.
Finally, your meta description should incorporate your keyword as effectively as possible. Similarly to with your meta title, you can vary the overall phrasing to fit in with your sentence structure, as long as your focus is clear.
Here are a few examples of great meta descriptions:
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To summarise, here are the key characteristics of a good meta description.
- They’re under 300 characters apiece
- They tell the reader what your post is about
- They encourage them to click with a call to action
- They hit on the keywords of ‘blog post’ and/or ‘writing a blog post’ in varied forms
Why not grab a piece of paper or open a new document and start writing some practice meta information? Once you’ve got this skill a little more down-pat, you can try and change the titles and descriptions on your blog posts or web pages. When you do, just make sure to make a note of the date you’ve made any changes so you can accommodate for any spikes or dips that may occur.
Do you feel more confident at writing great meta titles and descriptions? Let us know over on Facebook or Twitter!