SEO has come a long way and has matured well beyond the days of simply stuffing keywords onto a page and enjoying a meteoric rise towards the top of the search engine rankings. While strategies have become much more complex, there are a few basic things that companies still aren’t doing that are impacting the business in a very negative way.
Many of these overlooked items involve metadata tags, a basic but often missed component of fundamental search engine optimization. Let’s take a look at the 3 SEO tasks involving meta data that can provide a meaningful short-term impact, and should be on the “Must Fix” list for any business owner or marketing executive.
If someone walked up to you and asked what your company did, would your response simply be “Home”? For thousands of businesses on the web, this is one of the first things that Google or other search engines see when they visit your website.
A proper meta-title should be between 55 and 60 characters in order to display well on Google, and should include the keywords that you would like to rank well for on the page. So, if the homepage of your website is blank, or still labeled as something like “Home”, it isn’t providing much value or guidance to help your website rank better on Google.
While your title tag isn’t going to be at the very top of the list of things that determines whether or not Google will rank your site well, it still provides direct and ancillary value. This comes into play when you consider that your meta-title is also the headline that shows up in the search results for your listing, and a listing’s click-thru rate is widely believed to be one of the top ranking factors. In layman’s terms, this means that the higher the percentage of people who click on your listing, the more relevant Google consider’s your result and the higher your ranking.
If you were looking for marketing or design services would you be more inclined to click on:
There is no doubt that the optimized meta title in the second example will receive more clicks, thereby sending a signal to the search engine that this listing is more relevant.
Do a quick search and see how your brand is showing up in the search results. You may need to make some modifications.
The meta-description tag is a close bedfellow of the meta-title, with one exception. Unless Google changes it’s algorithm unexpectedly, the meta description doesn’t directly factor into helping your business’s website rank better.
Having said that, it is very important not to disregard the need to have your meta description filled our on each and every page of your website. The description is going to show up in the snippet that shows up under the title in the search results, and this may be the determining factor as to whether a searcher deems your site worthy of a visit.
It’s best to think of this space as a prime opportunity to sell your business’ value proposition in 160 characters or less to potential customers on the web. While it is still somewhat important to have the keywords that you are trying to rank well for in the title tag, this isn’t a requirement for your description. However, you will find that these keywords will pop up regardless, as it is a vital component of the content of what you are trying to sell.
If you do leave your meta description blank, more often than not the search engine will simply display the first readable text that it encounters on the site, resulting in snippets that may not make sense. This leads to fewer clicks, a reduction in relevance in the eyes of the search engines, and ultimately a much lower ranking.
Let’s revisit the meta-title again. Now that you know that it shouldn’t read something generic like “Welcome to” or “Home”, let’s review a few mistakes that companies make when entering in keywords.
First, you should only have one instance of every word, so if your product or service is part of your company name, then it shouldn’t appear again in the first part of your meta title. For example, let’s say that you are a financial advisor in New York, and your company’s name is Acme Advisors. You wouldn’t want your company’s meta title to read:
Best New York Financial Advisors – Acme Advisors
As you can see, you are wasting valuable real estate by having two 8 character words that are exactly the same. Since the name of the company already has the word “Advisors”, you could use a synonym like “Planner” or a different word that my provide additional meaning like “Advice”. In doing so, you will not only present additional keywords to potentially rank for, but will also save much needed space.
Another common mistake that many people make the mistake is the process of trying to stuff to many keywords into their title. This tends to not only result in difficult to read titles that aren’t user friendly, but may also end up ranking poorly because of the blatant use of too many keywords, which signifies an attempt to try to manipulate the rankings. Search engines have become increasingly intelligent, and if they think that you are trying to artificially increase your ranking, they could impose a penalty.
As you can see, while meta-data isn’t as important as it used to be, there is still quite a bit of value to make sure that it is properly optimized for search. You will receive higher rankings, more visits, and ultimately more business by taking the time to develop a strategy & take the necessary steps format it correctly.
At KPItarget, we have years of experience in helping brands rank well in their search efforts. Contact us today for help with your meta data strategy and search engine strategy as a whole.