Better Search Engine Rankings: Page Titles and Descriptions

A couple of weeks ago, a small business contacted me because they weren’t being found on Google when they (or their customers) searched for themselves. This company recently had another design firm build their website but the designer failed to do any basic SEO (search engine optimization) -- the stuff they DID do was outdated and no longer relevant.

Simply put, they did very little to help this company get found when customers came looking for them via on the internet.

Honestly, it’s a shame that design companies don’t do more when creating websites for their clients, but often, they consider this an “add on” or “extra” that isn’t covered in the contract. Bah Humbug, i say!

First off, the advice i’m dispensing is very simple and considered elementary in level of SEO importance. There is so much more that goes into getting a higher rank in Google -- good content, inbound links, responsive design and load times, social media, etc.

Titles:

Webpage titles show up in the browser's tab, search results, and when shared (w/ social media sites).

Keywords (i.e. words that people use to search for you) need to be in your page title. Example: If you’re famous for donuts but your business is called “Drew’s Bakery”, you’d want to be sure you have “donuts” as a keyword in your title.

Best practices for titles (as of January 1, 2015):

1. Approximately 50-60 characters (<55 is ideal). Example: Ruryl Studios - Websites, SEO, Social Media and Consulting
2. Main keywords need to be in title
3. Name at the front of of title if you have a strong brand, name at the back if you have a new/weak brand
4. Don’t look spammy! It should read naturally -- don’t overload the title with every keyword imaginable

Use the Moz.com Title Emulator Tool to see how your page title will appear in Google’s search results. http://moz.com/blog/new-title-tag-guidelines-preview-tool

Examples of Bad Page Titles: http://www.dmoz.org/erz/sites/title.html

Descriptions:

Should be <160 characters. Think about writing an ad for your webpage with your major keywords included in this section. This should sound natural and easy to read.

Meta Keywords:

Google says they’ve stopped using this feature for search engine rankings -- other search engines might still use this but it comes across as spammy. Stick with 20 or less keywords if you feel like you need this section filled in. Make sure the keywords are comma separated.

That’s it. You’ve taken your first steps toward higher rankings in Google. (Let’s party!)

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