By Richard Yates
What was your dream job as a child? If, like Chichester Copywriter, you wanted to be a writer, then you probably told people you dreamed of being a best-selling author or to write sparkling blog posts. But you almost certainly didn’t say: “I want to write great meta tags.”
While not a glamorous skill, writing meta tags for SEO is still an essential part of the web copywriter’s craft. In this blog, we’re going to teach you some of our golden rules for writing Google-friendly meta tags that will satisfy your readers as well as search engines. We’ll focus on two meta tags that help make or break your site’s performance: meta titles and meta descriptions.
Why are meta tags important?
Let’s start with the three main SEO benefits of meta tags:
- Reaching a wider audience – At Chichester Copywriter, we want our articles to be read by as many people as possible who are interested in the topic at hand. Search engines are the gatekeepers to most online content – once you know what works for Google, Bing etc., you’ll begin to expand your reach to new audiences. This is where page titles and meta descriptions are so important, as we’ll explain later.
- Targeting the customer – SEO techniques allow us to reach specific readers quickly and effectively. If you’re advertising a service – say, professional copywriting in West Sussex – then you can target meta titles at people who are searching for this exact service. Likewise, if you’re seeking out a certain audience for a blog – say, teenagers who listen to hip-hop – then a meta description that speaks their language will earn more hits. Either way, we’ll show you how to build stylish copy around the relevant high-ranking keywords.
- Boosting social media performance – Both meta titles and meta descriptions are important from a social media perspective too. Because when your page is shared on some social media platforms, the first things people see (along with an image thumbnail) are your meta tags. These tags may not be displayed in full, but you should still write with social media users in mind.
Who could possibly say “no” to all that? Let’s take a look at Chichester Copywriter’s tried-and-trusted approach to writing meta tags that attract the right kind of audience in greater numbers.
How do meta tags work?
Meta tags are the building blocks of good SEO copywriting. They let Google know what your web page is about so it can be categorised and searched for more easily. Even though meta tags don’t appear in the main text of the page, it’s important that you write them properly. At Chichester Copywriter, we always write meta tags with the same care as a page headline or opening paragraph.
What are meta titles?
As any web copywriter knows, the first line of text can make or break whether a reader clicks on the page. If your writing doesn’t grab them immediately, they’ll probably look for the same thing elsewhere. That’s why nailing your meta titles – the clickable headline that appears in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) – can significantly increase visits to your site.
How do you write a good meta title?
A good meta title (otherwise known as page title or title tag) should:
- Be 50-60 characters long
- Include the page keyword in the first few words
- Accurately describe the content within
It might seem obvious but we can’t overstate this last point enough! A title’s accuracy is everything: not only does it help Google place your page in front of the desired audience but it sets the expectations they have for your content.
If someone clicks on your meta title looking for a specific service or a piece of information, they’re more likely to be converted into customers or fans if their expectations are met. On the other hand, if the content doesn’t accurately reflect the SEO title, then readers will feel misled and disappointed. This will cause your bounce rate to soar and page ranking to sink.
Character length is also vital. Chichester Copywriter usually aims for 55 characters for meta titles but you can get away with up to 60. Anything longer and Google will clip off the end of your meta title, potentially leaving readers confused about what the web page is about.
It’s also good practice to put your keywords at the start of the meta title, as search engines will assume these words are more important. For example, if your keyword phrase is “Hampshire hotel deals” then let’s consider the following meta title (for a made-up website):
Hampshire hotel deals and special offers | PriceBuster.com
Is more likely to reach people searching for the same keyword phrase than…
Treat yourself to Hampshire hotel deals | PriceBuster.com
By sticking to these simple rules, Chichester Copywriter has seen a marked increase in SEO performance across a diverse range of clients. We give special care and attention to every meta title to ensure that not a single character goes to waste.
What are meta descriptions?
A meta description is a short summary of your web page that sits directly below the meta title in SERPs. It’s a key part of your “shop window” to entice readers to click through to your website. Meta descriptions also give search engines more detail about what your page contains, with important keywords included. Certain words will even appear in bold if they are part of the search term.
How do you write a good meta description?
A good meta description should:
• Be no more than 155 characters long
• Reflect the personality of your brand or website
• Summarise what your page is about
Here’s where your skill as a writer comes in. Meta descriptions give you a chance to hook readers using a dazzling turn of phrase or a short, punchy invitation. And short it must be – anything longer than 155-160 characters may be cut off by Google. While this isn’t the end of the world, it makes sense to keep within the limits so that your carefully written description is visible in its entirety.
Crucially, these one or two short sentences must also contain a keyword phrase that readers have just searched for. Although meta descriptions aren’t directly used by search engines to rank your page, they can seriously improve your click-through rate. If a reader has typed, say, “how to plant tulips” into the search bar, they’re much more likely to click on the following:
Learn how to plant tulips with our quick and easy guide to growing these beautiful flowers. Featuring tulip planting videos and expert tips for your garden.
Than something that reads more like the opening paragraph to a blog post:
Spring time is almost upon us, which means it’s time to plant your tulips! Here’s a few golden rules you should stick to, as our tulip planting guide explains.
Another tip from Chichester Copywriter is to use your creativity to reflect the brand’s personality in the meta description. If the site’s tone of voice is quirky and light-hearted, don’t be afraid to let this come through in the meta tags. Or, if the article is more formal and matter-of-fact, this tone should inform your description.
Remember: with meta tags you’re always aiming to give an accurate representation of your page – this includes projecting the brand tone of voice onto SERPs. Just as a snap video advert tries to capture a brand’s essence in five seconds, your 155-word meta description should do likewise.