SEO still begins with being friendly to the bots. This “Technical SEO” is more focused on helping bots understand a page, so that humans get a chance to engage with it. Once visitors might see a page, Google can weigh more of the engagement metrics such as organic click-through-rate, bounce rate, time on site, conversion, etc. It’s a mystery -and a controversy – as to whether the current Google algorithm uses these engagement metrics, but pretty much everyone agrees they will move in that direction.
With title tags, there are nuances for the crawlers, nuances for the humans, and the sweet spot is where those two worlds connect. If the same title tag most appealing to crawlers is the same title tag your audience will find enticing in Google’s search results, you are on the right path.
Engagement SEO is the hard part, but let’s start with the basic requirements, aka Technical SEO.
1. Title tags
- Valid tags (No single quotes or trying anything cute)
- Not too long, not too short (50-55 characters is usually best)
- No duplicates: Every page should be unique, so every title tag should be too!
- Your keyword targets should be in your title tag, because your page is about them
2. Meta Descriptions
- Valid tags (We only mention because we’ve seen some crazy code out there)
- Not too long, not too short (155 characters is the maximum)
- No duplicates: Every page should be unique, so every description tag should be too!
- Your keyword targets should be in your description, because your page is about them
Engagement SEO is user-focused, and only possible once a search engine has enough technical SEO requirements in place to give the site visibility. Engagement SEO maximizes whatever visibility the technical SEO provides and includes directives to maximize engagement in search results, landing pages, and throughout the entire buying journey of your prospect
1. Title tags
- In most cases, Google uses your title tag as the blue link for your page in their search results.
- Use Adwords to test variations of ad titles. Put the best performing (and variations) into your title tags.
- No duplicates: Let the user know how this page differs from others you might have of a similar topic. Help them get the correct page first off. Know that Google is watching over their shoulder.
- Your keyword targets should be in your title tag, because your page is the answer to the user’s query.
- When a user sees the keyword query they typed in -right there in your title tag – it’s powerful. Google may not bold the keywords in the “ten blue links”, but Bing and other engines do.
- Social media sites often use the title tag for their “blue link” when something is shared, too!
2. Meta Descriptions
- In most cases, Google uses your meta description as the black text snippet for your page in their search results.
- Use Adwords to test variations of meta descriptions, too. Maximize the research you can get from those PPC campaigns!
- Use calls to action, and entice your prospects to click. Did you know you can break most of the rules of Adwords here? (Don’t get crazy on the exclamation marks though!!)
- No duplicates: Describe and inform your user what query this description is meant to answer.
- Your keyword targets should be in your description, because your page is about them.
- Google bolds the keywords your prospect typed in, right there in their search results.
- Social media sites often use the meta description when something is shared, too!
Titles and meta descriptions must be enticing to searchers. Don’t settle for title tags and meta descriptions that your web developer created to “SEO your site”, but raise the bar. These vital tags are used for more than communicating with bots. This is a prime location to entice searchers with keywords and calls to action. That’s engagement with your user from the very start.
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