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About Meta Title and Description Tags

Internet marketing is some strange combination of science and sexiness. The first step to more traffic is to draw readers into your website and make them want to stay. Title tags are your site’s first impression: the words that show up in a search engine link when your company is Googled. It gives the potential reader an idea of what they can expect when they click through. Title tags are also the words that appear at the top of the browser for every page on your site. If the title tag is engaging enough, your website will have more hits; that is where the sexy science influences the process. To maximize your title tags there are several steps you can take. Simply changing your title tags from monotonous to mind-blowing will take your site to the next level.

How do Search Engines use title tags?
Search engines are becoming increasingly smarter. It used to be that simple keywords peppered throughout your website would increase traffic. Today, search engines use much more complicated algorithms to determine the top sites to display. Pretty much all search engines can actually determine what you meant by the phrase you typed even if the words you used are somewhat ambiguous. Though title tags have always been important in search engine optimisation, they were overlooked before since keywords would bring your site to the top of a search. Now that Google and other search engines are smarter about the links they share after a search, having a relevant title tag will increase your chances of attracting site visits.

Should you include your company name?
Yes is the short answer to this question, but just as search engines are getting smarter, the real answer is more complicated. It is essential that the internet user know not only what your website is about, but also who you are. Regardless of whether or not your brand is well known, including your name in the title tag will give potential customers a better understanding of who you are. If your company is a household name, the familiarity will cause users to click because they have an existing comfort level with your brand. If you are still building your reputation, your company name in the title tag will increase the recognition. In either case, it is important to be able to follow that up with excellent information and superior products or services. Using the formula of science and sexiness, create a title tag that includes your company name and a few descriptive words. This will give readers an idea of what can expect when they click through to your site.

What kind of keywords should be in title tags?
The best way to determine what key words you need in your title is to conduct your own search engine research. When you see what kind of words are used most often in searches for similar products or service you can design tags that will get you the best results. See what competing companies use for their title tags and determine how to craft tags that will work best for your organization. Not only do you want your company to come up in search engine results, you want to be near the top of page one. Imagine you are a home remodeling company in Kalamazoo and you want to be the first result when potential customers search for the phrase “bathroom renovation in Kalamazoo” or “kitchen remodel in west Michigan” or even just “I hate my bathroom.” Not only do you want to use the industry specific words that apply to your business, but you will want to use identifiers that allow readers to fully understand who you are. So your title tag might read “Jake’s Remodeling and Renovation in Kalamazoo, Michigan.” If your business is more nationwide, you can of course leave out the regional tags.

You don’t want your tags to be neither too short nor too long, so play around with what looks reasonable on the site. 8 to 10 words are about right. You may also want to include several ideas in one tag which can be done by hyphenating the phrases. For instance, our remodeling company in Michigan might offer bathroom and kitchen remodeling. Consider being more specific with the title tags. “Jake’s Remodeling in Kalamazoo – Bathroom and Kitchen Renovation.” If you want to be more creative about the types of potential customers you attract, use something like, “Jake’s Remodeling – Love Your Bathroom – Design and Renovation in Kalamazoo.”

Title tags are not an exact science so your specific phrasing and style will simply be your own preference. It would also be perfectly reasonable to try several things over time to see which drives the most traffic to your site. The internet is a living organism, so things that might work today will be different tomorrow. Allowing your site to be fluid enough to change these tags on an as-needed basis will help your overall marketing strategy.

How do you use content to create title tags?
No matter how awesome your title tags are, they do very little good if the content on your site doesn’t keep readers interested and convert them to potential customers. Before you ever consider how to create title tags, you should make sure that your website has engaging content that is updated frequently. Many companies do this by having a blog. Consider the content before creating a title tag for each page on your site. If your target is to attract readers to your site to learn about the best way to refinish or replace kitchen cabinetry, allow your writer or content creator to produce the quality article before determining what to call the page. The article should also use the blend of science and sexiness to keep people reading it. Something that is overly technical will likely cause someone to hit that back button on their browser. One you see what keywords and phrases are used throughout the article, post, or page you can determine what the most effective title tag will be. For Jake’s Remodeling, a page about kitchen cabinets might frequently use the phrase “refinishing exiting cabinets” so incorporating these words into the title tag is useful. For example: “Jake’s Remodeling – Kalamazoo MI – Cabinet Refinishing.”

The more unique your title tag, the more likely someone will be interested in clicking on your link rather than on someone else’s.

Beyond the title tag is something called the meta tag. While this isn’t as important for your overall search engine ranking, it is a helpful little tool that can increase your SEO and overall marketing strategy.

What the heck is a meta tag anyway?
Meta tags are all about your HTML code which means most people put them firmly in the “too much trouble” category. However, harnessing the power of these bits of code can give you a tactical advantage in the war to win the internet. If you don’t know what most of these things mean, you may wish to skip this step. If you have HTML talent, or pay someone to do it for you, there is no reason not to include it in your page.

If you know about HTML, you know that it usually looks like a lot of arrows, brackets, numbers, words, equal signs, and other random stuff that doesn’t seem like they will result your final product. Meta tags are part of these seemingly random strings. For example, it will likely look like this: <META NAME=”whatever page is called” CONTENT=”some description of your page here.”>

Just because you can skip it doesn’t mean that you should and there are several ways meta tags can be used for overall SEO strategy and marketing on your site. These include the description of your site in a search result, Google’s expanded sitelinks feature, and default descriptions in social media.

How do meta tags help search results?
Sometimes people search for sites based on the URL. Why we do this is kind of beyond logical thought because if you know the URL, you could simply type it in the address bar. Humans are complicated so we don’t always to that. If your URL is plugged into a search engine, meta tags will give the reader a better understanding of the results. Google, and other search engines, use the first several words of your meta description as the return information for this type of search.

More advanced internet users might be searching for things that will appear on your page by performing a Boolean search. For most internet users this search technique ended well before MySpace fell off the radar. However, some individuals still use Boolean logic for searches. This gives commands or concepts to the search engine itself with the intent to get more defined results. Go ahead and write a detailed meta description for each page if you have that capacity and see how it might affect your page hits.

What are Google Expanded Sitelinks and why do I care?
When you do a search for a site that has several popular pages within the available content, you will see these additional site links in your results. For example, if you do a search for a popular restaurant in your area, the Google result will include not only the main page but also several additional links directly below for pages within the site – such as the menu, drink specials, or events. You may have seen this searching for YouTube or even Amazon.com. You can click on these additional links directly from Google rather than going to the main page and clicking within the site. Many people find this helpful when looking for a subject within a site, such as accessing the Kindle Store directly through the search results for Amazon.

Google determines whether or not your pages are worthily of expanded site links by the quality of the meta tags you include in your HTML code. This can be a very useful tool because these types of expanded sitelinks do attract clicks to your site. Most search engine users don’t care how an expanded menu below the result on their search happens, but the expanded sitelinks give them a professional impression of your site. It may seem like you have nothing to do with the creation of these additional site links, but you do to some extent by adding meta tags.

What about social media like Facebook?
Social media is the life blood of current internet marketing strategies. If a business doesn’t use Facebook or Twitter, they will not be attracting the same customer base as their competitors. Internet users like things to be easy and streamlined. They want to access all of their friends and family’s updates, read their news, listen to their music, and find new products and brands all on Facebook. If you’re not there, you’re left out.

Not only should you have a Facebook page, but you should also consistently share information from your website on your page. This encourages people to re-share it on their own Facebook walls. Before you know it, your information has gone viral, as they say, and you have an influx of new readers and potential customers.

When you see a link from Facebook, there is often some description of the page. Sometimes it is good and sometimes it is bad. That is because Facebook takes information from meta tags to use in this space. If you don’t have meta tags, then you are missing out on a great way to convey your brand or business to the Facebooking public.

SEO experts recommend creating a two or three sentence summary of your article or blog posts and include it in your meta description. If you have the good information in your meta tags and your content is shared on social media, the description will entice new readers to click on the link to your site.