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How do you write Title Tags and Meta Descriptions?

April 22,2016

As marketing people, we tend to want to avoid dealing with anything relating to the code of our websites.  We want to focus on content and creative ways to reach our audience.  Code is a just a necessary evil to make our platforms function.

However, there is a place in the world where technical SEO and content strategy meet.  The Title Tags and Meta Descriptions for a web page are both visible to viewers on searches, but also designed as a descriptive indicator for search engine robots.

The Title Tag is often what Google displays as the header of your web page on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page), while the Meta Description is what Google uses to provide a quick description of the page.  There are certain scenarios where different wording will show up as the heading and descriptive text, but in general, these bits of code are what are displayed.

In addition to the results page, the Title Tag and Meta Description are stronger indexing clues to search engines about what content is listed there.  Google only uses/displays the first 55 characters in a Title Tag, meaning for a single page, you need to be very selective about what words you use to describe the page.  It needs to be friendly to both people (results page), and the robots (for indexing).  For Meta Description, the same rules apply, but with 160 characters.

These are highly visible and valuable places on your webpage for both SEO, but also for potential visitors to click-through.  So it’s very important you take the time to be intentional with writing good descriptions…

What makes a good Title Tag?

Writing a good Title Tag is really a lot easier than people make it out to be.  It’s a title.  Anytime you create something of value, you probably title it.  Even a word document, when you save it, you’ll title the file name in a way that will make sense for future reference.  So in reality, you are just trying to create the most applicable title for your page.

The additional consideration beyond, “what title would make sense?”, is, “what keywords or key phrases can I include?”.  Oftentimes though, if the content of the webpage is well written and relevant for the keywords you are targeting, this will come naturally as part of the title.

For instance, the title of this page is “How to write good Title Tags and Meta Descriptions”.  It’s a great keyword and phrase rich word for SEO, but it’s also exactly what this page is about.  I could have made it shorter to “Good Title Tags and Meta Descriptions”, but adding the “how to” makes it more informative, but also better for search engine users turning to Google for help on the topic.

When writing the Title Tag for your web pages, apply the same logic.  Look over the content, and get a good grasp about what the page tells the visitor.  Think of a few quick titles, and if there is an alternative that best uses keywords or phrases that a visitor may search, use that title.

What makes a good Meta Description?

While the Title Tag was a pretty straightforward, the Meta Description takes a bit more thought.  My general recommendation is to treat the Meta Description as an informative call-to-action. You want to tell the visitor what’s on the page, but also, encourage them to visit the page.

For this page, the Meta Description I used was “A quick how-to on writing a good Title Tag and Meta Description for your webpage.” Being that you are on this web page now, learning about the topic, would that description accurately fit what I’m teaching? Would it make you click the article to read it?  It’s got some good keywords like ‘how-to’, ‘title tags’ and ‘meta descriptions’. It also makes sense for the reader, as to what the web page content is, and why they would want to read it.

For your specific web page, use the Meta Description to tell the reader what’s on the web page, and why they should read it.  For SEO, you want to use words and phrases that you are optimizing for, authentically of course.  Keep it simple and effective.

Sales Director

James is our Sales Director on the Powderkeg team. He has over 15 years of experience in website management and administration. He has created multiple hobby websites, some of which he monetized through SEO and content building. He wrote the book, The Inbound Advantage, which provides fundamentals of a digital sales strategy.