So your website is mobile responsive, user-friendly, full of rich valuable content, and high in the SEO rankings, but you are still not getting enough traffic. Having high website rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPS) when people search Google for your business, products, or services is crucial for improving the traffic to your website. However, none of this means much if people routinely pass over your listing on the first page of the SERPS for one of your competitors. Marketing departments for businesses and SEO agencies alike put a lot of effort into creating high quality content for websites that is useful for their audience, but it is easy to forget about the first bit of content that users see in the SERPS; the SEO title tags and meta descriptions.
When a link to your website appears on the first page of the Google search results, the link is accompanied by the title tag of the page and meta description. These elements are the first pieces of content that users encounter from your page. If your web pages routinely rank among the top results in the SERPS but your traffic is not very high, it could be that the content of the title tags and meta descriptions is not enticing enough to make the user click through to your website. It is important for the title tags and meta descriptions of each page of your website to be written in a way that gets the user’s attention, or answers the question they have asked, to compel them to click on your link.
The following tips will help you write more effective title tags and meta descriptions to help improve the click through rate (CTR) of your pages that appear high in the SERPS.
Writing Good SEO Title Tags
What are SEO Title Tags?
The SEO title tag of a web page is what the name implies, the “title” of the page. It is the text that appears in the tab of an open web page and the text of the link in the Google search results. Therefore, it is the first piece of text that a user sees when your page shows up in the SERPS. The most effective title tags provide an answer to the related search queries, whether it is describing a service or product, or giving the answer to a common question. If your title tag provides an answer to the user’s search query that makes sense, they are more likely to click through to your website.
Title tags have always been an important part of on-page SEO and writing effective title tags with the right keywords has been shown to boost the CTR of a website.
Tips to Improve your Title Tags
Generally, title tags are no more than 66 characters long which does not give you a lot of space. You should start the title tags with the most important keywords and keep the phrases short and sweet. You should also separate your keyword phrases using pipes or vertical bars (|), and do not use any punctuation. The following tips will help you come up with more effective content for your title tags:
- Mention Price: Mentions of price in the title tags can help improve your CTR. You can do this by using phrases such as “low price” or “discount price,” including the percentage off for a discount price, or by including the price in the title if the price is competitive enough to grab attention.
- Keep it Fresh: The reason content marketing is so important is because Google always gives importance to fresh, quality content. Including the current year in your title tag or even the current month to promote a monthly sale shows Google that you are keeping the content of your title tags fresh.
- Convey Volume: Most users who are doing Google searches are ideally looking for all their answers in one place. If you communicate the volume of information included on your web page in your title tag, you will get more people to click through. An example of showing volume in the title tag would be “10 Tips to Follow After Flood Damage.”
- Convey Speed and Ease: When people search the internet for a product or service, they want the quickest, easiest experience they can get. Letting them know that their experience with your company will be quick and easy will help pique their interest. Phrases like “One Day Delivery” and “Free Shipping” help convey this message.
- Reference Brand: This works best for companies that have a strong, recognizable brand that people trust. Even if your company does not have a strong brand, you can use this strategy if you sell products of a popular brand, like if your business is a sporting goods store that sells Nike shoes or professional sports team apparel.
Common Mistakes to Avoid with Title Tags
- Do not neglect to create a title tag, make sure every page of your website has an effective title tag.
- Do not keyword stuff your title tags, the text must make sense. Google penalizes websites for keyword stuffing their title tags.
- Do not make your title tags more than 60 characters long because any text beyond 60 or so characters will get cut off in the search results and will not be crawled by the search engine.
- Make sure you use variation with your title tags from page to page.
- Do not use your business name or domain name in the title tag.
- Make sure the title tag is related to the content of the page.
Writing Good Meta Descriptions
What are meta descriptions?
Meta descriptions are the brief snippets of text underneath the links in the SERPS that give users a preview of the content contained on the web page. Google has always insisted that meta descriptions do not affect the rankings of your website, but they do affect your CTR because users read these snippets before clicking through to a website. Therefore, it is still important for the pages of your website to consist of clear and concise meta descriptions.
Length of Meta Descriptions
For years the recommended length for meta descriptions was no more than 144 characters because the search engines cut off any part of the meta description that goes beyond this length. In December 2017, Google lengthened the meta descriptions to 320 characters, but data from RankRanger presented by Search Engine Land shows that the average meta description length lately has been down to about 160 characters for desktops and 130 characters for mobile. Google has also said repeatedly that webmasters and marketers do not have to devote time to lengthening or shortening their meta descriptions to go along with these changes from Google. According to Dan Sullivan of Google, “There is no fixed length for snippets. Length varies based on what our systems deem to be most useful.”
It is true that Google’s system has become more dynamic at generating meta descriptions and may even ignore your meta description and pull the snippet content from the web page content. However, writing good meta descriptions that are about 130 characters in length so that they appear in full on mobile searches can help increase your CTR.
Tips to Improve your Meta Descriptions
Even though there is a good chance the meta descriptions for your web pages will be decided by Google based on the content of the page, it is still advantageous to write effective meta descriptions. The following tips will help you improve the meta descriptions of your website:
- Check the Descriptions of your Competitors: This is a great place to start if you aren’t sure what to include in your meta description. Looking at the meta descriptions for your competitors will help you understand which keywords and phrases are used to improve organic traffic.
- Make each Meta Description Unique: It is best to come up with an original meta description for each page of your website. Using the same meta description for multiple pages on your website may be considered spam by Google. Having a page with no meta description is better than using the same meta description because Google will crawl the web page for text to use as a meta description.
- Use Relevant Keywords: As mentioned earlier, Google does not use keywords in your meta descriptions to determine rankings. However, the meta descriptions always show the keywords in a user’s search query in bold to grab their attention. Therefore, it helps to include your main keywords in these descriptions.
- Make Text Interesting and Concise: As far as the actual content of the meta description, it is important to be clear and concise. People generally scan the meta descriptions on the SERPS so it helps for your description to get straight to the point. Your meta description should also pique their interest by explaining the value of your web page and why a user should click through to your site.
- Include Enticing Call to Action: Including a call to action in the meta descriptions is a great way to get people to click. The call to action is the most effective when you give the users who click through to your website exactly what you promised in the meta description. This will help your business establish trust with the user. Including a direct action like “call us now” or “order today” can make users more likely to take these actions. You can also use call to action phrases like “Learn how.”
- Include Price and Benefits: One of the most common questions marketers should look to answer for their audience is “What’s in it for me?” Mentioning the price and benefits of your products and services in your meta descriptions helps answer this question. When talking about price, you should use phrases like “low price” as well as phrases like “payment plan.” When discussing the benefits of your products or services, be very clear as to exactly how your product or service can improve their lives.
Effective Title Tags and Meta Descriptions Improve CTR
Because title tags and meta descriptions are relatively short, you cannot use every tip discussed here in one title or description. However, you can try different strategies for different web pages and even A-B test different meta descriptions and title tags for the same page to see which performs better. It also helps to know your audience well and the types of questions and phrases they enter into the search engines so you can write title tags and meta descriptions that directly address the most common search queries.
If your website is not getting the traffic or ROI that you envision despite the work you have put into it, you can get help from an SEO company like Proceed Innovative. Our internet marketing experts provide full SEO services to fully optimize your website, including your title tags and meta descriptions, to help get more traffic and improve the ROI of your website. You can contact Proceed Innovative by calling (800) 933-2402 to learn more about how our proven SEO strategies can help boost your rankings and CTR for a higher volume of traffic.