Meta Tags for SEO: Examples & Best Practices

Meta tags for SEO - Best practices

Behind every successful website is a successful SEO strategy. Implementing Google’s SEO best practices is the key to creating an SEO strategy that would drive the desired results. A blog post that makes it to page one of Google has its fair share of challenges, but the results are irreversible.

In this blog post, we’ll look into the role of metadata in guiding search engines to access and index site information, and assign rankings for search queries. Metadata optimization is one of the search engine best practices that plays an important role in improving the content’s performance, thereby driving traffic.

Seattle New Media is an SEO agency in Seattle, offering all kinds of SEO-related services to optimize your website.

Meta tags

A meta tag is an HTML tag, responsible for providing search engines important information related to a web page, including how the page should appear in the search results and visitors.

Meta title tag

Google crawls web pages from top to bottom. At the very top of a webpage is your title tag, which is the that Google uses to identify the information that the webpage contains. So, the primary keyword should always appear in the title tag.

Meta description

Below the page’s title, a meta description would be displayed in the SERPs. The meta description or meta tag provides the much-needed information of what the page is about to the search engine crawlers.

Google doesn’t consider meta description as a ranking signal. The meta description doesn’t play a major role in rankings. However, meta descriptions are required to set the optimization right.

Insights from a recent study by Yoast, Google automatically generated many meta descriptions:

  • Regardless of the meta descriptions written by the team at Yoast
  • Regardless of whether the meta descriptions were short or long
  • Regardless of the density of the keyword (low or high)

In about two-thirds of the cases, it was observed that Google focused on sentences from the first paragraph. However, it cannot be guaranteed that Google would follow the same pattern for every site. Try to include the sentences from the first paragraph of your article when writing the meta descriptions.

The ideal length of meta descriptions

One of the best SEO practices is to write meta descriptions that do not exceed a limit of 160-165 characters. Keeping your meta description within this character range will help avoid truncation of the meta descriptions appearing in the SERPs. This, in turn, will help to avoid higher bounce rates.

Recently, Google updated the character limit, making it 300 characters (double the 150–165-character limit that was originally recommended).

However, after a while, Google went back to the standard 150-165-character limit. There is only one way to find how to best optimize your meta descriptions is through continuous experimentation. Assess the results and based on those results, continue to make changes.

Always keep track of any updates that Google announces so that you know what you’re doing and your efforts to help you to stay on page 1 of the SERPs.

Research, research, and research

A lot of research goes into what you do and how you do it. Firstly, start your research with the SERPs. Identify your competitors and see what they are doing.

You can track their SERPs for a while and understand how they write their meta descriptions. Take a deep dive to find out what they are doing, and you are not.

Follow the below steps when performing SERP research:

  • Look for your targeted keyword in the SERP
  • Look at what your competitors are doing
  • Make a note of your finding in a Spreadsheet

Your clients

Another important step is to understand your clients and their buying journey. Analyze each stage of the user’s journey through the sales funnel.
Based on your findings, you can customize your descriptions.

What is your brand’s voice?

Every brand speaks a different language – one that is unique and represents its identity. A brand’s identity is how the brand is perceived by the users.

Your meta description should be fine-tuned to reflect the tone of your voice and brand’s identity. It is important to focus on tone of voice is that it would resonate with different personas based on the keywords they are using.

This research would help you understand what the keywords are you should be combining with your potential clients’ user intent so that the content reaches the right audience.

Include the keywords that your audience is searching for in the meta description.

Though Google maintains that keywords used in the meta description don’t affect the ranking, on researching SERPs, you can find highlighted keywords in the meta description.
This doesn’t really mean anything. But it helps your readers to find the most relevant results related to their queries.

Write meta descriptions that do more than sell. Instead of focusing too much on sales talk, be more specific.

Time to refresh the meta descriptions for your older posts

Refresh your meta descriptions for older content lying around. This would drive traffic to the older pages.

Some interesting examples for meta descriptions:

 

Meta tags example

Meta tag example

Closing thoughts

Search engines are striving to bring the best of results to the users. So, meta descriptions play an important role in how people find what they are looking for.
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