Meta Tags for SEO: Examples & Best Practices

Meta tags for SEO - Best practices

Behind every successful website is a successful SEO strategy. Implementing Google’s SEO best practices is the key to creating an SEO strategy that would drive the desired results. A blog post that makes it to page one of Google has its fair share of challenges, but the results are irreversible.

In this blog post, we’ll look into the role of metadata in guiding search engines to access and index site information, and assign rankings for search queries. Metadata optimization is one of the search engine best practices that plays an important role in improving the content’s performance, thereby driving traffic.

Seattle New Media is an SEO agency, offering all kinds of SEO-related services to optimize your website.

What Are Meta Tags?

A meta tag is an HTML tag, responsible for providing search engines important information related to a web page, including how the page should appear in the search results and visitors.

Why Are Meta Tags Important for SEO?

Meta tags are important for SEO because they help search engines to understand what the page is about. Consider it as a first impression and point of contact for search engines.

The Most Important Meta Tags for SEO

There are a variety of meta tags that can be used, but some are more important than others. Given below are the two most important meta tags for SEO.

1. Meta title

Google crawls web pages from top to bottom. At the very top of a webpage is your title tag, which is the that Google uses to identify the information that the webpage contains. So, the primary keyword should always appear in the title tag.

Best Practices for Meta Title

  1. Title tag should be kept under 60 characters to avoid getting truncated in search results
  2. Should be unique, descriptive, and click-worthy
  3. Should match search intent
  4. Should include the target keyword
  5. Only use sentence case or title case

Some interesting examples of meta title:


screenshot of Workfront's title tag
Workfront
screenshot of Freshdesk's title tag
Freshdesk

2. Meta description

A meta description is displayed in the SERPs below the title. The meta description is a brief summary that provides the much-needed information of what the page is about to the search engine crawlers.

Google doesn’t consider meta description as a ranking signal. Even though meta description doesn’t play a major role in rankings, it can help improve the Click Through Rate (CTR) of the page.

According to a recent study by Yoast, Google automatically generated many meta descriptions:

  • Regardless of the meta descriptions written by the team at Yoast
  • Regardless of whether the meta descriptions were short or long
  • Regardless of the density of the keyword (low or high)

In about two-thirds of the cases, it was observed that Google focused on sentences from the first paragraph. However, it cannot be guaranteed that Google would follow the same pattern for every site. Try to include the sentences from the first paragraph of your article when writing the meta descriptions.

Best Practices for Meta Descriptions

1. Unique description for each page

Each page should have a unique and relevant meta description. Meta descriptions are your one chance to sell the page before people click from the SERP. Including a CTA can help improve CTR.

2. The ideal length of meta descriptions

One of the best SEO practices is to write meta descriptions between 70 and 160 characters.s. Keeping your meta description within this character range will help avoid truncation of the meta descriptions appearing in the SERPs. This, in turn, will help to avoid higher bounce rates.

Recently, Google updated the character limit, making it 300 characters (double the 150–160-character limit that was originally recommended).

However, after a while, Google went back to the standard 150-160-character limit. There is only one way to find how to best optimize your meta descriptions through continuous experimentation. Assess the results and based on those results, continue to make changes.

Always keep track of any updates that Google announces so that you know what you’re doing and your efforts to help you to stay on page 1 of the SERPs.

3. Include target keywords in the description

Always try to include the keywords that your audience is searching for in the meta description. Don’t try to shoehorn keywords into your description, instead only add them organically and where it makes sense.

Though Google maintains that keywords used in the meta description don’t affect the ranking, on researching SERPs, you can find highlighted keywords in the meta description. This doesn’t really mean anything. But it helps your readers to find the most relevant results related to their queries.

4. Research, research, and research

A lot of research goes into what you do and how you do it. Firstly, start your research with the SERPs. Identify your competitors and see what they are doing.

You can track their SERPs for a while and understand how they write their meta descriptions. Take a deep dive to find out what they are doing, and you are not.

Follow the below steps when performing SERP research:

  • Look for your targeted keyword in the SERP
  • Look at what your competitors are doing
  • Make a note of your finding in a Spreadsheet
5. Understand your users

Another important step is to understand your users and their buying journey. Analyze each stage of the user’s journey through the sales funnel. Based on your findings, you can customize your descriptions.

6. Fine tune according to brand voice

Every brand speaks a different language – one that is unique and represents its identity. A brand’s identity is how the brand is perceived by the users.

Your meta description should be fine-tuned to reflect the tone of your voice and brand’s identity. It is important to focus on tone of voice is that it would resonate with different personas based on the keywords they are using.

This research would help you understand what the keywords you should be combining with your potential clients’ user intent so that the content reaches the right audience. Write meta descriptions that do more than sell. Instead of focusing too much on sales talk, be more specific.

Time to refresh the meta descriptions for your older posts.

Refresh your meta descriptions for older content lying around. This would drive traffic to the older pages.

Some interesting examples for meta descriptions:

screenshot of GQ's meta description tag
GQ
screenshot of Tesco's meta description tag
Tesco

Closing thoughts

Search engines are striving to bring the best of results to the users. So, meta descriptions play an important role in how people find what they are looking for.

Seattle New Media is a website design and development company, offering all kinds of website design and digital marketing services to our clients across the world. For a consultation, reach out to us today.

‍Marketing Team

Publisher