Published: 19th Dec 2017 | Words: 2,006 | Reading Time: 11 minutes
What is a Meta Title Tag?
A Meta title tag is what shows in the SERP (search engine results page) when you search for a query in Google or another search engine. It’s one of the most vital parts of SEO as its one of the first things a user sees before they click through into your website. In its simplest form it’s a HTML <title> tag with the actual Meta title text as its content.
<title>Full Stack Developer | London UK</title>
The Meta title tag is a very important part of Search Engine Optimisation, probably one of the most important. Combined with the Meta description and a web pages schema it advertises your site on a search engines results page. Your Meta title has to read like a newspaper headline in many ways, attention grabbing and engrossing, it has to make users say, that looks interesting and it matches exactly my query, let’s click on that.
How to Write a Meta Title Tag
Think of any clever advertisements you have ever seem where they consist of a short tag-line that really communicates what the advertisement is about and build your meta title in a similar way. Something catchy yet informative is always a winner, if your page contains anything unique and that would appeal to your target audience then emphasise it if it contains that particular pages keywords. Think of your Meta title as a tag-line that sums up the page underneath, it must be clear, concise, and give a short overall description of a page’s content.
Meta title structure
Think of a few simple principals:
The action – could be buy / read etc
The thing itself - product / service / information / page / Product ID etc
The location – London, USA etc
Use unique Meta titles on each page
Every Meta title should really be unique to the page underneath, as every page should match to different keywords anyway. Don’t just think about words within it that are right beside each other. Think about how words that are spread apart could match together for a user’s query.
Avoid your site name in Meta title tags
There is no real need to include your sites name in the Meta title. Many sites do, but this is a pointless exercise. Yes, it reinforces your brand, but you can reinforce your brand recognition throughout your site by clear branding. The Meta title should be reserved for the words that you want your website to show for in search results. If you do keep your Meta title tag very short your sites name will usually be automatically appended to the Meta title. For example, if your Meta title only consists of the words web design usually Google will append it to “Web Design – DDMSEO”. Take advantage of this particular aspect of Googles algorithm and let Google append your sites name in situations where the space is available.
Avoid bad practices in your Meta title tags
There are some very bad habits that you can fall into when building your Meta title. Over capitalisation is one. Write a Meta title as if you were speaking to someone as if you had a couple of seconds and a few words to explain what you are about. You wouldn’t scream at someone if you were trying to explain something to them and when you over-capitalise text that’s exactly what you are doing. These practices really do end up making your search result look poor and, in many cases, very tacky and un-professional. The exception to this rule is acronyms, for instance SEO. If acronyms are required, then by all means use them but be careful not to stuff your Meta title tag with a load of them.
HIRE GRAHIC DESIGNERS NOW
Screaming can grab attention but also be annoying
Use location information in your Meta title tags
Location information is usually best situated within a Meta title tag. IF you have a business in London then include the word London within your Meta title. Location matching is incredibly important and has gotten steadily more important over the last few years to the point where search engines really do try to push website to target a specific geographic. Including location information is also a pretty good way to get users to click on a Meta Title if you are selling products etc. on your website as most people will be looking for products or services close to their area.
Graphic Designers for Hire | Camden, London UK
Users in a specific location are much more likely to click results relevant to their location
Add specific ecommerce information Meta title tags
If you have a specific product page you can include things like the name of the product / brand and / or the product model / reference number. You can also base Meta title tags around specific categories within your site. If you have pages that act as doorways to specific product pages, then generally you will group the products on the page by a specific category.
DDMSEO Potato Peeler 123.00.1.001 | London UK
Buy Ceramic Potato Peelers on Sale | London UK
The big issue you will run into with Meta title tags on ecommerce websites is if you are generating them dynamically. You may have a lot of pages running off a single template file and it may not be possible to write out a Meta title tag for each page if you have tens of thousands. A lot of the time you may be stuck with the option of writing out one Meta title tag and inserting the page specific information in placeholder within it. The problem with this is you may end up with Meta Title tags that vary greatly in length. In this situation there is no catch all solution only to think of better ways to structure the data before it is inserted into your Meta title tag dynamically.
Adding keywords to a Meta Title Tag
Search engines are incredibly clever at keyword matching, so clever in fact that you don’t necessarily need a whole lot of keywords within your Meta tile. You may have seen in search results pages many times blocks of text which have been taken directly from a webpage in place of the Meta description and because search engines can match keywords this way it gives you the option to keep your Meta title tag very simple. The meta title is one of the most important elements you can have on a page in terms of keyword matching and the best thing to do is include relevant high volume and costly to advertise for keywords. It’s worth spending quite a bit of time on pages Meta title in order to truly optimise it. If you use a high number of words in the Meta title, consider how search engine might keyword match against the text within it. You should not include the same keywords throughout all your Meta just for the sake of it.
Optimising Meta Title Length
Because you are limited in how many characters will show in the SERP before it is truncated / cut off you should always try to keep they Meta title around or under the maximum length allowed in the SERP otherwise it actually is quite pointless. You should really be able to sum up a page into the space provided and if you can’t, work at reducing it until you can. If you think about a really catchy poster you have ever seen with a great slogan, think what would the impact be of that poster if the last few letters were cut off? Would that great tagline have the same effect on you? If you have done any sort of coding or Graphic design probably you will know about monospace fonts. These are fonts which take up the same amount of space no matter what letter they are. The letter v takes up the same amount of space as the letter w. Search results pages don’t use monospace fonts which means there is no all-encompassing rule about how long your Meta Title should be. If you use a lot of wide letter like w’s you will be in a situation where you have less letters to work with before text starts to be cut off. A lot of resources online will say to keep your Meta title tag between 50 and 60 characters. You shouldn’t do this, instead you should use some sort of Meta Optimiser to preview your Meta as you build it and make sure it is the optimal length.