Guidelines for creating effective Meta Tags

Guidelines for creating effective Meta Tags

04.02.2015
Written by: J. Zatkulak

Creating your Meta Title:

Use Unique, Page Specific Titles on Each Page: The meta title shows as the link to your page in the search engine results list. It needs to be compelling to compel viewers to click. It needs to tell the viewer and the search engine what each page is about SPECIFICALLY. Do not use repeated or boilerplate titles.

• Length 66-120 Characters: Google will crop your meta title at 66 characters but Yahoo crops it at 120 characters. Bing suggests between 25 and 160 characters in length. Try to focus your best descriptive title within 66 characters and then any secondary information between 67 and 120 characters. Make sure that you don't leave any words of phrases cut off in the middle. www.lettercount.com is a handy site where you can paste your text to get a character count.

• Use a Primary Keyword in Title: Be sure to include at least one primary keyword in your title tag on each page. The meta title is the most important meta tag so be sure to pay special attention to what you put here.

Use Title Case: Capitalize the first letter of each major word except smaller words such as "a", "is" and "for"

• Be descriptive: Avoid vague words like "Home" for your home page.

Creating your Meta Description:

Use Unique, Page Specific Descriptions on Each Page: Google sometimes uses the meta description in search results snippets (the text below the title link), especially it gives users a more accurate description than would be possible purely from the on-page content.

• The maximum length of the description snippet that is shown in google search results is 156 characters. If the the meta description is longer than 156 characters, the snippet will be truncated and ellipses will be displayed to show the viewer that the text is cut off.

Use clearly tagged and separated facts in the Description for Products: For example, on a product page label product elements like this: Title: Setting Free the Bears, Author: John Irving, Category: Books, Price: 19.99, Length: 304 pages.

• Avoid using long strings of keywords. The description should be consise but conversational since both humans and search engines will be using this data. Also, whenever possible, use a "Call to Action" to give the visitor a reason to click on the page.

• Avoid duplication of information. According to this article on the Google Webmaster Central Blog, the meta description is less likely to be used if Google’s algorithm deems it to be "low quality". For example, if it is a duplication of information that is already in the title tag, comprised of long strings of keywords, or poor formatting that makes the description hard to read.

Use Sentence Case: Capitalize the first letter of each sentence and use proper grammar.

Creating your Meta Keywords:

• Google & Bing no longer use the keyword meta tag to see what phrases or words are important. Rather they interpret the data on the page and forms its own conclusions on what your page is really about. Therefore, it is more important to develop on-page content that has a specific meaning rather than just listing a specific phrase. Create relevant on-page content and naturally build yourself as an authority in a given space.

• According to Google’s research, deriving meaning from the synonyms of keywords accounts for up to 70 percent of Google searches. That means it does not matter if you use the phrase "auto repair shop" a certain number of times throughout your page. Instead, "you could use "auto repair shop," "car repair specialists," and "vehicle repair facility" on different pages, and Google could theoretically put you in the exact same category. Therefore, it’s far more important to optimize your site for a specific meaning rather than a specific phrase, and you can likely forget about keywords altogether in an effort to post relevant content and naturally build yourself as an authority in a given space." Read More about this here: "Are Keywords Relevant to SEO in 2015?"

• Never use irrelevant keywords or practice "Keyword Stuffing" in your keyword meta tags OR on-page content. According to Google: "Keyword stuffing" refers to the practice of loading a webpage with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site's ranking in Google search results. Filling pages with keywords or numbers results in a negative user experience, and can harm your site's ranking.

• Some other search engines still use the keyword meta tags, so you may still want to put some attention here. List keywords in order of importance and relevance.

• List keywords in order of importance and relevance.

• Separate each keyword or keyword phrase with a comma.

• Limit to 10-20 keywords.

• Include different variations of the spelling and misspellings in case searchers misspell words. Also be sure to include terms that are industry jargon AND laymen's terms.