SEO, Title Tags, Meta Tags, Descriptions and Key Words…Huh?
Author: Cathy Derechailo, SEO Copy Writer
I admit it. After 40 years of writing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) copy writing presented a challenge. This SEO thing was a different way to approach creating titles in something called a Title Tag and the more familiar meta tags; descriptions and key words.
Putting titles together so search engines will bring visitors to your web pages is where the challenge comes in. If you don’t have an issue creating titles and meta tag for your web pages read no further, but if you do, this article might be for you.
In this first discussion on the SEO copy writing process, I thought sticking to the first component, titles, might be a good start. Titles, and the way we used to write them for an article, press release or general piece are written one way, but titles as an html title tag on a web page or blog are different.
How many “titles” are there?
There are two titles on each web page in your website the code title and the content title.
The code title appears in the code near the Meta information (descriptions and key words) in the code and is called the “title tag”.
The other title appears in the content area of the page and guides the user but is also useful for SEO. These titles can be more effective for SEO when they are identified in the code with a <h1> tag. Many content management systems have an option in the editing tool to make these settings or your SEO specialist will address these settings as part of the SEO campaign. (more about these content <h1> title tags in the future)
Why are Title Tags Important
Meta tag information is considered optional, but title tags are required.
Official definition of Title Tag from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C): The title tag (<title>) is required in all HTML documents, it defines the title of the document. The <title> element does 3 things:
– defines a title in the browser toolbar/tabs
– provides a title for the page when it is added to favorites
– displays a title for the page in search-engine results
Titles factor into SEO because they are one aspect of how a search engine ranks each web page and how a browser might list the title and link to a specific web page in search results – aka the SERP or Search Engine Results Page. So maximizing the effectiveness of your title tags can be critical for your business. Critical? Many are skeptical because SEO title tags were abused by black-hat SEO’ers and search engines have dramatically reduced their value in ranking. However, the titles are used by browsers and if you have good visibility but no one is clicking on you, perhaps your title is causing the problem because it is cryptic, confusing or misleading to searchers.
Examples of what NOT to do:
Don’t do nothing – Many websites keep the default home page title of “Welcome” or “Home” … definitely a waste of an opportunity to promote your company name.
Don’t assume anything – Is your site selling products or services? Do you have an online SHOP? Can searchers tell from the browser search results if you are an informational site or offering products and services? Don’t forget to add shop, buy, service and product into your titles.
Don’t abuse or confuse titles with keywords – If you throw a bunch of keywords into your title tag the search engines will most likely ignore them and perhaps even give your site/page a lower visibility rank. (This was another bad black-hat SEO technique that you must avoid.)
Don’t duplicate – Each title tag on each web page must be unique! No duplicate titles.
How Can I Be Sure my Title will Draw in my Consumers?
Succinct titles that hit the description of each web page are best. Title tags can be long but they are “optimized” if they are close to 70 characters. When browsers display web pages in the search results they will often truncate or extract a single keyword. To avoid being truncated, shorter is best. The challenge is to create a few words that have the most important information up front, literally.
Writing your title to include the most important key words at the beginning or far left is extremely important, and can be challenging. If you do include the most important key words far left you might escape being truncated. If you are truncated, all the more important to have important key words up front, as they will drive people to your site.
Including a call to action can be beneficial in your title. Using the words “buy” “call” “choose” etc. will drive people to your site. It isn’t necessary to include a call to action, but in some cases it can be beneficial.
Now for the Tricky Part
A good writer is supposed to be able to gather words together that will convey the message of the entire book, chapter or page succinctly and enticingly in a title. The title, in this case, will drive viewers to your website, so how you write it is vital.
Wickets, Tickets, or Pickets
If you are selling wickets, try to pick out the key words that explain why your wickets are unique and desirable. There are many kinds of wickets out there, but think about what a consumer might be looking for and match that up to what you have to offer. Maybe you sell wickets that are the largest wickets anyone could find. Your title might be
Buy the Biggest Wickets at Wickets4U
Big Wickets | Buy at Wickets4U
Wickets Big Selection at Wickets4U
Now that we have looked at titles, next time we will dive into the Meta portion of these Meta tags, specifically descriptions and key words. For now, practice picking key words for titles. Here is a hint, don’t worry if you can’t fit all the key words in the title. The descriptions and key word section gives you another chance to pick words that will drive the search engines right to your site… SEO isn’t as mysterious and confusing as one might lead you to believe. Need help with your SEO copy writing, contact Netcetra?