What Are Title Tags and Meta Descriptions? Easy Tips to Boost Traffic

What Are Title Tags and Meta Descriptions? Easy Tips to Boost Traffic

You're probably here because you were updating your website and got a report saying that you're either missing title tags and meta descriptions or your title tags and meta descriptions are not optimized.

You might be wondering what title tags and meta descriptions are and whether they are essential. This guide will highlight everything you need to know about title tags and meta descriptions.

What Are Title Tags?

A title tag is an HTML element that specifies a web page's title. Title tags appear in the browser title bar and search engine results pages (SERPs). In search engine results pages, titles appear as the blue text users click to get to your page.

A screenshot of a Google search for "SERP". The top 3 search results are labeled 1 through 3.

The main goal of a title tag is to give users and search engines information about your page. Because title tags are displayed at the top of browser tabs, they remain visible during a user's session and make it possible for the user to find their way back to your site.

Why Are Title Tags Important in Search Engine Optimization?

For starters, title tags help search engines determine what your page is all about and gain an overview of your content.

Second, title tags provide a quick overview of your page's content to users and help them determine whether your content is relevant to them. The title is your first chance to catch the attention of potential customers and set yourself apart from competitors.

Keep in mind, if your page title misleads someone and they don't find what they're looking for, they'll most likely leave the page. If users leave your page too soon, this will raise your bounce rate, which will hurt the health of the website.

If you feel like you’ve got the SEO basics down, check out our SEO Made Easy Guide, which dives a little bit deeper into the SEO specifics.

Tips to Write a Good Title:

Because title tags are crucial for both SEO and the search user experience, writing them well is a fantastic, low-effort, and high-impact SEO task. Here are some factors to keep in mind while writing SEO title tags.

  • Pay attention to title length — On a search engine results page, Google displays the top 50-60 characters of your title tag, so use a headline that is clear, concise, easy to read, and that correctly represents your web page.
  • Include a keyword but don't stuff your title with keywords — Because the title tag is one of the primary ways Google's algorithm determines what a page is about, it's wise to have the major keyword or keywords you're targeting for that page in your title. Make sure not to stuff the title with keywords.
  • Be specific — You want your title tag to accurately describe what people will see if they choose to visit your website.
  • Give every page a unique title — Your title tags should reflect the uniqueness of each page on your website. Make sure the title tags on every page of your website are customized to represent the page's content appropriately.
  • Write for the reader — Focus on writing content for the reader, not the search engine

Why Won't Google Use My Title Tag?

Google may display a title that differs from what you've specified in your HTML. When this happens, it can be upsetting, but there isn't a simple solution to make the search engine pick the title you've selected. There are three possible explanations for this:

  • Your title is overstuffed with keywords
  • You have a title that is too long
  • Your title does not correctly reflect your page's content
  • You included an alternate title

What Are Meta Descriptions?

A graphic showing a search for "my business"

A meta description, also known as a description tag, is an HTML element that gives a quick overview of a web page. The meta description is displayed in search engine results pages below the title and URL of your page as part of the search snippet. In essence, the description tag is a brief statement that correctly and succinctly defines the content of a web page for users and the Googlebot.

Google usually cuts off descriptions that go beyond 155-160 characters. Your meta description should be long enough to explain your page adequately and short enough to read easily.

Why Are Meta Descriptions Important?

In the past, people used the meta description tag for keyword stuffing. Google reacted by altering its algorithm. Since then, the description tag does not affect a site's rankings. However, because the description tag helps the user understand the website's content, it influences a website's click-through rate and traffic.

A good meta tag will increase your click-through rate. More users who view your page in search results will click through and visit your site. Even if your ranking stays the same, this means extra traffic for you.

Why Doesn't Google Show My Meta Descriptions?

The title tag and meta description are just ideas for what search engines should provide in their results. Search engines are under no obligation to show users exactly what you want. It can be frustrating, but there's a reason why that happens.

Here are some reasons why Google is not displaying your meta description.

  • The meta description you provided is not relevant to the search query.
  • Your meta description is too long or too short.
  • You have more than one meta description in your page source code.
  • Google prefers other content on your page for the description and ignores your custom meta description.
  • You have not specified a meta description.

Understanding the Link Between User Experience and SEO

A balancing scale with two sides. One side holds "SEO" and one holds "UX". The scales are trying to balance out.

The days of keyword stuffing to increase ranks are long gone. Search engines are moving their focus to human experience and behavior. When it comes to building a high-ranking website, SEO and user experience (UX) work hand in hand.

To better understand people, search engines collect user and website data. They examine how users engage with a website, and if they don't like the information, you can bet your ranking will suffer.

One of the ways Google tracks user experience is through bounce rates. Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave a web page without taking an action, such as clicking on a link, filling out a form, or making a purchase.

For example, if the homepage of a website receives 1,000 visitors for a month, and 500 of those visitors leave the site after viewing the homepage without proceeding to any other pages, then the bounce rate of the homepage would be 50%.

Websites with a high bounce rate are missing something the user is searching for and, therefore, rank lower. Websites with lower bounce rates are more likely to assist users in finding what they're looking for. These sites will usually appear higher in the search results.

Even though search engine algorithms make search queries with title tags and meta descriptions, it is ultimately the user who will read your content.

Misleading users with your title tags and descriptions will create a bad user experience which is the number one reason for high bounce rate and low conversions. To boost user experience, write for your reader, not the search engine.

How To Add a Meta Description on WordPress

WordPress SEO plugins simplify adding meta descriptions to each post and page on your website from the WordPress admin area. Here is how to add a meta description on WordPress using the Yoast SEO plugin:

  • Install the Yoast SEO plugin — You'll need to download the Yoast SEO plugin first before you can start adding meta tags to your content. You will find it in your dashboard's Plugins tab by searching for "Yoast SEO."
  • Add metadata to your posts and pages — After activating the plugin, go to Pages > All or Posts > All, depending on what kind of material you wish to add meta tags to. After clicking Edit, go to the bottom of the screen to see the Yoast SEO section. In the Focus Key field, type your primary keyword. Then, to enter your meta description, click the Edit Snippet button.
  • Save or publish the post or page — If you're satisfied with your meta tags, save the post or page or publish it if you haven't already.

Many marketers tend to turn to WordPress since it’s widely known in the industry. However, many plugins are required with WordPress that often cause the website to work slowly. At Steel Croissant, we use a top-tier alternative known as Webflow, which is much more effective for building customizable and fully-functional websites. Webflow makes it easier to input our SEO content and makes on-page optimizations (especially speed) much easier.

Contact us if you want to move from WordPress to Webflow.

How To Rank Higher for Keywords

A graphic that says "Did you know that the first page of Google search results receives 95% of all traffic?"

Did you know that the first page of Google search results receives 95% of all traffic? If your page is not in the top ten search results for your target keywords, only a few people will find it and visit it.

When a search engine result catches a user's eye, the logical next step is for the user to visit the website to learn more and possibly take action (such as making a purchase).

Most users click on one of the first few results because they don't want to scroll further, have found what they're looking for, or are short on time. As a result, the better the organic search ranking of a company, the higher the click-through rate (CTR).

Tips to increase keyword rankings:

  • Do your research — Find a keyword with a high search volume that’s relevant to your content.
  • Do a competitor analysis — Once you've picked a keyword, look it up on Google and a few other search engines to see what your competitors are using and how they are ranking. Is this an untapped keyword or one that everyone is trying to rank for?
  • Consider search intent — The more precise a keyword is, the easier it is to determine the searcher's intent and serve what those users are likely looking for.
  • Create the content — You can optimize all types of content for SEO, whether it’s a blog post, article, or video.
  • Optimize your content — Apply as many SEO best practices as you can while writing your content. Use catchy title tags, keyword-optimized meta descriptions, headings, and lists to organize your information.
  • Publish and promote — once you have published your content, promote it on social media.
  • Analyze your keyword rankings — Your job isn't done after your article is published and appears in search results. The final step is to evaluate the results. Check how successful your content is to see what works and what doesn't.

Are You Having a Hard Time Implementing Your SEO Strategy?

Optimizing your website's title tags and meta descriptions is just one piece of your SEO strategy. We'd be delighted to assist you in launching efficient SEO tactics. For an interactive consultation, contact Steel Croissant today.

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