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Nicole Hess

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, if you don’t or don’t find these two elements at all, then you have no meta data....">Meta Data for Ranking and Clicks

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If you go to any one of your site’s pages and right click to view the source. Check to see if you have anything written in for <title > and for <meta name="description" >, if you don’t or don’t find these two elements at all, then you have no meta data.

“So what?!” Do you say? First, I’m not surprised, many a veteran SEO specialists often forget about these coded items, but important they are.

Two reasons: (1) Meta data is critical for search engines to add your website information into their database. The meta descriptions describe the web page in a succinct, keyword and location rich

way. (2) It is what appears for your listing in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). See the image below that shows the “title” is the link someone would click on and the “description” is the text just below that link.

Now hopefully you understand the importance of meta data… on to what they are and how to fill them in!

Quick Definitions

Meta Data usually relates to three items – Meta Page Title, Meta Description and Meta Keywords, all three items are found near the top of the HTML for each page.

The page title or “title tag” is the page in search engine results. A missing or poor title tag will make it difficult for your page to rank well in search engines. The title is the title of the page that shows at the very top of the browser bar and at the top of a listing in the Google search result on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page).

The meta description tag provides a brief description of your page which can be used by search engines or directories.

Meta-keywords are a few key phrases that you select to help indicate what your page is about to search engines. They were once important for search engines, but now have lost their importance, gathering these is still beneficial as it assist you to create page content that is relevant to the topic, what people are searching for and to know what you may need to optimize for.

Let’s put these to use!

The first rule of thumb when creating meta data is to treat it like writing a paper for a class (even if the class was years ago, the same principles still apply). First you want to research your audience, what are they searching for and how does that relate to what you want to do? In this step I usually use the Google Insights tool and put in some keyphrases to see if anyone is searching for what I think they would be and the Google Keyword tool to see what people are really searching for. These I gather as the keyphrases that can be used in the meta keyphrases and should make an appearance on the page and one or two in the title and description.

Once you know what your audience wants, you move on to connecting your goal to the desires of your audience. Are you writing to inform them of something? To get them to buy something? Whatever it is, you want to create content that both meets their interest and your goals. If you can summarize your goal in 1 sentence as it relates to the interest of your audience, then you have the meta description.

For the page title, think of it as the 7-10 most compelling words that describe your page’s topic. So if you’re writing about how your frozen yogurt is loved by former ice cream addicts then it could be, “If you love ice cream; you’ll love this frozen yogurt” Remember that this line is what shows at the top of the result for your listing in the search results – so treat it well. People want a reason to click on your listing and they also don’t want to be tricked or click on something spammy. Thus be careful and don’t just say “ice cream lovers!” if you’re really selling frozen yogurt and avoid overly using the ! and any other #%&!(, they just don’t look credible in those results.

I’ve got it all, now how do I add them?

If you run a WordPress site, this normally can be done easily with the addition of Yoast’s SEO plugin for Wordpress. It will then give you the page title, description and keyword fields to fill in on each page. If you have a site in DRUPAL, then there is the DRUPAL SEO Grid that is similar to this. Otherwise, you’ll need to download your pages into an HTML editor (like Dreamweaver) and add the fields yourself.

So that’s it.

Follow these steps to happily SEOing with your Meta Data!

More helpful guides for meta data:

Google SEO Starter Guide

SEOMOZ Beginner Guide

Melissa Fach of Search Engine Land

The Part of a SERP (Search Engine Results Page) Listing

The Part of a SERP (Search Engine Results Page) Listing

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