by Angela Moore | Featured Contributor
Meta data sounds so technical right? Unless you’re in the SEO business you may not even give it a second thought. Unless of course you are trying to make sure your own website is in shape, specifically for the search engine robots and potential website visitors
But what if you aren’t trying to rank your website in the search engines? Does meta data still matter? Yes, and I’ll tell you why in just a minute.
We’re only going cover Title and Description here.
So how is the title of your page different than the meta title of your page? Well I’m glad you asked. Your page title is basically what your visitors see in the menu or navigation of your website. Typically things like:
- Service 1
- Contact Us
Your meta title is what is seen by the search engines as well as in the browser tab. Let’s take a look at the differences you might see.
You can see in the image below. The Home page of this site is aptly titled Home. Even though this is recommended practice for user experience on your website, the search engines don’t care about that. See they look at your” meta title” first to see what the page is about. The meta title for this page is the company name.
Now let’s look at an inner page. This site has a page titled, Landscaping. However the meta title is “Landscape Design in Pismo Beach and SLO County”. This is because that is the area this business serves. But if that was the page title on the site, it would be long and awkward for the site.
It’s pretty easy to use whatever meta title you want with WordPress sites. Just install an SEO plugin and type in whatever you want. Don’t get all crazy here and try to type in everything under the sun. Each page should be focused on one main topic, same for your blog posts. You can add a secondary phrase or keyword in if you like but the search engines read from left to right just like humans and give more “weight” to what they see first.
Now let’s say you’re having a hard time with what you should title your page. Well I’ve got a little trick you can use. Did you know you can pretty much see the source code of any site? Well you can unless it’s got a way to prevent you from doing that but that’s a story for another day.
Here’s what you do. Find a site that offers similar info to yours. Just do a Google search and see what pages come up for that topic. Now if you want to be really smart about it, check the top few results and see what they use in their meta titles. Now granted your page content should match whatever you want to use as a meta title ok. Think of it as like an outline you wrote in school. Make sure it makes sense.
When you are on a website, just right click your mouse and you’ll see a menu of options and one says View Page Source or Ctrl+U. Then when take that action, you’ll see a bunch of stuff that makes no sense to you. Here’s how it looks.
Next let’s cover meta descriptions real quick. This is basically that little description you see in the search results. This is generally what will make someone click on a specific page over another page. It is also what can be pulled into social media posts if someone shares that page link. You can use the same technique you did for meta titles and check the source code but use “description” instead of title.
This can be super helpful if you are stuck with what to say. Otherwise the search engines are going to choose a snippet of text for you. The more alluring this snippet of text is the better. You want to entice the reader to click.
Now here is a really important tidbit to keep in mind No duplicate meta data across all your pages. Every page should have a unique meta title and description!
And there you have it. Meta data is important to readers and the search engines so don’t ignore it. And now you’ve got an easy way to find popular meta data and use it to your advantage.