Meta Titles and Descriptions
Meta titles and descriptions are something I continue to see clients not understand and sometimes ignore completely, this is a big mistake when thinking about SEO for your business. Today we are going to look at why meta titles & descriptions are important for SEO and how you can add them to your WordPress website.
Your page title serves one main purpose, but also has a slightly more subtle quality that we’ll discuss as well. Its main purpose is what you’d imagine; it tells your readers what a particular article is about. A well-crafted title has the benefit of increasing click through rate to the different pages of your site and decreasing bounce rate (number of people leaving your website after the first page). Having a low bounce rate is a signal to search engines that your site has good quality and provides a good user experience so it’s something that shouldn’t be ignored.
The other and more subtle benefit of a good title is the anchor text to backlinks. People tend to use the title of an article as the anchor text when backlinking to a site. So if you put your keyword in the title, then you’d most likely gain from the added benefit of a more relevant backlink than a poorly articulated title without the keyword.
Since the latest Google update however it is important to vary the title and anchor texts that are used when backlinking to your website, if you are seen in Google’s eyes to be unnaturally linking content you might end up with a manual penalty on your website, never a good thing.
Meta titles are the main title that appears with you article in a search engine, this tells the search engines what your content is about and whether or not to show it if it is relevant to the term that was searched.
Choose your title based on what your reader might want to see and not based purely on keywords, doing keyword research will help you write targeted articles but it might come across as unnatural. Choose a good title that is engaging and gives great value or solves a problem that people might have, by doing this you will naturally see your organic traffic increase as a result of writing for people and not for SEO.
Meta descriptions are the brief snippet of text that appears below the title in search engines, they are very important because they can include your keywords and give more relevant information to people who are searching for your terms. If you create a unique and targeted meta descriptions for each of your website pages and blog posts you will gain a huge benefit in terms of onsite SEO. It is worth noting that if you do not write a description the search engine simply displays the first text it finds on the page, this could be completely irrelevant to the actual content the article is about and will do no favours for you SEO.
When writing your meta descriptions try to include the meta title and make sure each description is natural and unique. When writing your descriptions you should try not to exceed 156 characters, doing so will cause the snippet to be truncated at the end and cut off and you may end up not getting your keywords included that you wanted.
Adding Meta Titles & Descriptions to WordPress
At this point you might be wondering how to easily edit your meta information for you posts and pages, thankfully for WordPress there are numerous free plugins you can download that make it easy to start editing your meta information. I recommend downloading Yoast’s SEO plugin as a starting point as it provides both sitemap functionality and you can edit the meta information from within a post or page on your WordPress website.
If you make it a habit to always add meta titles and descriptions to your posts and pages you will notice a huge boost in SEO. Like with many other things in SEO, consistency is the key. Having only half of your pages optimised will not make any real noticeable difference.