“How do you write great title tags and meta descriptions?”

“How do you write great title tags and meta descriptions?” That is the question that clients ask me most frequently. And it’s a loaded question for sure! There are several components to authoring great titles and descriptions, but there are also a few considerations that each client will want to consider for themselves.

Hyper Dog Media SEO Boulder

Where are those title tags? Find them in the tab of your browser.

I’ll address the considerations first. You want to write title tags that are Google-bot-pleasing, but you also want to have titles and descriptions that are functional and helpful to the human visitors to your website. This can be tricky when the approach can be different when thinking of writing for bots versus humans. My best advice: somewhere right in the middle is your best bet! Write naturally and use the same voice that you are using in your page content, but include keyword targets that are specific to the page

Title tags must fall in a range of characters, but also need to fall into a size range to appear complete in Google search. This size range has to do with the number of pixels that a title tag takes up on the page. For example, if you’ve got a title tag with a couple of w’s in it, that will take up far more space than a title with several lower case l’s and i’s. Just look at this spacing difference:  www lil. The three skinnier letters take up about as much space as one of the w’s! Why does this matter? Well, in Google search results, you are allotted a specific amount of space for the title of your page. This went into effect earlier this year when Google updated its search results page. So, you’ll want your page titles to appear complete in the results, while getting you the most out of this limited function. Unfortunately, this makes it really tricky to say that there is a specific number of characters that you should use for each title tag. Around 52-58 characters is probably a pretty safe bet, but if you think you might be using a lot of wide characters, choose to use a few less characters.

Hyper Dog Media Meta Descriptions

The meta description appears in search results, it’s that black text below the (green) website address.

Meta descriptions also have a size range that you want to target for full effect in Google search results. Meta descriptions are not used in Google’s algorithm, but a good meta description raises your organic click-through-rate. Google can tell human searchers are clicking through to your site, and likely takes that into account. Google also does see short or duplicate meta descriptions as a site quality issue – so I guess it is indeed part of their overall formula. Meta descriptions of between 139 and 156 characters seem to work best. Again, strive to convey your message to human visitors with your natural writing style, but include those keyword target specific to the page. When writing meta descriptions, entice users to click on your search engine result by listing benefits and a call to action. In addition, the meta description should be different for each page of your website.

I have written a plethora of title tags and meta descriptions for a wide range of clients and what I’ve learned is that if you are organized and set up systems, even the largest websites can have all new titles and descriptions before you know it. I recommend setting up a spreadsheet and setting columns for old titles, new titles, character count, old description, new description and character count. Once you get used to using the spreadsheet, you can set the width of the columns to help guide you to the right size while you are writing.

If you are still feeling overwhelmed about getting your titles and descriptions in order, just give me a call. I’ve just about got it down to an art and I’ve also got a few tools in my tool belt that can automate some of the process that may be bogging you down. I’m here to help! Questions? Shoot me an email or a message at @jannavance on Twitter. Good luck!

Summary of Search: Who is Syndicating Who? What to know about syndicating your blog.

Google released a new Panda 4.1 update this month and unique, relevant content and overall site quality has never been more vital. Syndication actually plays a large part in what Google sees as duplicate content. Done correctly, syndication can mean new visitors, brand exposure, social shares, and links to your site (which are seen as “Votes” by Google). When implemented poorly, another site may look to Google like the authoritative source for your content – and your site is seen as a spammy “scraper” site.

Why does it matter?
Google prefers to show a piece of content only once in the top ten results. When Google finds the same content in two places on the internet, it will typically show the most authoritative site in the higher position, and other sites on page 2 or 3 (or 20). But a site with more authority doesn’t necessarily deserve credit for all content it posts.

Canonical tag
A few years ago, Google helped create the “canonical tag” to provide authors a chance to specify the original source for articles that could be syndicated, scraped, or otherwise end up all over the web. It’s a tag that can be placed on other websites, but point back to yours.

This could work well, but many larger sites either
1. cannot (will not) accept a canonical tag pointing back to your website – or
2. They insert their own canonical tag pointing to their own site! What does Google do when two canonical tags are encountered for the same content? Revert back to looking at authority, and the smaller site loses out. If using business2community.com or LinkedIn to syndicate your content, your own site/blog is likely to lose the authority test!

Hyper Dog Media Monthly Summary of Search October 2014Syndication used to be much easier. In the “old days”, the deal was that if you gave my site unique content, I gave you a link. In 2013, you could still get the link but it might be nofollow. In 2014, the deal is that you probably do not even get the canonical tag.

What to do?
Syndicating your content can provide amazing exposure for your business. Don’t walk away from syndication, but certainly use it in a way that will not harm your own rankings.

1. Ask about policies with the canonical tag
Some sites, such as business2community.com and linkedin.com do indeed want to place a canonical tag pointing to their own URL as the one true source of the content.

2. Post unique summaries on syndication sites
Everyone wants unique content, so give it to ‘em. Just, do it in summarized form. Post the long, full version of your article on your own website, with a summary or intro on the syndication websites. Both locations should have canonical tags and unique content. In this case, linkedin.com might have a canonical tag pointing to it’s own page but it will be the only place that unique content is located.

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The Walking Dead, Google Authorship Edition

Summary of Search

Google recently announced the end of Google Authorship, a feature the SEO community thought might become a major part of Google’s ranking formula. With Google Authorship, photos of writers were shown in Google’s search results – when rel=”author” and rel=”me” tags were embedded pointing to their Google plus profile.

zombie-156055_640In December 2013, Google reduced the amount of authorship photos showing in their search results. Then photos were removed altogether in June. And finally, Google completely removed Authorship from their search results last week.

Low Adoption Rates by Webmaster and Authors
Authorship was sometimes difficult to implement, and not appropriate for all sites. Many brands didn’t feel a person’s photo was the best representation in Google’s search results.

Provided Low Value for Searchers
Some studies showed an increase in click-throughs for listings with Google Authorship. But Google found users were often being distracted from the best content.

Snippets that Matter
Google’s Representative John Mueller did provide Google’s future direction: Expanding support of Schema.org: “This markup helps all search engines better understand the content and context of pages on the web, and we’ll continue to use it to show rich snippets in search results.” The rich snippets for “People” and “Organization” are certainly something to include where possible/applicable.

Implications for Google Plus
Google plus adoption is well below expectations, especially considering the tie in with popular services such as gmail and youtube. Google authorship was also tied in, and meant to improve the social rank in search results for those producing great content. With the death of Google Authorship, it looks like one more “nail in the coffin” for Google plus.

Are Authors Important?
Some interesting bits of information have been given away by Google. Amit Singhal, the head of Google Search, said that Author Rank was used for the “In-depth articles” section – which appears in 12% of Google’s search results.

Google has also long been able to read bylines: These were used before Google patented “Author Rank” in 2007, are more naturally included where applicable, and are likely to continue being used.

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Get a free link for your agency: Would you like our monthly take on the changing world of SEO delivered to your inbox? Subscribe to the Hyper Dog Media SEO Newsletter HERE! When you subscribe, each newsletter will contain a link idea for your business!