Metatags are crucial to your website or blog if you want favorable SEO results. Often times though they can be misunderstood or interpreted incorrectly. I guess that is a good thing as it helps diversify all of our websites out there in the world.
One interesting thing that I have learned in my years as a webmaster is that the Keywords Metatag often makes very little difference in your search engine rankings and placements. Keep in mind that I have made it a habit to always include them… but as a web master I do not rely on them to get me favorable search engine rankings.
Instead I focus on 2 principle metatags to help improve my SEO efforts and get better rankings in search engines. Here they are:
- Title Metatag
- Description Metatag
These two metatags are crucial to achieve any SEO goals that you may have for your website. Let’s look at them in more depth.
Any webmaster who understands SEO will admit that the Title Metatag is one of the most critical metatags you can have on your website. I agree with them. The title metatag is one of the few (if not the only) metatag you include that your visitors actually see.
The title metatag also helps you as an author to summarize what the main point of the page is. When you start authroing a page you should already have in mind what keywords you want to be targeting. Remember that you should focus on common search phrases that you as a user would use – rather then a random string of words. Your title metatag should match the keyword search phrase you are targeting in your content. Browsers will pick up the phrases they want from your page content – if they see matching phrases in the title then it only helps strengthen your position.
Sample Title Metatag
Title Metatag Character Limit
Most web browsers only show the first 65 characters of a title metatag. Although sometimes i go over in length – I generally try to ensure that my most important phrase and search terms are contained within this 65 character length.
Title Metatag Reuse
It can sometimes be tempting to insert a common text string (such as a company name) into the front of every page on your site. Be extremly cautious about having two pages in your website with the exact same title tag. Search engines look on this and frown. Each title tag should be unique and focus on the purpose of that page.
If your website requires inserting the name of the company into the title metatag, I advise doing it at the end of the title (except for your designated landing or home page). The reason for this is that if you put your company name in the front of every page, then all of your pages will be competing against each other for searches against your company name.
Title Metatags and Landing Pages
Each major focus of your site should have a separate landing page and associated title page. Lets assume you have a news site with 5 categories. Although your home page lists out the top articles from each category for quick reference it is important to have a landing page dedicated to each major category. This landing page should have a unique title metatag that describes the article category.
Although your visitors who land on your home page might not necessarily interact with this unique category landing page – it helps to describe the news category to search engines. When they see the title tag describing the page they will be able to direct users who are looking specifically for that category of content.
The description metatag is the other metatag that I feel is critical for good SEO results. Although your users do not necessarily see the contents of this description tag, it is used in a very prominent place. This tag is often used on the search engine results page that users scroll through to decide which link to click on.
Sample Description Metatag
Description Metatag Character Limit
Like the Title Metatag, most web browsers have a rough character limit for the description metatag. This limit is 140 characters. If you want to go longer then feel free to do so – but always ensure that your most critical phrases and concepts are within the first 140 characters.
Description Metatag in Search Results
Often search providers will grab a snippet from the content of your page to display on their search results page. When they do this the sample paragraph can often be read out of place and misunderstood. Users might not click on your link as the provided sample makes no sense to them. When you provide a description you get a chance to tailor that paragraph of text to hopefully entice the user to click on your link.