Want to know the fastest, easiest way to improve your search engine rankings?
In this article, we’ll tell you the most common mistake most website owners make, and how to fix them.
We at Bonbon marketing have been in the business for over 10 years. In that time we’ve worked with multiple clients in various business sectors. The first thing we start with is a website audit. What we most often find is that our clients are making this common mistake which is easily solved and when fixed can greatly improve your rankings.
Duplicate or Missing Meta Tags
If you know anything about digital marketing, you may be surprised that this is the most common mistake made. Meta title/descriptions, commonly referred to as meta tags, are the first thing you should consider when creating pages for your website.
Before we go into why meta titles/descriptions play such an important role in attracting more visitors, let’s have an overview of what they are.
What are Meta Titles/Description and What Purpose do they Serve?
The most common use for meta titles/descriptions is in Google search results. When people search on Google, they get a list of results. Each result is built from the meta title and meta description of the pages that correspond to your search query.
Google will display the meta title and description of your page. If you don’t have them, Google will pick parts of the content and use that as your meta tag. Most of the time, this is a bad idea. You don’t want someone deciding how your website will be presented to new visitors. You can control what is shown by creating a strong meta title and description
Important facts about Meta Tags:
- An experiment by our friends SEMrush concluded that properly optimized Meta Tags can increase the click to your website by up to 36%.
- A test conducted by Siege Media saw 20% more visitors coming in from Google Search after improving on the Meta Title.
- Search Engine Journal also links increases in traffic and conversions to a properly optimized Meta Tags.
Another benefit not commonly mentioned is that meta titles and descriptions show up when you share your page on social media websites.
How to Write a Good Meta Title
The goal is to write a meta title that describes exactly what is on the page, and a meta description that will encourage people to click on the link to learn more. See the example below.
The highlighted text in the image above is the meta title of the page, and the text directly below it is the meta description. This means that good meta tags will not only improve the number of visitors that come from Google search but also the visitors you get from sharing your pages on social media websites.
Why are Meta Titles so Important?
Meta tags tell Google and other search engines what your page is about. If Google can’t easily figure this out, it won’t know when to show your page to searchers looking for your business, products or services.
Every page on your website should have a unique meta title that clearly states what is on this particular page. The biggest mistake we see is people naming all the pages in a category with the same title. For example, they may offer 5 different products but instead of explaining what the specific product is in the meta title, they just write a generic title like: Dog Grooming Products instead of Best Brush for Labs and Dogs Who Shed .
You can see how Google would rank the specific page title much higher than the generic page title for people who were searching for dog brushes.
Why Meta Descriptions are Important
To fully understand the importance of meta descriptions, we will give an example with bookstores. Below you will see two images of physical bookstores. Look at them and ask yourself which one you would most likely want to go to?
You most likely chose the bookstore on the right because it gives you more information about what you will find inside. The bookstore on the right is telling us about what we’ll find inside without requiring us to waste time to go inside and browse it. It’s easier to make a decision when we are informed properly.
A website with strong meta titles and descriptions will give the user more information about what they’ll find on the website. When a user has more information, he is more confident that when he clicks and goes to your website, he will find what he needs. This will save them time when searching online.
To help you easily remember what makes a good meta tag, here is a simple checklist:
6 Tips For Writing Great Meta Titles & Meta Descriptions
- Make sure your meta tags are not too long or too short.
In theory, there are no limitations to how long your Titles and Descriptions can be but Google will only show a certain part of them.
According to official Google guidelines, your Meta Titles should be no longer than 60 characters. However, that is not always the case. Our tests show that Google cuts off titles that are wider than 580 pixels.
Here is an example. The meta title “Digital Marketing Service – Facebook Ads – Bonbon Marketing, Portland” is 70 characters long. At the same time, it’s only 560 pixels in width so Google displays the whole Title. The same goes for meta descriptions.
Meta descriptions should be around 155 – 160 characters long. Again our tests show that if we want the entire description to show it should be no longer than 920 pixels wide.
Calculating the exact length of your meta tags in pixels can be quite tricky. You have to know the pixel size of every character then calculate it while keeping in mind if you are using Capital or non-capital letters, spaces, etc. We have created a super easy to use free Cheat Sheet that you can download right now. It will show you if your meta title/descriptions are the right widths.Download your free Meta Tags Calculator right now
- Make sure your meta tags match the users’ expectations.
This is the most vital step. Your meta tags and descriptions may be written perfectly, but if they don’t match the expectation of the users, they are useless. Here is an easy way to find if there is a mismatch between the users’ expectations and your meta tags. Look at the content on the webpage and then look at the corresponding meta title and description. Now ask yourself the following question. Do they give an overview of everything the user finds on the page? If there is information that is present on your webpage but not mentioned in your meta tags add it.
- Add a call to action to your meta description.
Meta descriptions are like organic ad copy for your website. Most ads feature a CTA (Call to Action) in one form or another. Your call to action should match the goal of the page. For example, if it’s a product page for a camera site, it should say something like, find bargains on top brands like Nikon, Pentax, and Olympus. If it is a blog article such as this one, your CTA could call ask them to “check out the latest info on how to write a great meta description.”
- Put keywords in your meta tags.
Your meta tags should feature the main keyword and one additional keyword your page is targeting. It is best practice to put your keywords both in the meta title and the meta description. In the meta title place your keyword at the start since most users read only the first few words. If your meta description features a keyword that corresponds to whatever has been typed in the search then Google will highlight it. Here is an example.
IMPORTANT! Keep in mind that your keywords should fit in your meta tags naturally. If you overdo them Google might punish you for “keyword stuffing.”
- Add your brand if it’s immediately recognizable to your clients.
If your company has been in business for a long time and has had a lot of clients, then it may prove beneficial to include your brand in your meta tags. It’s best to add your brand at the end of the tags.
- Don’t use quotation marks (“”) in your Meta Tags.
Google will automatically cut off your meta tags when it finds quotation marks. It’s best to avoid any characters that aren’t alphanumeric (a-z, A-Z, 0-9) but if absolutely have to use them make sure to format them as an HTML entity.
Meta Titles and Meta Tags FAQ
Q: Do I need a unique Meta title and description for every page?
A: Yes. Every page on your website should serve a unique purpose that purpose should be described in your Meta Tags.
Q: My Meta Tags are shorter than the specified character length why is Google cutting them off?
A: The exact character length is a pretty good estimate of how long your Meta Tags should be. An exact metric for Meta Tag length is pixel width. You can use our Meta Tag Format Cheat Sheet to test it. Also, make sure you are not using any quotation marks in your Meta Tags.
Q: I have a Meta Description why is Google displaying a different one?
A: Sometimes Google will decide that taking part of your content is better than using your Meta Description. This could mean your Meta Description is not properly describing the content on the page. Try rewriting it and see check Step 2 from our checklist to make sure you are writing for the searches people would use to find your page.
Q: Will my pages rank better if I put keywords in my Meta Tags?
A: Google has officially stated that keywords in the Meta Title and Descriptions are not a ranking factor so they won’t directly improve your rankings. Despite that, it’s still a good idea to include one or two of your keywords.
Q: Can I use different Meta Title and Descriptions for Social Media?
A: Yes. Every big social media has its own set of Meta Tags. We’ll have a separate guide on this subject coming soon, so make sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin so you don’t miss it!
Q: What is the difference between a meta tag and a meta title?
A: The meta title is the blue headline you are seeing. It’s shorter and bigger. The green text is the URL of the web page. Right below that you can see the meta description its longer than the meta title but includes smaller text.
Q: Is the purpose of a meta description to make people click on my page? What is the best way to do that?
A: Yes, that is the exact purpose of the meta description. To make people click on your page think about what is the main benefit of the information on your page. Describe in your meta title and add a call to action.
Q: What specifically happens if I use the same meta tag or meta title on multiple pages on my website?
A: Every page on your website should have a unique purpose. Your meta tag and meta description should describe that. It’s not beneficial to use the same text to describe your contacts page as well as your service page because they don’t serve the same purpose.
Q: How long does it take to see results when I create custom meta tags for every page on my site?
A: The time needed for Google to notice a change in meta tags is different for different websites. Give Google around two weeks to fully notice the changes.
Q: What’s the best tool(s) to use for creating meta tags on a WordPress site?
A: Yoast SEO is the plugin that we use to manage meta tags and meta descriptions. There are others but we recommend this one simply because it’s super simple to use.
Q: What happens if you don’t have a meta description and/or meta tag?
A: Google will take text from the webpage and use it instead. This is not a good idea most of the time since Google algorithms can’t understand text very well.Don’t forget your free Meta Tags Calculator