December 27, 2021
By: Sander Kah
9 min. reading time
In this article, we explain how to create the perfect meta titles and descriptions for better SEO rankings. A handy step-by-step explanation where we take you through the usefulness and necessity of good meta titles and descriptions (also known as SEO titles and descriptions) for better ranking in the search engines.
In the image above, you can see the meta title and description of Afosto. The meta title is the title of the page that is displayed in the search results. The meta description is the (short) description of that same page. Search engines use this title and description, among other things, to determine for which keywords they should display your page. You can see it as a kind of advertisement for your page.
A good meta title is essential for better ranking. Below is a list of some guidelines for better meta titles:
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The primary keyword you focus on is the subject that is most important for the page to be found. Because the search engines are getting smarter we use the subject, because if you write a good page you will not only gather traffic for that one keyword but also for e.g. synonyms of the same word.
In addition to the primary keyword for the page, it usually makes sense to focus on one or two long-tail keywords.
Why? Because it can take a long time to rank for your main keyword if it is a competitive one. What gets results much sooner are long-tail keywords.
The great thing is that these longer variants can often be included well in your title tag giving your meta title a natural look.
Primary keyword: "seo tips" (3,800 searches/month); Long-tail variation #1: "seo tips for beginners" (100 searches/month); Long-tail variation #2: "small business seo tips" (70 searches/month)
*these estimate searches are based on results from a Semrush keyword research with target country The Netherlands
The next step is to create a basic title.
The moment people type something into Google they are looking for something.
People tend to look for certain "USPs" (unique selling points) in search results - The exact USPs they are looking for will depend on the nature of the search.
If you have created your page/post around a specific search query/topic, it is likely that there is already overlap between the "USPs" that your page content contains and the USPs that people want to see.
All you have to do then is add these usp's to your meta title.
Here are five examples of types of "USPs" that people value (and how you can make them clear in your meta title):
Depth / Thoroughness
People like thorough, in-depth sources of information. That's probably why there is a clear correlation between content length and ranking in search engine results. If your source is more thorough than other search results, don't hide that. Entice the click by adding words/phrases like these to your title tag: "ultimate", "complete", "definitive", "study", "step-by-step", etc.
Lists / Quantities
People love lists. We recommend that you always put a number in your title tag for posts that look like a list. For example: The top 5 tips, the 10 best ... and the number 1 ...
Speed / Conciseness
No one wants to read endless articles and spend a lot of time learning or accomplishing something. If your content is concise and to the point, this is also a USP. "Sell" the content with words/phrases like these in your title tag: "quick," "easy," "...in X minutes," "today," "now," etc.
For product pages, try things like, "free shipping" or "next day delivery" (if you can make this true, of course).
Some searches (e.g., "SEO tips 2018") call for fresh results. No one will click on a result from 2012 for such searches. To communicate timeliness, add words and phrases like these to your title tag: "...in 20XX", "last updated Jan. 18", etc.
People are more likely to click on a search result from a brand they know and trust. So, if you're somewhat well-known in your industry, add your brand name to your title tag.
The main purpose of a page's meta description is to get visitors to SERPs (search engine pages) and social media to click on the link to your page. In essence, it attracts users and generates traffic to your page!
In this sense, you can think of the meta description as a "mini-advertisement" for your page, providing a preview of the page's content. Because there are so many results from a Google search, the meta description is your small (but valuable!) real estate space to succinctly explain what the page offers - in other words, if you do it right, it makes your ad stand out.
The meta description, if well written, helps to improve the click-through rate (CTR) to your website from the search engine pages (SERP). Google says that the meta description does not lead to direct page rank benefits, but there is an indirect benefit, a well-written meta description does lead to a higher CTR and Google does use this metric to determine the position of a page.
Users will click on content that appeals to them and answers their question, so make sure you write your meta description with the user in mind. Searchers will appreciate good content, you just need to entice them to go there first. You do that with a good, clear and enticing meta description.
The following outlines how to write a good meta description and then increase your organic search CTR.
Now that you know what a meta description is and why it's important to your site and content, let's talk about how to write one.
A good meta description prioritizes the user experience and has the following three characteristics:
To write a good meta description and ensure a higher CTR, stick to these things: Put the most important information first
Each meta description should quickly communicate the topic - and benefit - of the page. If the web page is for a specific product, brand or topic put those terms and keywords at the beginning.
Make your meta description conversational
Write for people, not search engines or algorithms. Natural language communicates better.
Place all content in terms of the benefits to the user Edit your meta descriptions several times. On a second or even third time, you'll often see better ways to put more benefits, details, and value into the available space. Also, don't be afraid to go back and update your meta descriptions from existing pages.
Write this way and meta descriptions become a more than important ranking factor for your pages. It makes clicking on your blog post, product or web page the only practical action. Hello, high CTR!
Missing or unoptimized meta descriptions are one of the most common technical SEO problems.
Below are some examples of good Meta descriptions and why they are good.
Enjoy the videos and music you love, upload original content, and share it all with friends, family, and the world on YouTube.
Why? This meta description is written for the end user. It is informative and communicates the idea of fun and community while in a short and powerful way.
Find vacation rentals, cabins, beach houses, unique homes and experiences around the world - all made possible by hosts on Airbnb.
Why? It directly compares the brand to "experiences." It also contains action-oriented verbs, which attract clicks.
Explore the world of LEGO® through games, videos, products and more! Shop awesome LEGO® building toys and brick sets and find the perfect gift for your kid.
Why? Again, we see a well-written mini-advertisement with actionable verbs and good keywords.
The meta titles and description are a small but powerful aspect of search engine optimization - it's the chance to beat your competitors with it. Too many companies leave this out and in turn miss a crucial opportunity to improve CTR.
Make sure you create an engaging meta description for your pages that convinces end users to click on you instead of your competitors. SEO is ultimately about creating the most positive search experience for visitors, not chasing Google's algorithm.