Have you been told to create or add meta titles and descriptions to your web pages. Are you unsure of what good meta titles and descriptions would even look like or why you would need them. You’re in the right place!

What is a meta title and meta description?

Also called SEO titles/descriptions, they are the two areas on a page through which you can tell search engines what your pages and posts are about.

Technically speaking, they are bits of HTML in the header of the web page. Less technically speaking, they explain to search engines what the page is about and are shown in search results.

Let’s look at an example. Below is what comes up when you search for my maintenance plans in Google. The blue text (which is clickable) is the meta title. The green text is the URL of the page and the gray text (not clickable) is the meta description.

 

Simply put, the title answers the question: what is this page about? Is the content on this page a service, a package, a product, etc. You want a reader to immediately know what to expect on this page. 

The description goes into slightly more detail about what the page contains. Here is where you can get slightly more creative, painting a picture of who might need this information or what the product or service is for. If you don’t write a title or description on your web page, Google will grab the page title (which is different from a meta title) and the first bit of written copy that it can find on the page. 

 

What optimizations can you do?

There is no one right answer when it comes to writing a good meta title or description. But there are some rules of thumb or best practices you want to make sure to follow.

Word Count/Length

There are optimal lengths for both the title and description. Google will display the first 50-60 characters of the title. If yours is longer than that, it will get cut off.

Your descriptions should allow for around 158 characters on desktop and 120 characters on mobile devices. To be safe, stick closer to 120 so that on all devices, your text can be read.

Company Name

Many people include the title of their brand or business at the tail end of the meta title. This helps unify all your pages, telling Google and your readers that this is branded content. It may also help the name of your business to rank over time, since Google is seeing your name associated with the content you’re putting out.

Language

The wording should be actionable and persuasive. It should include a call to action: phrases like Learn More, Get it Now, or Sign up all invite the reader to take an action in order to get whatever it is you’re selling or giving away. This is particularly true for sales pages. For blog posts, it’s useful to explain what the argument is that you’re trying to make.

Another good rule of thumb is to make your title and the URL or slug consistent or identical. With WordPress, once you put in a page title, the slug will automatically be filled in. Your page title, meta title, and slug should be identical unless you have a good reason for doing otherwise.

Avoid Duplication

Each page on your website needs to be unique. Google doesn’t like seeing duplicate content and it’s confusing for your users. Make sure that every page and post on your site has a unique title and descriptoin.

Good Writing

Your titles and descriptions should be proof-read and free of any and all spelling or grammatical mistakes. Titles should have the first letter of each word capitalized.

 

 

Meta titles for social media

Inputting this information is not just for Google. The titles, specifically, are what comes up when you post a link to social media.

Take a look at the two examples below. One was a link posted as a comment, one was a timeline post. They both contain a title, telling you what information you’ll find when you click the link.

If you’re sharing on Twitter or LinkedIn, these titles will show as previews as well. If you are posting your page and post links on social media to drive traffic to your site, you want the titles to be as descriptive as possible. 

 

writing good meta titles and descriptions

You may be stuck on exactly what words to use for your titles and descriptions.

It’s best to start with your target or focus keyword. This is the word you want your content to focus on. Read more here about keyword strategy.

Once you have your keyword and supporting keyword phrases, figure out which one applies to this page or post best. Maybe it’s a phrase or a full question. Let’s use the example: “should i get a diamond engagement ring?” If someone types that question into Google, you want to rank.

If that’s the case, your first step is simple. Your title should be the question you want to answer. A good meta title for this page would be “Should You Get a Diamond Engagement Ring?” or maybe “Should You Choose a Diamond for your Engagement Ring?” The general idea is the same.

Research

Once you’ve landed on that general idea (or maybe you are stuck on a singular word or smaller phrase), do some research.

  1. Plop that question or term into Google and see what results are coming up high.
  2. Use Google Search console to see what questions and phrases are already bringing people to your website.
  3. Use online tools like Moz or SEMRush to do research into words and phrases that are popular.

 

let’s look at some examples of good meta titles

I believe the best way to learn how to write google meta titles and descriptions are to read examples of good ones and bad ones. Let’s take a deeper look at some Google search results and figure out what they are doing right and what they may be able to improve upon. 

I searched “should I get a diamond engagement ring”… here are some of the results Google gave me.

M

Title is cut off

M

No description written

N

contains keywords

N

title and slug are consistent

M

No description written

N

contains keywords

N

title and slug are consistent

N

Title is clear and branded

M

Title is not well-written

M

No description written

N

contains keywords

N

title and slug are consistent

N

contains keywords

N

Title is clear and branded

N

optimized description

Your titles and descriptions won’t send you to page 1

Good meta titles and descriptions are one factor out of many that help SEO rankings; it’s very possible to see a high-ranking result with a title or description that isn’t fully optimized. And it’s possible to have them perfectly optimized, and still not rank.

However, SEO is all about clarity and well-organized information. Google’s #1 goal is to provide the best possible results per search. If the titles and descriptions of your pages match the exact questions users are asking, Google will be much more likely to rank you higher over time.