Post by Hayley Wolfcale, Senior Specialist
The heavyweight of META tags,
It’s true that there are exceptions to this rule. According to Screaming Frog, length has less to do with characters and more to do with how many will fit in the available pixel display on Google’s results page. But, characters are much easier to count than pixels when you’re writing copy. Although it is possible your
One of the hallmarks of old-school SEO was keyword stuffing. You can still find lots of
Leopard Print Slippers: Slippers in Leopard Print, Leopard Slippers, Leopard House Shoes | Slippers for All
Google doesn’t like this and let’s be honest, neither do you. If you were looking at search results would you click the above, which would be truncated, or something definitive? Like:
Leopard Print Slippers | Slippers for All
Of course, this makes choosing keywords all the more important. What’s the most accurate term for your page’s content? Does it already appear on the page more than once? Is your business using a proprietary term that searchers don’t use?
Let’s say your company sells slippers in addition to other clothing items and accessories, but in order to “differentiate” the brand from competitors, someone decides to call all of your slippers “moccasins” or “slippies” a la Tom Haverford on Parks and Recreation. You may laugh, but I’ve personally seen such nonsensical brand terms. People searching for slippers are probably looking for indoor-only, lounge footwear, while “moccasins” can obviously be applied to both indoor and outdoor shoe styles. Your page will miss out on ranking for all the slipper-related searches and probably won’t rank well for moccasins given that it isn’t an accurate term for the product.
And made-up words, like “slippies?” No one will search for those until your brand is so successful that everyone already knows that you call them that. Until that happens, your site could be missing out on a lot of sales.
Convincing decision makers to change their terminology can be tough. Show them the search volume of the keywords they could be using versus what’s currently in the
I think of the
So long as they include the primary keyword, preferably as close to the beginning as possible, your
META descriptions are your chance to entice a searcher to click through to your site from the search engine results page. I like to use the following format:
Use a call to action word first, followed closely by the primary keyword. Mention the brand name and the secondary keyword, or if there isn’t one, the primary again.
This example happens to also be exactly 165 characters, which is generally the maximum character length I recommend. In fact, 150 or 155 might be a safer bet. Like
Calls-to-action can vary widely, but inviting the searcher to take action immediately is the ideal. Here are some other examples:
Improve, Optimize, Find, Explore, Reduce, Eliminate, Read, Develop, Enhance, Increase, Update, Invest…
Starting with a call-to-action and including the brand name at least once are ways to ensure that your META descriptions cover all the grounds they can. You’ve invited the searcher to take an action that’s precluded by clicking through to your site. You’ve included their search query (or something very similar) in your META and you reminded them who you are, in case it wasn’t clear in your
Here’s what our slipper example might look like:
Explore our selection of slippers at Slippers for All. Browse a wide variety of house shoes and different styles of slippers for men, women and kids.
If a given page of your site is optimized for mobile users or if you have a separate mobile site, your
Why META Tags Matter
META tags are one of your best avenues to:
Make sure that your META tags follow Google’s new character length guidelines so that searchers can read them in full. Include strong and relevant keywords so that search engines will serve your page for certain queries, to entice searchers and to ensure that they engage with your content once they’ve clicked through to your site. META tags that help searchers reach the content they desire are what will help your pages rank, especially when both long and short-form content are optimized across your site to offer value to visitors.
META tags are similar to paid ads and even traditional print ads: they’re a brief but important opportunity to introduce consumers to your brand and invite them to interact with your business in some way (get a quote, make a purchase, etc.). Neglecting this copy means your pages are less likely to show up in search engine results and searchers are less likely to click through to them when they do. You wouldn’t pay for ad space and then put slap-dash (or blank!) copy into it. Don’t put time and money into your site and then ignore these important elements.
To Summarize the SEO Copywriting Series:
SEO copywriting isn’t terribly different from other types of copywriting. You want to provide the most relevant and useful information in an engaging way. To do this, you need the Google AdWords Keyword Planner and skilled copywriters who understand your brand guidelines and voice. All of the above points should help you craft an approach to your site’s copy that will help you achieve better rankings, improve user experience and develop your brand’s reputation as an industry thought leader.