You know that you’ve got awesome site content that’s ranking well, but for some reason, you aren’t getting the click-through rates you’d hoped for.

If this is the case, you may need to take a look at your meta tag and meta title.

Wait, what are these exactly?

The meta tags and titles are HTML tags. They provide a snippet of information that describes what’s going to be on the page should the user click.

However, this content descriptor does not actually appear on the page. It serves one purpose and one purpose only- to generate clickthroughs from search engines.

And while meta tags and titles aren’t factored into Google’s SEO algorithm, they still affect it. This is because Google’s algorithm does factor in how many clicks a site gets to determine ranking.

So, if your meta description is enticing, more people will click on them. More people clicking means a higher Google ranking.

Although the meta title and description is a just a small quip, it can actually make or break your page’s visibility.

This is because good descriptions not only boost ranking, but they also lower bounce back rate.

Bounce back is when a  user searches Google, clicks on a link but then quickly bounces back to the results page because they didn’t find what they were looking for. A lot of bounce backs tell Google that users aren’t finding what they need on your page, and this can affect your ranking.

And likely, the bounce back was due to a misleading meta title or description. They thought they were finding one thing, but they got another.

So, how do you make sure you nail this oh so important part of SEO?

Keep reading to find out how to create the perfect meta tag and meta title.

Meta Title

1. Keep It Short and Sweet

For the meta title, you’ve only got about 55 characters to work with (including spaces), so there’s no room for fluff.

Keep it concise and focus on the beef of what your page is all about.

2. Keywords

Of course, you’ll never be able to escape keywords when it comes to SEO.

Try to put your primary keywords at the forefront of your title description. If you have room to fit secondary keywords, awesome.

But don’t just stuff them in. Quality writing is always a top priority.

3. To Pipe or Not to Pipe

The pipe is the long line that is used to divide the SEO title into sections. Usually, the pipe divides the description with the name of your brand or business. Using these is up to your discretion, as they truly have no affect on ranking.

If you are working on building brand awareness, it may be a good idea to follow this practice.  However, they do take up a character. So always make sure you’ve included all the characters you need first.

4. Attention Grabbers

While the majority of your text for your meta title should focus on keywords, these keywords should be surrounded by emotion-evoking descriptor words.

Using catchy words like hidden, secret, discover, and find out are great for drawing in your audience.

Here are a couple of examples of the top meta titles that show up after typing in “getting approved for mortgage”

  • 6 Tips To Get Approved for a Mortgage- Investopedia
  • How to Get Approved for a Mortgage- Money Under 30
  • Why Getting Pre-Approved for a Mortgage is a Sham- Forbes

Meta Tag

You’ll find that the meta tag and meta title follow a lot of the same rules. Let’s take a look at how to follow up your title with a good tag:

1. Short and Sweet

Although you have a little more wiggle room, you still should keep your tag to about 130-160 words.

There is no exact number that has proven to be the best, so that’s why we’re giving a range here. Plus, Google has the right to tweak your tag slightly.

For example, they may add a date to an article, which will reduce the number of characters, meaning some at the end may get cut off.

Again, don’t waste any time on fluff language. You’ll want to edit this tag ruthlessly. If a word doesn’t need to be in there, take it out.

2. Keywords

Again, can’t forget about those keywords.

These will be displayed in bold, making it easy to draw the searcher’s attention to your result and click on it.

3. Stay Active

Your tag should be phrased using active voice and be actionable as well.

Basically, tell people what they can do on your page.

For example, let’s say you type “sommelier training” into the search.

An actionable description may say: “Prepare for a wine career in as little as 10 weeks…”

4. Include a Call-to-Action

Your call-to-action is a promise of what’s on the other side if the user clicks on your site.

Phrases like “Try for free,” “Learn more,” and “Get it now,” are all useful.

Basically, you are selling your page to the audience with this phrasing, so make sure to keep it enticing.

5. Keep Your Promise

Probably the most important aspect of a meta tag is that it actually matches the content on the page.

Don’t mislead your readers. Not only will this annoy them and deter them from staying on your page, it will also annoy Google.

Remember, Google pays attention to bounce back rates, and they can even penalize you for misleading information.

So follow through on your tag with a page that contains matching content.

6. Make it Unique

Your description not only needs to be unique from your competitor’s but unique from your other pages as well.

Each page of your site should have its own description that clearly illustrates what it offers differently than the other pages.

To check for duplicate material, go to Google Webmaster Tools > HTML Improvements.

Here are a couple of examples for meta tags that show up first page with the search “improve SEO”:

“This article reveals 10 elements that not only improve usability on your site, but also help increase your SEO ranking.”

“Follow these suggestions, and watch your website rise the ranks to the top of search-engine results.”

Meta Title and Meta Tag Final Thoughts

Now that you know the best practices for meta titles and descriptions, it’s time to implement them.

However, titles and tags are only one small piece of the SEO puzzle. If you need help putting all the pieces together, contact us for help.