A Guide To Meta Tags For SEO

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On-site Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a process of ensuring that customers enjoy using your website while optimising content for search engines to easily crawl and index each page. One of the most fundamental aspects of this on-site SEO is using meta tags to accurately describe the unique content on each page of the website.

What are Title Tags and Meta Descriptions?

Title tags and meta descriptions are what potential customers see when they search for a keyword or phrase that triggers your website to appear. Optimising meta tags can increase the likelihood of different pages of your website appearing for various search terms. Well written and compelling meta tags will attract more users to click through to your website.

Title Tag Meta Description

Title Tags

Title tags are used on the search engine results page to provide a preview of the given page and are a very important SEO factor. The title tag of a page should be an accurate description of the page’s content as this is what a search engine sees when it crawls your site. Title tags appear in 3 key places: browsers, search engine results page and external websites. Well written title tags can help your pages rank higher in Google and are also important for social sharing. The optimum title tag length is currently between 50 – 55 characters.

When writing Title Tags:

  • Title must be highly relevant to the page it refers to
  • Place important keywords and phrases close to the front of the title tag
  • Avoid duplication – make each page title unique
  • Potentially finish the title tag with branding. E.g. ‘Your Guide to Meta Tags for SEO  | Search Scientist’

Meta Description

Meta descriptions provide accurate explanations of the content of web pages and are vital in gaining user click-through from the search results page, making it a very important part of search marketing. Each meta description should incorporate keywords intelligently and provide a compelling description that a user will want to click on. It is important not to duplicate descriptions and that each meta description is unique to the content of the page. The optimum description length is currently between 145 – 155 characters.

Each meta description should be:

  • Readable (in sentences), relevant and compelling
  • Accurately describe the page
  • Incorporate keywords
  • 145 – 155 characters in length
  • Avoid duplication

Alt Tags

An alt tag is a simple piece of HTML code that describes an image that appears on a page of your website. Optimising alt tags across your website can attract additional traffic through Google Images and has a positive impact on SEO. When writing alt tags it is best to keep descriptions short and accurate, longer descriptions are often not indexed as efficiently. Include words that describe the image in the each alt text. This is an effective way of telling Google what the page is about. Do not use duplicate alt text to describe various pages across your website. Keep each alt tag accurate and relevant to the unique content that is on the page. For example alt text that reads ‘mens blue skateboard shoes’ is more effective than ‘mens shoes’

When writing alt text:

  • Keep descriptions unique simple and accurate
  • Describe the content of the image
  • Short text works better
  • Avoid duplication across pages

Header Tags

Header tags are used to differentiate the heading of a page from the rest of the content. The most important tag on a page is the H1 tag and the least important is the H6 tag. H1 and H2 tags When dealing with header tags there is a hierarchy that must be adhered to in order to keep the structure SEO friendly. For example, if your site is introduced with a heading in H1 and a sub-heading in H3, the hierarchy will be broken. It is important to keep the hierarchy and be consistent across all pages of the website.

<h1>Main Heading</h1>
<h2>Secondary Heading 1</h2>
<h3>Sub-section of the secondary heading 1</h3>

The H1 tag is the most header important tag on a page. Every page on your website should contain a H1 tag that describes the information that is to follow on that page. Include targeted keywords in header tags. The keywords must be highly relevant to the rest of the content of the page. Google want to display the best websites in their search results, and what makes a good website is usability. Heading tags give the user a clear idea of what the page is about, improving usability, reinforcing the presence of header tags as an important SEO factor.

It is worth noting that users should not be concerned if the default H1 tag on your site is over-sized or perhaps it is not in a suitable colour, both these attributes can be adjusted to suit the style of the page using CSS.

When writing Header Tags:

  • Target keywords in your headings
  • Make headings highly relevant to content on the page
  • Where possible keep H1 tags short and snappy
  • Only use one H1 per page
  • Maintain hierarchy and consistency throughout the site.

Meta tags are the among the most fundamental elements of SEO, they play an important part in helping your website ranks in search engines and in getting users to click-through to your website. We recommend taking the time to correctly complete all meta tags on your website.  Occasionally Google will make changes to how meta tags show in the search results, as noted in a previous article here. It’s worth having a check every so often to see how your site’s pages show in the search results. To do so, simply search within Google for site:www.yourwebsiteaddress.com.

For further advice on Search Engine Optimisation for your website, comment below or email info@searchscientist.co.uk. We’ll be happy to help.

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