29 Apr 2015

SEO 101 Series: Page Title Tags and Meta Descriptions [VIDEO]

This is the third of six SEO 101 series videos on the fundamental building blocks that make up well optimized websites. Each post over the next 4 weeks will cover a different topic in short, to-the-point videos that will help you ensure the health of your website and your published content. After all, you can’t be successful at content marketing or other initiatives unless you build your website on a strong SEO foundation. To check back for the weekly videos, you can find the list here or sign up for email updates.

Meta tags are an important element of onsite SEO. These pieces of code help search engines better understand what a specific page on your website is about. In this SEO tutorial video, we’ll introduce you to two types of meta tags: page title tags and meta descriptions. We’ll show you where to locate these on your website, and share a few tips on how to optimize meta tags.

Transcript of the Video

Meta tags are an important element of onsite SEO. These pieces of code help search engines better understand what a specific page on your website is about and let users know what they are clicking through to. In this SEO tutorial video, we’ll introduce you to two types of meta tags: page title tags and meta descriptions. We’ll show you where to locate these on your website, and share a few tips on how to optimize them properly.

Today we are going to talk about on-page SEO elements like: page title tags and meta descriptions. We’ll discuss what they are, how to find them on a webpage and best practice recommendations.

Page title tags and meta descriptions are two popular types of meta tags. Meta tags are pieces of code seen mostly by search engines, and are used by the search engines to determine what a specific page on your website is about. The content of meta tags is displayed in search engine results, but not on the web page itself.

To find these tags, we’ll use the Vertical Measures website as an example. Here, you’re looking at our homepage. Let’s start with the page title tag.

Bring your mouse to the top of your browser and hover. You can see our title tag: “Content Marketing Agency. Vertical Measures.”  You can also view title tags by right clicking, and selecting view page source. This pulls up the source code behind the page. Then, use the browser’s find function and type “title.” The first result takes us here, where you can see our title tag again.

Effective title tags should include unique, relevant keywords. We recommend limiting your title tags to approximately 55 characters, or 512 pixels, to avoid being cut off when displayed in the search engine results. Here at Vertical Measures we use MOZ’s title preview tool to help evaluate page titles efficiently.

To find the meta description, stay in the source code, and type “description” into the find function. You can see our meta description here. It reads, “Vertical Measures is a search, social and content marketing agency,” and then goes on. This description is displayed in results on the major search engines. If you Google Vertical Measures, you can see the title tag is right here, and the meta description is just below it. Note how the phrase “Vertical Measures,” our search query is highlighted in bold.

Title tags and meta descriptions are important because they are a considerable opportunity to influence click-through rates from search engines to your website and improve user engagement on your site. While meta descriptions are not factored into search engine rankings, click-through rates are. Similar to page title tags, meta descriptions should be optimized with relevant keywords, and a strong call-to-action that will attract users. We recommend staying under 155 characters.

Meta tags are crucial to SEO. If meta descriptions aren’t present, for example, then search engines automatically display the most relevant content from existing on-page content, which may not be what you want.