What Are Page Titles and Meta Descriptions?

By | August 27, 2019


– What’s up, people? It’s Tim from Exposure Ninja here. And in this video we’re gonna look at what are page titles
and meta descriptions. (dramatic music)
(ninja stars whooshing) (ninja beeping)
(cursor clicks) Page titles and meta
descriptions sounds boring. Why is it important? Well, page titles and meta
descriptions are really important to help your site in search results. So in this video we’re
gonna look at what they are and I’m mostly gonna show you some tips for making your page titles
and meta descriptions extra juicy to help your
website’s performance in Google. So first up, what is metadata? Well, metadata is basically data that’s written into the code or behind the scenes or your website. And it’s there to give software
that’s using your website extra information. So it’s a bit like when you upload a photo from your phone onto your computer and your computer knows
where your photo was taken. How does it know? Well, it knows because there’s metadata attached to the photo. And in exactly the same way, software can tell what
your website is about because there is metadata attached to it. Now, the two most important,
arguably, pieces of metadata from a digital marketing perspective are page titles and meta descriptions. So, what is a page title? A page title, or title
tag, as they’re also known, is the tile of the page
chosen by the website owner. It’s the title that Google usually uses to show your website
in the search results. So when you’re looking
through search results, that blue bit at the top
of each search result, that is usually the page title. And you’ll also see the page
title in the browser tabs. When you’ve got loads of tabs open you’ll see the page title
in each of those tabs. Unless you’re like my sister where you’ve got 50 billion tabs open and they’re each two millimetres thick and there’s no room for anything. So what makes a good page title? Along my screen now you can see some examples of good page titles. “Buy Luxury Watches online –
24 Month Warranty, Chrononext.” Chronext. So why is this a good page title? Well, the reason this page title is good is ’cause you can see that target keyword, “Buy Luxury Watches online.” That’s the phrase that they
want this page to rank for, so they’ve included it to
the start of their page title which is gonna give it a bit
of a lift in search results. You can also see that they’ve
included 24-month warranty in their page title. This is what we call a USP,
or a clear benefits theme, and it’s a reason why someone
would wanna buy from this site rather than another site. The final element in that page
title is their brand name. It’s important that you
include your brand name in your page title, otherwise Google’s gonna
truncate your page title and stick your brand name in there anyway. Here’s another example. “100% Cotton Baby Blankets
and Swaddles You’ll Love.” Now, it could be better,
because swaddles you’ll love isn’t necessarily a target keyword, but what we do have in there
is cotton baby blankets and also cotton baby swaddles, those words are in there as well. Both of those are gonna
be great target keywords for this website. Here you can see a page title which doesn’t actually have
the business’ brand name, which is fairly unusual. But it’s still a pretty good one. “Emergency Dentist in Edinburgh.” That is exactly what that
page wants to rank for, so it’s fantastic that they’ve
got it in their page title. Now here are some bad
examples of page titles. “UK Specialist Watches.” Well, that’s just their brand name, they were gonna rank for that anyway, so they may as well have included some target keywords in there. Likewise, “baby blankets, Boots.” Baby blankets, lowercase. It doesn’t look great, does it? It doesn’t look like a page
that you’d wanna click on. Come on Boots, sort it out, mate. And then the ever-classic. “Hyde Associates, Home.” Well, unless you’re trying
to rank for word home, there’s really no reason
to include the word home in any of your page titles. They’ve fallen victim to it. We have no idea what this page
is about from the page title. Sorry, Hyde Associates,
it’s a bit of a fail. So what about meta descriptions? Well, meta descriptions
are the piece of text that you’re asking Google to show in the description section of your website when it shows up in search results. Unlike page titles, Google
doesn’t actually analyse your meta description for keywords, so they don’t directly
influence your ranking. But what they do is improve
your click-through rate from Google Search. Imagine for example that we’re looking through
a search results page and we see a really compelling,
super juicy meta description that makes us click on that page. Well, that site has now
got an extra visitor. And if that happens over
and over and over again, Google will see everybody
clicking on this website. Now, a higher click-through
rate from search results usually indicates that that website is really relevant for that term, so that page could see an
increase in ranking over time. So whilst meta descriptions don’t directly influence ranking, they can increase your click-through rate which can improve your ranking over time. So here are some examples
of meta descriptions. So remember, now we’re lacking
in the black bits here. So here are some good meta descriptions. “Buy and sell luxury preowned
watches at Crown & Calibre. “We’re the premier buyer and
seller of used luxury watches “including Rolex, Cartier, and Omega.” So it tells us exactly
what that page is about. To improve this even further, they could give us some
indication of location, and they could also use some
benefit statement, so USPs. For example, free
shipping, free collection, ensured, guaranteed, best price. Those types of things can make people more likely to click on that page rather than on any of their competitors’. Here’s another one. It’s those cotton baby blankets again. “Buy 100% cotton baby
blankets and swaddles online. “Free UK deliver over 40 pounds. “Great selection,
excellent customer service. “Find everything for a” boop boop boop. Apart from the fact that
it’s being truncated, that is an excellent page title, why? Because it tells us exactly
what the page is about and it gives us not one, not two, but three great benefit statements, reasons to click on that website rather than any of the others. Great job, Wayfair. What about some bad page titles? ‘Cause everybody loves laughing at idiots. In this example here, Watches
of Switzerland, sorry people. “We use cookies to improve your experience “and help us understand
how we can make it better. “Some of these are essential
to make this site work.” Oh! Now, I love cookies as
much as the next person, but I ain’t clicking on that website. Here’s another really
bad meta description. “Other options, cotton
plaid, cotton voile, “machine wash, patchwork,
pick stitch, ruffle, solid.” They’re all just a whole bunch of words that I don’t know how to say. Now, what’s actually happening here is these aren’t meta descriptions
that have been inputted by the website’s owner. What’s actually happening
instead is that these businesses haven’t used meta
descriptions on these pages. And when you don’t use a meta
description on your page, you risk the chance that Google will go and grab some text from your
page and use that instead. Sometimes Google gets it right, but often Google gets it wrong. Even if Google gets it right, you’re typically a better judge
of what’s gonna make someone click on your website than Google is, so it’s always a good idea to include fantastic meta descriptions on every page of your site. Now, what about the perfect length for your page titles
and meta descriptions? Well, hopefully, there isn’t one. (laughs) Well, there kind of is. Page titles tend to be
truncated around 600 pixels, which is usually between
55 and 70 characters. We normally recommend
people go for 60 characters in your page title, that way you’re gonna make sure that you’re showing all of that text without it being cut off. Meta descriptions, again, can vary widely. There was a period where Google
moved all meta descriptions to 320 characters, so we all diligently went
about on our website, lengthening out our meta descriptions, only for Google to reserve the change and then we all had to
go back and change it. Cheers, Google! On the whole, we tend to
recommend meta description length of between 120 to 155 characters. Again, that prevents it being truncated and means that you control
what’s seen by your visitors when they see your
pages in search results. Now, if you’ve got a large
site you might be thinking, “Yeah, but I’ve got 5,000 “page titles and meta
descriptions to write. “Help me Tim, which ones do I do first?” Well, the real answer is you wanna do the most important ones first. So you’ll always want to do the main static pages on your site. For example, your homepage,
your product page, or your services pages, the ones that are most likely to rank. Then, if you’re an e-commerce business with billions of pages,
you’ll usually wanna start on your product category pages first before later on doing your products pages. You can use Google Search
Console or Google Analytics to find your top search landing pages and make sure that
you’re doing those first, although there’s obviously
gonna be a bit of a bias here because the ones with terrible page titles and meta descriptions might not be ranking and might not be getting you any traffic. How do you add page titles
and meta descriptions to your site? Well, for most businesses they’re on a content management system like WordPress or Shopify or Magento. They’re usually plug-ins or extensions or even built into the
platform’s core functionality. A little area called something
like title, description, or SEO title, SEO description, where you just input your text and out pops your page
title and meta description in your page as code. Also, check out the social page titles and meta descriptions. So as well as your main page
titles and meta descriptions, you also have OG titles
and OG descriptions. Now, OG stands for Open Graph, and that is the page
title and meta description that will show up when your site is shared on Facebook,
for example, or in Slack. So it’s a good idea to make sure those OG descriptions and
titles are also optimised. And you can use the same page titles as your Open Graph titles and same meta descriptions as
your Open Graph descriptions, if you’re unsure. Why is Google not using my page titles and meta descriptions? The most common reason
is Google hates you. The second most common reason is that your page titles
and meta descriptions suck. I mean, they don’t accurately represent the content of the page. Here’s the deal, sometimes
Google is just gonna overwrite your page titles and meta descriptions and show something else in
the search results completely, either just to remind you that it’s boss or because it thinks that your page title and meta description isn’t
quite relevant for the page. Sometimes Google will split test and it’ll use machine learning to work out what sort of content it needs to show to searches
instead of what you write. This is particularly true if
you cram loads of keywords in your page titles and meta descriptions, making them really unreadable
and a bit spammy looking. Then Google will often
completely ignore them and grab some content
from the page instead. Also, Google might not
have re-crawled your page since it was last updated. So if you’ve only just changed i, don’t have a hissy fit if it hasn’t immediately been
reflected in search results. The best thing to do is force Google to re-crawl the page in Search Console, and that should speed things up. So, I hope you found this guide to page titles and meta
descriptions useful. To recap, metadata is super secret data that only NASA and aliens use and they hide it behind
the scenes of your website. It’s a really great way
for you to show Google and browsers and software
what your page is about. Metadata, particularly page titles, are quite important for SEO. In fact, they’re very important for SEO ’cause they’re one of
the main initial ways that Google understands what
a particular page is about. So it’s a very good idea
to use your target keywords in your page titles. Meta descriptions are less
used for SEO because Google doesn’t necessarily look
at your meta descriptions to understand the keywords that
your page needs to rank for. Yet, they are still important because they will influence
click-through rate from search results, which is
potentially a ranking factor. We looked at some examples of good page titles and
good meta descriptions, and bad page titles and
bad meta descriptions. (“Macarena” by Los del Rio) And we also talked about which page titles and meta descriptions to optimise first, how to add them to your site, and why evil Google might not be using your page titles and meta descriptions. I hope you found this video useful. And remember, if you enjoyed it, click the little Like button. If you wanna check out more
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One thought on “What Are Page Titles and Meta Descriptions?

  1. Exposure Ninja Post author

    We hope you liked the video! Which is the most popular page on your website? What title are you using?

    Reply

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