When a potential customer sees your SEO optimised eCommerce web page come up in the SERPs (search engine results pages), that blue link and description may be your only opportunity to connect with them.
The title tag and meta description, also known as meta tags, used in the <head> section of a HTML document provides information to search engines and visitors about the content of a web page. They are used to generate the snippet that appears in the SERPs. Social media sites and other external websites will also use title tag as the anchor text for the link to your site, followed by the meta description.
As the principal text that describes the online document, title tags are one of the most important aspects of onsite SEO. They can be optimised for keywords, in order to appear higher in the search results, and also to improve the user experience. This maximises your organic CTR (click through rate) which can also have a positive impact on search engine rankings. Meta descriptions, for their part, provide a longer explanation of what users can expect to see on the page. Both titles and meta descriptions for any page on your website can be updated according to changes in content or to achieve better rankings.
What users find when doing a search
When you search for something in Google or any other search engine, a list of results is generated based on what you typed in the search box. If you type in “Contact Trafficsource”, one of the first results you will see is the following title and description, which leads you to our Contact Us page.
The SERP snippet can be broken down into 3 parts:
This is the first text (the blue link) that potential visitors see in the SERPs; the title element of the page. For a blog or news post, it is often the same or very similar to the article title. For a web page, it should describe the content of the page, helping explain to visitors what they might find if they click there.
Next is the URL of the website. The little dropdown arrow (ever wondered what that was for?) lets you choose if you want to see a cached version of that page.
To give the searcher an idea about the content of the webpage they are about to visit, a short description is included in the SERP snippet. Though meta descriptions are not important for keyword rankings, the search terms you entered in the search box will be highlighted in bold. This gives you an idea of the relevance of the page – if no words are in bold, it is possible that the page is not relevant to your search query.
Optimising titles and descriptions
The title element, visible in the browser tab as shown above or in the SERP snippet, is what Google reads as the title of a web page.
A well-optimised title should contain the relevant keyword as close to the beginning of the phrase as possible, be around 55 characters long (including spaces) and be inviting for users to click on.
If you look at pages like Buzzfeed and Upworthy you will see that their titles are very click-baity. That approach may not be appropriate for your brand, but the idea of creating titles that invite users to visit your site is still relevant.
The following are common features of successful titles:
- Accuracy – Google values useful information, so a title that accurately describes the content of its page will be SEO-friendly.
- Call to action – “Buy now”, “Contact us today” or simply “Click here!”
- Numbered lists – “5 ways to..”, “15 reasons why..” or “3 products that..”
- Compelling language – This will depend on your offering and target audience.
Where the title includes keywords and gives a snappy description of the page, the description is where you can add detail, and encourage your target audience to click on your page.
Although keywords in the meta description do not have direct SEO value, they can be important to the reader. You may want to draw attention to a special offer, or provide information on incentives for buying from you, such as added values or unique selling points.
Google only shows a limited number of characters, and after that your text will be cut off. To avoid having your meta description trail off in a series of dots, the current guidelines recommend aiming for no more than 155 characters.
Many successful meta descriptions include:
- A call to action – “Contact us today for more information”
- Reasons to click the page – “Special offers available now!”
- Contact information – Make it as easy as possible for your customer to get in contact
- A slogan – Use your description as an opportunity to strengthen your brand