What Are Title Tags And Meta Descriptions? Why Meta Is Important

Meta tags are an important part of search engine optimisation (SEO) for any website that wants to rank in the search engine results pages (SERPs). These pieces of information work together to tell both the search engines and the viewers what content can be found on the webpage being linked to. They’re part technical data and part marketing content – and both sides of this equation are equally important.

The technical side of the meta tags helps Google and the other search engines with how to rank your web pages, as well as with how relevant the pages are to certain keywords. 

The marketing side is what people use to decide whether or not they should visit your website once it comes up in the SERPs. This is why you need to get both sides of the coin right if you want to see your website traffic improve.

What are meta tags?

Your meta tags are made up of two parts of information – the title tag and the meta description.

 Neither one appears on the webpage itself, rather they’re what gets shown on the SERP when a page from your website appears in a search. They live in the HTML code that’s in the header of each webpage and count towards the keyword use for that specific page.

Let’s take a closer look at the two meta tags:

  • What is a Title Tag?

The title tag is the meta title of the page. This is not the same as the heading of the page but it can often include similar content. The title tag can be seen in the browser tab, on the SERPs, as well as wherever the page is linked to on an external site. 

Think about how a link preview comes up on Facebook or Twitter – this is the title tag.

While the H1 or heading of your page can include clever word play or a more artistic flair, the title tag of your webpage needs to get a job done. This is the first place that Google and the other search engines will look to find out what information is on the page. 

It’s important to make the copy concise and accurate so that people and the search engines know what they’re getting. You should also make it compelling so that people want to click on your webpage in the SERPs.

A good title tag includes the company name, the keyword or keyword phrase for the page, and something a little bit more interesting. For our blog webpage, we use “SEO Blog – Learn SEO from a Professional SEO Agency”. From this title tag, both human readers and the search engines know that this is our blog page and that the blog focuses on SEO and how to do it.

If you want to break up the words in your title tags to help make it easy to read, you should use hyphens, colons or straight pipes. These will be seen as delimiters and help the search engines with which phrases to group together for SEO purposes.

  • What is a Meta Description?

Next up, we have the meta description. 

This is the short summary of what is on the website, written in a sentence or two. The title tag differs in that it is shorter and should be done in punchy phrases. The meta description is more like a paragraph and should read as such. You also have a bit more space to expand on the information in the title tag here in the meta description.

If you don’t have a meta description, Google and the other search engines will usually pull through the first few lines of text from the webpage. This is not ideal because this text isn’t optimised to capture the reader’s attention or make them want to click through to your website. 

You can see the difference between a meta description that has been specifically crafted for the page and one that has been pulled through from the text on the page. 

How to write good meta tags

There is a lot of skill that goes into writing meta tags, which you can learn with practice and time:

  1. Use Unique Copy

It’s important to make the copy in the tags unique from the copy that’s on the webpage itself. The search engines don’t like duplicate copy and this will count. 

Your title tags are also a great place to attract new visitors to your website, so don’t waste the opportunity by using text that isn’t optimised for the situation.

  1. Pay Attention To The Title Tag And Meta Description Length

The number of characters you have to play with for your meta tags is important. 

On title tags, you technically have no limit to how long they can be. However, if you want people to see your full title and make use of the space properly, you should stick to around 60 characters including spaces. If you go over that, it’s likely that the title tag will get cut off and people might miss an important part of your message.

The meta description length can be quite a bit longer, with a recommended cut off at 155 characters including spaces. Any longer than that and you risk being cut off on the SERP display.

  1. Place The Keywords At The Beginning

The keywords for your webpage are extremely important and should always come in as early as possible in the meta tags. You are indicating in your meta data what the keyword or keyword phrase for that page is. 

However, search engines like it if you give the keyword extra weight by placing it at the beginning of your title tag and meta description. 

A page or website without title tags and meta descriptions is like an encyclopaedia without an index. And it’s as likely to get passed over and left to gather dust.