SEO Meta Musings

How to be No. 1 on Google for everything

The Blogfather puts together some handy tips on the creation of title tags and meta descriptions.

Whilst meta descriptions are not used in Google’s ranking algorithms for web searches, they impact hugely on click through rates, and for this reason are vital for SEO.

We look out across the old market place of Wokingham from our vantage point here at Gasp. With historical records of bull baiting, and a lady busker who belts out the theme tune from Titanic on loop, it is fair to say the market place has a slightly dubious reputation.

But there is one very intriguing character that occasionally drifts in, stage left. Often carrying a plastic bag of unknown provenance, we know him simply as “Meat Chops”. Engage in conversation with him at your peril, if your time is at a premium. I was once accosted en route to the recycling bin and ended up in a 10-minute conversation lamenting the passing of a Portuguese crooner I’d never heard of.

The best thing about entering discourse with Meat Chops is that he is likely to tell you that he is ‘number one on Google’. Seriously, just Google him and see. When you enquire as to what he is number one for exactly, he merely repeats he is just number one on Google. But what do we need to type in Meat Chops?! He looks more likely to be the content of the biggest viral video of all time rather than a corporate behemoth, but the notion that no matter what is typed into a search engine, the top result will be this talkative chap’s business/Facebook page is a very romantic idea. He must have found the mythical perfect SEO, what all businesses strive for. I wish it were true.

But alas, it is not, and there is no quick fix to SEO. We recently launched a new website here at Gasp and we put a serious amount of thought and hours into our meta copy in particular. By no means the only thing you need to do for optimising SEO, but definitely the building blocks, it can be broken into two distinct parts.

Make each meta title and description unique. Every single page on our website has unique copy.

Title Tags

Or title elements as they are also known, have long been considered one of the most important SEO elements after your actual content (what is content? Can of worms can be opened here). They appear in three important places; search engine results pages, in a browser’s graphical framework and tabs, whilst social media sites also use them to provide their link anchor text.

Here be our homepage title element, for example:

Gasp | Full Service Marketing Agency | Berkshire, UK

Meta Descriptions

Whilst meta descriptions are not used in Google’s ranking algorithms for web searches, they impact hugely on click through rates, and for this reason are vital for SEO. You are in essence giving a one second sales pitch to the skim reading eye. It could well end up being the only thing a person ever reads on your company (especially if it is not very good), so therefore is of massive importance for getting click-through to where all your lovely content is.

Here is our meta description, which went through a few different versions:

Gasp. The family run, award-winning, marketing and communications agency. Fearless, inventive, and hell-bent on making our clients more profitable.

Top Tip: Avoid Truncation. You don’t want to see an ellipsis in the search results for your company. Stick to character limits of 55 for title and 160 for description (a good guide, but by no means definitive). Any copy over these limits will almost certainly never get read. So be concise, just like the great Hemingway.

I’ve compiled 7 tips that are handy when creating title tags and meta descriptions:

• Avoid Truncation. You don’t want to see an ellipsis in the search results for your company. Stick to character limits of 55 for title and 160 for description (a good guide, but by no means definitive). Any copy over these limits will almost certainly never get read

• Place your well-researched keywords close to the front of the copy

• Write a compelling piece of copy. It’s got to draw them in

• Make each meta title and description unique. Every single page on our website has unique copy

• Use pipes (those vertical slashes) in your titles and avoid other forms of punctuation

• Ensure you include your brand/company name

• Be concise. ‘Trimming the fat’ is a Gasp mantra, and no where is it more important than with meta copy (as an aside, if you want some enforced practice at being concise, and the length of this bullet point would suggest I schedule some more quickly, then handle a client’s twitter account and/or write some meta copy, you will be quite the Hemingway afterwards. Or Trott)

By way of a shout out/further reading, I thoroughly recommend you follow @moz on twitter as they have some exceptionally useful and quality content on SEO and other topics that stands out amidst all the mediocre content that undermines many a website’s SEO.

You could get yourself into a knot pondering that last sentence too much.

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