When you carry out a search on one of the popular internet search engines you will find that the results that appear contain not only the address of the websites in question but also incorporate snippets of information about the website page that the address refers to. These snippets of information are contained in the title and meta description of the page. Although this coded content cannot be seen by site visitors, it is always accessed by the search engines when they respond to a search query. That is why, if you want your site to rank highly with the search engines, it is essential to perfect the titles and meta descriptions on all of your website’s pages
In this article, we will demonstrate where the title and meta description appear in the search engine results and provide some guidelines as to how best to optimise their content.
The easiest way to identify the location of the title and the meta description in the search results is by reference to the search result featured in the image below.
In the search result above, the address of the website page (also known as the url) that the search engine is inviting the internet user to visit is the site’s home page, www.makeusawebsite.com. Immediately above that are the words that represent the title of that page of the site.
This is the first descriptive content that anyone reading the search result will see. For that reason it is important that the title accurately, yet concisely, describes the content of the web page that it represents. Nothing can be more irritating than to follow a search result to a website only to find that the site’s content does not accurately reflect what its title suggests. Even worse are lengthy, verbose titles that may actually put potential visitors off the idea of visiting the site at all. Finally, titles that are stuffed with your site’s keywords can look especially unappealing to prospective traffic. Titles such as these are far less likely to attract the clicks that will take the visitor to your site.
It is also important to ensure that every page has its own title and that it is specific to that one page. Duplication of page titles should be avoided.
What is equally important to bear in mind is that the search engines analyse all these factors when assessing the value of your site in terms of the extent to which their users are likely to enjoy the experience of visiting it. If the formulation of your website’s page titles breaks one or more of these rules of thumb it is possible that it will be exposed to less search engine-sourced traffic.
Returning to our search result example above, the meta description of a web page is the fuller, more detailed narrative that is set out below the page address. This wording assists the search engines and, if the page appears in a search result, the users of the search engine, to understand more fully the nature of the site’s page content. Quality meta descriptions can help your site to appear attractive to a searcher and should contain key information (and key words) about the pages that they describe. Again, repetition should be avoided and it is essential to ensure that every page has its own specific meta description. You should never underestimate the importance of meta descriptions. Although they do not appear on the web page that they describe, they do appear to the search engines and to those who employ them when they surf the internet. A good and accurate meta description is more likely to tempt a search user to click on your site than an inadequate or, even worse, non-existent one!
Getting your metal descriptions right is therefore another essential component of any campaign to raise your site’s online profile and traffic.
Whilst your site’s page titles and meta descriptions are coded and hidden from view, they are nevertheless an integral feature in the measurement of the overall quality of your website.
To impress both the search engines and their users, you need to spend time on getting them right!