Title tags, meta descriptions, and page URLs are three of the most important ranking factors when it comes to on-page SEO. There are thousands of ranking factors that search engines use when deciding which websites to show in search results and the order they appear in. Implementing SEO best practices is a great way to start increasing the number of visitors your website receives, as well as the amount of revenue your website can generate through eCommerce sales or ad revenue.
While there are many factors to consider when optimizing your website, these three onsite SEO factors should be at the top of your list. In case you missed the first sentence of this article, those factors are title tags, meta descriptions, and page URLs.
In this article, we will go over each of these three onsite SEO ranking factors and their importance when it comes to the success of your SEO campaign.
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What is a title tag and why are they important for SEO
This is the first thing that people will see when they perform a search on any search engine, Google included. It is the title displayed in large blue letters in Google’s search results.
The title tag is the text that will appear in the search results, telling users what the page is about before they even click on it. It is also the title that appears on links during a preview or social share meant to describe the page before a user visits it. The text in a title tag is also what will appear at the top of any web browser while on that page.
Title tags are important for SEO because it gives users an idea of what kind of content they can find on your page. This helps keep the click-through rate high and encourages higher time-on-page metrics by making the post appear more qualified to fit a specific search term.
How long should a Title Tag Be?
Search engines like Google don’t specify a recommended length for website title tags, although keeping your title tags under 60 characters will ensure that the entire title tag will appear on most devices whether the search was performed on a desktop computer, laptop, smartphone, or tablet.
Google’s crawl spiders will read an entire title tag, even if it extends past our recommended 60-character limit. This is important to know when optimizing your title tags with specific keywords or brand phrases.
When optimizing a title tag. avoid using keywords used in the title tag for another page on your website. Using the same keyword for more than one page is called keyword cannibalization. If your website specializes in selling designer handbags, adding “designer handbags” to the title tag of every product you sell won’t help you sell more individual bags, and each page will be competing with each other for the top spot in search results.
How To Write A Good Title Tag
Keywords closer to the beginning of your title tag are weighted with more importance than the words at the end. Keeping your focus keywords near the beginning of your title tags can give you an edge when optimizing for high competition keywords.
If you are working on a website that has a well-known brand, including the brand name in your title tags can add a level of trust for users searching for products or services you offer.
Why Is Your Title Tag Not Showing On Google
Sometimes Google and other search engines will choose to show a different title than what you’ve specified in your web page’s title tag. While this can be very frustrating, in some cases, it can be a good thing.
Google will change the title it shows in its search results if your title tag is too long, keyword-stuffed, reads too unnaturally, have an alternative title in your metadata, or thinks a change in title text will add relevance to your page for another related search term.
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What are meta descriptions and how do they affect SEO
Similar to a page’s title tag, its meta description appears under the title of a page in search results. In the same way, that title tags give a rough idea of the content on a page; meta descriptions let you be more descriptive about the content of your page due to having a higher character limit than title tags.
Something to know is that Google has previously announced that meta descriptions are not a factor in their ranking algorithm. However, this does not mean that they shouldn’t be used. While Google may have confirmed that they are not factored into their ranking algorithm, other metrics like CTR are proven to be a factor.
Having a descriptive and helpful meta description appear under the title of your page in search results can help persuade thousands of people to click on your website instead of the competition.
In addition to appearing below your title in search results, some social media websites and apps will show a page’s meta description in their link previews when other metadata isn’t provided. Sites like Facebook and Twitter have other types of metadata that can be added to your website’s head section to change the look of link previews on their platform.
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How Long Should Meta Descriptions Be?
While there is no maximum to how long you can write your meta descriptions, most search engines won’t show more than 150 characters. However, when writing meta descriptions, you should aim for them to be longer than a page’s title tag to add more descriptive words and help narrow the focus of your page to give both readers and crawl bots an easier time understanding the content of a page.
With this in mind, your meta descriptions should be between 60 and 150 characters long.
What Makes A Good Meta Description
The best meta descriptions focus on a specific keyword that has a high search volume to appeal to the highest number of potential people. However, something to keep in mind is that search engines will bold specific keywords that people search for if it appears in a page’s meta description.
By using lots of descriptive words and including high search volume keywords in your meta descriptions, your page will stand out among other search results and entice more people to click on your website.
A common mistake when writing meta descriptions is over-optimization to the point it reads like spam and keyword stuffing. Another thing to avoid is reusing meta descriptions on several pages. Each page of your website should have a unique meta description.
Another important thing to remember when writing meta descriptions is to avoid using quotation marks or non-alphanumeric characters except when you are ending a sentence. Some characters like text within quotation marks can trigger signals for Google to stop reading and end a meta description. For this reason, when writing meta descriptions on your website, try to write 1 or 2 easy-flowing but descriptive sentences.
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What is a URL and how does it impact SEO?
A page’s URL is the link people will have to click on or type into their search bar to get to a specific page of a website. URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator but is often just referred to as URL, link, or web address. The URL was designed to replace IP addresses for websites and provide a file structure for websites.
To keep things simple, think of a page’s URL as the link to access a page.
A page’s URL has a significant impact on its ranking in search results. Having an easy-to-read and write URL provides a great user experience to allow people to easily find your website, return to your website, and identify your website at a glance.
A page’s URL appears in search results right underneath its title. Although recently, this has been changed to appear above a page’s title. By making your page’s URL relevant to the title, you are adding another keyword for both human eyes to notice and search engine crawl spiders to take note of. A page’s URL can be a short description of the content of the page and, in some cases, even mimics the page’s title. This helps to improve user experience by keeping the data shown in search results consistent.
On mobile searches, sometimes the URL shown in search results is shortened to the domain of the website instead of a page’s entire URL. However, you should still include your focus keyword in a page’s URL whenever possible.
An easy-to-type URL is easier to share when copy-paste isn’t an option, especially when your website visitors are talking about you on forums or social media.
Research shows that typically short URLs outrank long URLs, so be sure to keep your URLs short with only the keywords you are focusing on optimizing for.
Something to know about URLs when using subdomains is that search engines like Google treat them as entirely different websites than the primary domain they are attached to. This can be great when competing in multiple cities and you are looking to localize your website.
In 2011 and again in 2016, Google even confirmed that keywords in URLs are a factor in deciding which website’s to show at the top of search results.
Title tags, meta descriptions, and page URLs are all important parts of on-page SEO that you should consider when making optimization decisions on your website. To learn more about SEO and other on-page ranking factors or off-page ranking factors, check out the rest of our blog, where we cover information about SEO, digital marketing, and more.
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