There is something critical in SEO that is sometimes overlooked by bloggers.
And you’ve probably seen the evidence on so many search results.
It’s something that is so valuable that if you put time into it, it’ll help you gain much more traffic to your blog.
But don’t worry. Fortunately, it’s never too late to focus on it.
What is this critical SEO task for your blog?
Your meta title and description.
What Is a Meta Title?
To put it simply, a meta title is a title that you see on search engine results and on your browser tab/window. In the days before there were all these plugins to change your meta title & description, you’d have to change it manually by going through your HTML code.
This is still possible of course, but with the tools available, it’s now super easy to change them without knowing any coding.
If your blog’s Content Management System (CMS) is WordPress then I recommend downloading the Yoast SEO plugin (they have a free version of it). They include an awesome tool at the bottom of each post (on the editing screen) that allows you to change your metas.
If you have a different CMS, there should be SEO tools/plugins to change your metas (it’s a basic function of any SEO plugin out there). It’s also something you can change on the coding side of it of course but plugins help you save so much time (and most don’t require the need to have any coding knowledge).
What Is a Meta Description?
The meta description as you may be guessing is the description that shows up on search results. The description you type for your post, may or may not show up. It really depends on what the search engine thinks is the best description to choose from.
What Makes These Items so Critical to SEO Success?
The meta title and description are what your possible future visitors will see so you need to create the best ones possible to capture their attention. If they’re both not as interesting, there’s a much less chance of them clicking on your result. And on the contrary, if they both stand out in your particular targeted SERP’s (Search Engine Result Pages) results, then more people will click on your result.
Never Ignore The Metas
The meta title first captures the searcher’s attention.
Ignoring the meta title and description can have a huge impact on your SEO efforts.
Meta titles should be kept at a maximum of 60 characters. If you go above that, it’s highly likely that your title will not show completely, and you’ll get “…” after it. If you can keep it shorter than that, there’s a higher likelihood of most, if not all, of your title appearing on Google.
Of course always check your result on Google to see if your full title shows, and if it doesn’t, go back and try to make it shorter.
So, What Happens If You Don’t Set Your Meta Title?
Well, even if your content itself is fully SEO optimized and whatnot, if you leave it up to Google to add your default page title as your meta title (it’ll probably be [blog post name] – [blog name]).
While we sometimes have some amazing blog title names, it’s always best to have your meta title be different than your blog post name.
Because it’s on this meta title that you can add a different title that will be even more eye-catching.
Think about it.
Would you rather click on
Optimized Meta Title:
“10 AMAZING Marketing Tips for Your Blog in 2020”
Default Blog Post Title:
“Marketing Tips for Your Blog”
Chances are that you’ll probably go with the first one as they mention an amount, have a word describing the tips, and provide the year so that searchers know that these are new tips.
And then there’s the meta description.
You definitely do not want to just add your meta title because the description is what’s going to finalize the searcher’s decision of choosing what to click on.
If you don’t include one, Google will automatically grab the content from your page, and the results aren’t as great sometimes.
Contrary to that, if you add one, Google may pick it for certain search results. I would add though, that you may run into the case where they still choose to just grab content instead. This tends to happen sometimes when the main keyword (or a synonym of it) on the search wasn’t on the meta description.
So How Should You Write the Meta Description?
First, you should make sure that whatever you write isn’t more than 160 characters long. If it is more, you run the risk of getting the always terrible “…” at the end of it. If you keep it under 160, you’ll be sure that your description can show as it should.
Then, make sure that you include your main target keyword on the meta description. For example, if your blog post is on “how to make your own pepperoni pizza” and your main target keyword phrase for the blog is “making your own pepperoni pizza”, you’ll want your description to include this.
If you include the keyword phrase on your meta description, it’ll likely be bolded when users search for that particular keyword.
The trick for them is to make sure that you include the main keyword on it, but make it sound conversational.
Using that word as an example, you could have your meta description read something like:
“Are you thinking about making your own pepperoni pizza? Our recipe can help bring your pizza to your table in less than fifteen minutes!”
Try to make your description not only include the target keyword but also have a convincing tone that will make searchers interested in learning more about it. In my example, saying that you can make that pizza and have it ready in less than 15 minutes, could motivate you to click on the result.
Also, try to have other related search keywords appear on your description if possible.
For instance, again with my above example, if another search phrase that your after is, “pepperoni pizza recipe”, then my description could work for you since I mentioned, “Our recipe” in the second sentence. This would make the word recipe be bold as well as “pepperoni pizza”.
Keep Testing Your Metas
And if the title and/or description doesn’t work out, don’t stress out.
Adjusting your metas is a thing that a lot of us SEOs do often.
You really have to do a lot of A/B testing to figure out which ones seem to get more clicks.
But do understand that you should test them for at least 2-3 months to be really sure that they’re not working, because it may just be that your blog is still moving up in the SERPs and it’s position might be what’s affecting traffic.
If they do work out, awesome! But do continue monitoring your search performance though. Them working out doesn’t mean that they always will, and you may have to go back to update them if you notice a drop in clicks.
Something Super Important to Note
There is something else that is of the most importance when it comes to the title and description that you choose to write.
Make sure it meets the expectations of the searcher!
For example, if you did a blog post on amazing places to visit in Santa Monica, CA that you may have not heard of and your title reflected that, but in the post itself you talk about the Santa Monica Beach, Santa Monica Pier, and Pacific Park, chances are you’ll probably disappoint a lot of readers because these are really popular places that people already know of (I actually knew about them way before I first visited the city).
Same goes for the description if you say you’re going to be sharing a recipe on pepperoni pizza on your description and the page takes you to a blog with popular fast-food pizza places to order a pepperoni pizza from, you will have a HIGH bounce rate.
So always make sure that your meta title and description accurately reflect the content of the page. By doing so, you’ll provide your new readers with a great experience and they’ll hopefully decide to subscribe to your blog or check out some of your other posts.
Focusing on your metas can help you continue to work on your blog’s SEO strategy and introduce more new readers to your blog.
Sure it may take some time to craft a meta title and description, but consider that if yours stands out amongst your competition, you’ll soon be getting more clicks on your blogs than them.
And if other blog posts in your target keywords are already optimizing their metas, you can still have a better result than them!
Because the English language has so many words so there are many ways of presenting your blog post to search engines.
Always remember that SEO is an ongoing process and you should never stop working on it for your blog.
Do you have additional tips you’d like to share on writing your meta titles & descriptions? Have you created them after reading this blog?
Full-Time Digital Marketer. Blogging since 2012. Forever loyal fan of Cruz Azul FC & Sacramento Republic FC.