SEO Basics: How to Write Quality Meta Titles & Descriptions
In the better building industry — first impressions are everything. If you don’t come off as professional, all those potential customers will just find someone else to do business with. Meta titles and meta descriptions offer the first impression a customer sees when they’re searching for your services.
What are Meta Titles & Meta Descriptions?
Even if you think you don’t know what a meta title or a meta description is, you actually see them every time you search for something online.
Do Meta Titles & Descriptions Matter?
Meta tags no longer directly influence Google’s ranking algorithm — it’s a common misconception that they do. That being said, well-written metadata can entice a user to click on a page — which is one of the biggest search engine ranking factors. If searchers are consistently clicking on your website instead of your competitor’s, Google is smart enough to understand that and rank your site higher.
If a webpage doesn’t have a meta description, the search engine may pull in a snippet of text from the page. Unfortunately, this copy isn’t optimized and often you’ll see something like this:
What is this page about? Why would a user want to click on it?
Whether you’re a local home performance, HVAC, or solar contractor — one of the first steps in optimizing your website should be ensuring that you have properly written meta titles and descriptions. Making sure there are no duplicates in your metadata is also key, otherwise those pages may be penalized by Google.
How to Write Meta Titles
In order to inform searchers about what each page on your site is about, you need to focus on writing informative meta titles. Each page’s meta title should be no more than 70 characters. (Although there is some variance since the cut off for Google is now 600 pixels and the width of the letters used has an impact.)
The best practice format includes:
[Page title (generally includes a keyword)] | [Company] | [Geographic location]
Structuring your meta titles in this way will help inform a user what the page is about, what company it’s from and where that company is located or offers services (which is especially critical for a local business). Someone looking for air conditioning repair will be much more likely to click on a SERP listing with the following meta title:
Air Conditioning Repair | Joe’s HVAC | Indianapolis & Carmel, IN
Official Site — Joe’s HVAC
They know what they’re getting and that it’s close to them. It’s not some generic site that may or may not have the information they need.
How to Write Meta Descriptions
While the meta title is an overview of the page, the meta description provides a bit more information. It should be no longer than 160 characters (while Google has been experimenting with displaying longer descriptions, it’s still safer to stick the shorter standard of 160 characters). Otherwise, there is no set format to follow. The meta description of every page should be an accurate summary of what content it contains.
Avoid Keyword Stuffing
Remember, your metadata doesn’t affect your ranking position on the SERP, so there’s no benefit to adding more keywords. When writing naturally, you’ll definitely use at least one keyword, but keyword stuffing will only confuse potential customers. A good tip is to read your meta description out loud and if it sounds like something you could say naturally in conversation then chances are that people will understand it.
There’s no doubt this company thought they’d be in the first position for “insulation.”
Start Optimizing the Search Experience for Your Customers
While there’s a lot that your contracting business or company in the better building sector can do to rank higher in search organically, it’ll be useless if potential customers are confused by your meta tags and avoid clicking on your listing. Updating your meta titles and descriptions might take a little time, but when you get the formula down for the meta titles, focus on writing natural descriptions and adhere to the character restrictions, it’ll become easier.
Once you have your metadata written, it’s time to add it to your website. Unless you’re used to messing around in the HTML of your pages, there are simpler ways to make these updates. For sites that use Drupal (like our clients on the Energy Circle Web Platform) the Metatag module allows metadata to be updated. If your company’s site is built using Wordpress, we recommend the Yoast SEO plugin. Squarespace and Wix websites have metadata functionality built in.
With your optimized meta titles and meta descriptions in place you’ll be in a much better position to increase search traffic — and the quality of that traffic, since users will know exactly what to expect when they hit your site and won’t bounce off right away.