If you’ve read any of our blog posts concerning SEO or website copywriting, you’ll have probably stumbled across the term ‘website meta data’ before. If you work in any aspect of digital marketing, you probably already know that it’s a vital component of any SEO strategy – but what exactly is meta data when it comes to SEO?
What is website meta data?
Meta data are short snippets of text that act as signposts or labels that tell search engines exactly what a web page is about. They appear in the source code and are generally not visible to the reader on your site – although the page title and meta description appear in search results pages. Essentially they are data about the data on your page.
However, website meta data isn’t a term only used within your content marketing strategy. More generally, the term ‘meta data’ is used in many circumstances. For example, every time you take a photo, a whole bunch of data is gathered alongside the image you intend to post online. These include the date and time, filename, camera settings used and even the geolocation.
Moreover, most of the books you have on your shelves have several standard metadata on the covers and inside, including the title, author name, page numbers and publisher details.
Meta data is used in several ways to help organise, find and understand data. However, for copywriting – and especially writing for SEO – we are interested in the website meta tags and descriptions that will help boost our website rankings, creating a foundation that will ensure we appear higher in the SERPs. Let’s take a look at this in more detail.
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What does website meta data look like in SEO?
Your page’s meta data essentially controls how your entire digital presence is viewed and navigated. You can think of your meta data as the first impressions of your brand or business. For SEO, the two most important pieces of data are the title tag and meta description. You will have come across these every time you hit search on Google or a similar search engine.
Let’s quickly define what we mean by title tag and meta description:
Title Tag: this is the text you’ll see at the top of your browser. Search engines view this text as the “title” of your page.
Website Meta Description: A brief but compelling, 160-character description of the page displayed in the SERPs lets visitors know what a page is about.
You can think of the meta title and the meta description as the front garden of your webpage. How enticing does it look? Does it make you want to step inside or keep on walking? These tags act as your elevator pitch, and you have only a few characters to nail it.
Using meta tags correctly is like using the correct format for a business email, says Neil Patel. Sure, you can put whatever you like out there, but there’s a level of professionalism that’s expected at some point. Miss a trick, and you most definitely won’t be the first pick.
But how do website Meta Descriptions and Title Tags affect SEO?
Title tags could be considered the most critical meta tags as they have a significant impact on search rankings, as well as influencing those vital first impressions we mentioned earlier. Moz explains, ‘title tags are the second most important on-page factor for SEO, after content.’ They appear not only on the search engine results page but also at the top of your search browser.
When writing your title tags, ensure you are informed with up-to-date keyword research as you’ll want to include a relevant keyword. This is not only important for Google, but it is vital for the real people reading your title tag too. If your title tag isn’t optimised, then potential customers may skip right over your content. And if customers aren’t clicking on your page in the SERPs, then search engines may determine that your page isn’t as good as it could be, which will affect your ranking.
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Here are a few things to remember when writing your title tags:
- Title tags should be short. The character limits for title tags in Google search results are 78 on mobile devices and 70 on a desktop. However, Google typically shows no more than 60 characters at a time.
- Long-tail keywords should be prioritised – this will make all the difference.
- Title tags should describe a benefit. This is the headline to your page – tell your reader why clicking on the search result is bound to change their life.
- Avoid boilerplate or duplicate title tags and keyword stuffing unless you want to end up in Google’s bad books. If Google thinks you’re trying to bend the rules or your title tag doesn’t accurately represent the web page, it may sometimes rewrite it for you – which you have no control over.
Similarly to title tags, meta descriptions also create those first impressions of your brand as they help users decide if they want to click on your website when it appears in the search results. However, they are also an important factor used by the Google algorithm that helps determine what pages should rank well for certain keywords.
Use website meta descriptions properly, and you can increase click-through rates and ultimately rank higher in the SERPs.
Here are a few things to remember when writing your website meta descriptions:
- Use a call-to-action to encourage potential customers to click on your website.
- Focus on the value of your brand and describe what you offer. Use action words such as ‘learn, see, or listen’ to entice people to interact and engage with your content.
- Remember character limits – go over 150 characters, and your meta description will be cut short by Google.
- Do your research and include keywords, but – as always – stay away from keyword stuffing.
- Be unique and interesting to stand out. Avoid repetitive language and boring boilerplates and tailor your meta descriptions to your brand’s tone of voice and style. Unoriginality won’t get you anywhere.
- And finally, A/B test your meta descriptions to see what works best for you and your website.
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So, now you know what website meta data is and why it is a crucial element of your SEO strategy. However, it’s important to remember that your site’s meta data is just one piece of the puzzle. To ensure your site’s SEO is achieving the most for your business, ensuring your website is optimised – copy and all – is essential.
If you think you could benefit from an extra helping hand when it comes to your SEO – get in touch! We’re the SEO copywriters of choice for some of the world’s leading brands, as well as countless SMEs and startups. Over the last ten years, we’ve written millions of words of SEO copy, helping brands achieve higher rankings on search engines.