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Most business owners hear about the importance of Search Engine Optimization but many have no idea where to start. Here are 2 of the most important bases you want to cover when optimizing your website:
First, what is a page title? A page title is a line of text added to every webpage’s code that signals what that page is about. And, more importantly, the page title is what Google displays when your page comes up in search results.
Where can I find it? The page title can be found in most browsers by opening the page and looking at the text at the top of the browser tab or window. You can also find the page title by viewing the page source—in most browsers, you can do this by right-clicking on the page and selecting “View Source” or “View Page Source”—and finding the line of code, usually at or near the top, that looks like this:
<title>Your page title goes here</title>
How do I optimize it? It’s important to remember that Google ranks web pages, not websites, so you want to include keywords that relate specifically to that page (not to the site as a whole). For example, if you own a pet shop that sells items for dogs, cats, and fish, you’d want the keyword “fish tanks” to appear on the “fish” page but not on the “dogs” or “cats” page.
The more specific the page content is, the more specific the page title should be. This helps target less-competitive “long-tail” keywords (longer, more specific search terms) and can draw visitors searching specifically for your product or service.
And remember, Google displays your page title in search results so don’t just stuff it full of all your targeted keywords. Make sure it makes sense to both web crawlers and human readers.
Expert Tip: Keep the page title under 70 characters as that is all Google will display in search results.
What is a Meta description? Your Meta description is a description of your web page found in the page’s code (but not on the actual page).
The Meta description is hugely important for SEO because it is the text that Google displays under your page title in search results. If your page doesn’t have one, Google will usually display the first text it encounters from that page—which likely won’t be optimized for search.
Where can I find it? Since the Meta description isn’t visible on the web page, you need to view the page’s HTML. Again, you can do this by right-clicking on the page and selecting “View Source” or “View Page Source,” then finding the line of code at or near the top that looks like this:
<meta name=”description” content=”Your Meta description goes here” />
How do I optimize it? The Meta description should be written with 2 goals in mind: (1) entice users to click and (2) feature your most important search terms. Make sure to include a call to action and a value proposition. Going back to the pet store example, here are two potential Meta descriptions for the fish tank page:
1. Pete’s Pets sells fish tanks from all the top brands at the best prices.
2. Visit Pete’s Pets for the best in freshwater & saltwater fish tanks & aquariums from Advanced Aqua, SeaClear, TopFin and more, all at the guaranteed lowest prices!
I think most people would agree the second description sounds better and here’s why: it starts with a call to action (“Visit Pete’s Pets”), it features more specific search terms (“freshwater & saltwater” and listing top brands), and it highlights the value proposition (“at the guaranteed lowest prices!”).
By highlighting search keywords and enticing users to click you’re much more likely to reach your #1 SEO goal: drawing more traffic.
Expert Tip: Google displays the first 160 characters of your Meta description so make sure to fit your entire call to action and your most important keywords within that limit.
Of course there’s much more to SEO than just page titles and Meta descriptions. Optimizing these two is a great start and likely to help your search rankings very quickly. For more comprehensive Search Engine Optimization planning and implementation contact DotcomWeavers today.
About the Author: Dan Rapoport is the Digital Marketing Strategist for DotcomWeavers.