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Meta Information 101

Meta information, also known as Meta data or Meta tags, is coding that can be implemented on a website page to tell the search engines and your users what your website page is about.  Most content management systems have fields for you to implement Meta information without needing to use any HTML coding.

Meta information is one of the single most important factors in making your website search engine friendly.  While there are many types to implement, two of the most important for basic search engine optimization are Meta titles and Meta descriptions.

What Meta information tells the search engines –

Meta information is one of the largest indicators to the search engines as to the subject of your website page(s).  The search engine will be clued into the page’s subject by reading the Meta information.  If the search engine views the page as a valuable resource on a focused subject, it is more likely that your page will be served up when a user performs a corresponding search query.  Read more about how search engines work.

Where Meta information shows up for the user—

Your Meta information will show up for your users in three places: at the top of the browser, inside of the search engines, and on other websites when content is shared (example: social media).

  • The top of the browser on the page tab of your website page will show your Meta title.  Hovering over the tab will allow you to see the Meta title in full.

Screenshot of Meta title

 

 

 

 

  • The search engine results page will show both your Meta title and your Meta description.  

    Screenshot of Meta title and Meta description

 

 

  • Other websites, such as Facebook, will show your Meta title and Meta description by default when you share a link to your website page.  You may be able to edit your Meta description based on preference when sharing.

    Screenshot of Facebook Meta title and description

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips on optimizing your Meta information – The “Do’s” and “Don’ts”

Two types of Meta information that you should have on every website page are:  a Meta title and a Meta description. Meta “Do’s”

Meta Title

  • Length: Keep your Meta titles to fewer than 55 characters to increase the likelihood that the entire Meta title will be shown.  The search engine will only show your Meta title to the point it fits on the screen width wise; ellipses will be added where the text is too lengthy.
  • Branding: Always be sure to add the brand name at the end of every Meta title.  Over time, if your brand appears several times for that user, it is likely that they will develop brand recognition and brand trust when associated with your product or service.

We recommend that you format your Meta titles this way: Keyword, Location | Brand Name or Primary Keyword, Secondary Keyword | Brand Name

Meta Description

A Meta description is used to increase the click-through-rate (CTR) into your website from the search engines and other websites. Think of it as your first chance to capture your audience with a compelling description as to what your business offers in relation to their query.

  • Length: Keep these fewer than 115 characters.  The same rule applies regarding length and search engines as described with Meta titles.
  • Branding: Use your brand inside of the Meta description once to help the user understand how your company has the answer to what they are looking for. 
  • Keyword Usage: Use the keyword once inside of your Meta description.  Matt Cutts, Head of Webspam at Google, says that Meta descriptions are not indexed.  However, it is evident that Google does notice (and notifies the user) when you have a corresponding keyword in your Meta description that matches a search query.  You will notice those keywords appear in bold. 

Meta “Don’ts”

Meta keywords

Avoid using Meta keywords.Over the past years, many web marketers started using Meta keywords incorrectly.Therefore, Google stated that they no longer affect rankings.In fact, because they have been deemed “spammy” we suggest staying clear of them altogether.

Duplicate Meta information

Each set of Meta information should be unique and correspond to the individual page’s keyword focus. Using the same Meta information on multiple website pages can cause the search engines to become confused as to which page contains the information they are looking for.Keeping a specific focus on each page will ensure that one page is the strongest candidate for that particular query.

Don’t be spammy

By “spammy” I mean don’t beg, inflate or create unnatural urgency.Avoid using too many exclamation marks, writing in all caps or using words with too much insistence.Keep it clean and factual.This will help users feel more comfortable with clicking into your website.This Meta information may be the first thing a new user sees about your company, so don’t scare them away.

Questions? We can help. 

If you aren’t sure how to properly assign your keywords, write content or create Meta information, read more of our resources or contact us!