This guest post was created by Helen Miller (Marketing Manager at Template Monster). Many thanks to Helen for making this available to our readers.
Not all the content of an HTML page is visible to end users. Metadata that reside in the webpage’s header is visible to search engine crawlers (and others who view the source code). Nevertheless, it’s still important for you as a part of the on-page SEO (Search Engine Optimization). In this article I give a brief characteristic of the most frequently used metatags and determine their role in on-page SEO in 2017.
What is Metatag?
Metatag is an HTML tag that is situated in the webpage’s header and provides crawlers with the information about the information, presented on the page. Metadata is meant to specify post description, author, date of publication and other relevant information that’s useful for crawlers.
Notwithstanding the fact that all modern browsers, such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera and IE, support metatags, not all the metatags are actually attended to by the search engines. The reason for this is that Internet space has evolved over time, and some metatags that were abused by spammers in the past, are now ignored by crawlers, and do not affect your page’s ranking.
What are Most Used Keywords and How to Optimize for Them?
In this article, we’ll speak about the three most important metatags, such as Title, Description and Keywords metatags. Let’s look into them one by one and determine their optimal length, examine their examples and go for tips on how to optimize for them to maximally boost your on-page SEO.
Make Your Statement: Title Tag
Title tag is not metadata per se, although it’s specified in the website’s header. Title tag is visible not only to crawlers, but to website users as well, which makes it double important. First of all, people searching for a certain keyword see what’s specified in your title tag on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page). For this reason, your title used in the title tag is also referred to as a SEO title. Secondly, SEO title appears in your browser window’s header on the tab that stands for opened page. Lastly, it gets displayed in social networks when your post gets shared.
SEO title is very important in decision-making process of potential website guests. It’s the boldest text displayed in your SERP entry. Moreover, crawlers do attend to it and will display your website’s page based on the keywords that your SEO title contains. The closer the keyword to the beginning of the title, the more likely it’s to be displayed.
How Does It Look from Inside?
Title tag is added to the head part of an HTML page and typically looks like shown in the following example:
CMS engines tend to make your life simpler (which is not always desired) and form the SEO title automatically based on the provided page title. This is often not what you desire. To get the desired, optimized SEO title, you’ll have to resort to one of the useful (in many ways) SEO plugins, e.g. Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress.
With this plugin you get an opportunity to point a SEO title that’s optimized for certain keywords and boost your on page SEO by this.
How to Optimize Your Title Tag?
The main tips that concern your title tag optimization are the following:
- Length: the optimal length of a title tag is 50 – 60 characters (including spaces). Do not exceed this limit as your title will be cut off by search engines. Do not be too concise: use your chance to use your limit of 50 – 60 characters to the fullest.
- Placement of a keyword: your focus keyword should be shifted to the beginning of the title; then come the least important words.
- Use unique title tag: your title tag should be unique for every page on your website. Do not duplicate your title tags for max SEO impact.
- Mind relevance: watch out you title tag’s relevance. If Google or other search engine would deem your title tag irrelevant, they’ll replace it with an automatically generated one that would hardly be as good as your coined one.
- Avoid keyword stuffing: if your repeat your keyword over and over or stuff your title with multiple keywords, search engines would penalize you for such a practice, so avoid it.
- Make your article title different from SEO title: this is your extra chance to rank for different keywords with one post.
Let’s now review an example of how these tips can be used in practice:
In our case the focus keyword is ‘best burgers in London’. The SEO title of an article was optimized in the following way:
This is a very well-optimized title as it starts with the focal keyword that is then followed by a very appealing headline that uses ‘buns’ instead of ‘burgers’ to avoid repetition. The SEO title fits into the maximum length of the title tag, so the title is not cut off on the SERP.
What Your Article Is About: Description Metatag
Description metatag is used to provide a brief description of your page’s/post’s content to crawlers, so that they know what your page/post is about. A well-written description is often displayed by search engines on the SERP, so users may read it and make a decision whether to open your website based on it. If a search engine finds your meta-description not good enough, it will replace it with text snippets from your article on the SERP.
Google has recently stated that it does not rank pages for keywords used in the meta-description. However, it’s still important for your on page SEO as it does tell the search engines what your content is about (and helps them make a decision whether to crawl the page further), and, if displayed, influences user’s decision making process on SERP, thus, influencing your click-through rates.
How Does It Look in HTML?
Description metatag has the following look in HTML:
How to Optimize Description Metatag?
Follow the tips below to get a concise and informative meta-description:
- Length: limit your meta description to no more than 155 characters. Search engines can display only a limited number of words on the SERP. If your meta-description is longer than this, it will be cut off in the middle of what you have to say. I bet this is not a desired result.
- Include a CTA: if you want your description to work better for you on the SERP, add a short CTA (Call To Action) to it. ‘Read more’ or ‘Find out more’ would suffice.
- Use a unique description: go for a description that has not been already used, otherwise you may run into serious duplicate content issues and your content will be ignored by search engines.
- Include keywords anyway: although Google doesn’t rank for keywords in meta-description, they are highlighted in bold on the SERP. This means that users will pay more attention to your SERP entry if you include a keyword to your article. See an example below:
They Are Still There: Keywords Metatag
I may say that currently Keywords metatag is passé and is completely ignored by search engines (except for Bing that looks on them just with the purpose of penalizing spammy websites). How did this happen?
As keywords are the core of search on the net, Keywords metatag became an easy abuse target. In the past, website owners, eager to boost their SEO rank and traffic, ‘stuffed’ absolutely unrelated (but popular on the net) keywords for their article. For instance, they inserted ‘Rihanna’ as a keyword to a page about spare parts and fooled search engines by this.
At present, search engines got wiser, and completely abandoned Keywords metatag to avoid all sorts of ‘keyword stuffing’.
How Does This Metatag Look in HTML?
Keywords metatag has the following appearance in an HTML document:
How to Optimize for Keywords Metatag?
There is no need to care for this metatag any more. Some SEO experts say it’s totally OK to leave it out completely, others advice to still go for a couple of keywords, ‘just in case’. It’s up to you whether to provide keywords in this metatag or not, but don’t ponder over this question too long.
To boost your on page SEO, its important to pay careful attention to such page head elements as title tag and meta-description. Make sure you use your focal keyword in these elements and keep close to the max length limit for the elements, but do not exceed it. Regarding Keywords metatag, it’s kind of passé, so the need for its even minimal optimization is dubious.
If you want to learn more about SEO optiomization of a website, get hold of the following insightful free e-book:
Are there any topic-related questions that I’ve missed? Let me know in the comment section below and I’ll be happy to get back with you.
Thanks again to Helen Miller (Template Monster) for providing this post.