Title Tag and Meta Description

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Why are we writing an article on something so trivial? Quite simply because the topic is often neglected. We conduct dozens of comprehensive site audits and website reviews every year. While the visual quality of many websites is constantly improving and numerous usability experts are working on the user experience of a website, the most obvious thing is often forgotten: the title tag and the meta description. Yet they are probably still two of the most important SEO factors of all! Because the website metadata ultimately determines whether you get visitors from the organic search results or not.

The Title Tag in Google SERP

As the name suggests, the title tag or meta title includes the title, heading or a very brief description of the content of the website. The title tag is displayed as a heading in the snippet on the search results page (SERP) of a search engine. It is therefore a direct signboard of your site and what a user is most likely to notice in the page snippet of Google search results. If the search term entered in Google appears in the title tag, it is highlighted in bold.  

Each page of a domain for which a good ranking is sought receives a unique title tag that is about 50 to 60 characters long. Anything longer than this will not be displayed in the Google search results. Or Google even decides itself and builds its own title from the content of the page.

Title Tag: Best and Worst Practices in Implementation

The title tag is placed in the HEAD section of the HTML markup and should not be set or filled via Ajax or JavaScript if possible.

A good title tag
  • contains the central keyword of the page 

  • appeals directly to the user and attracts him, animates him to click on the search result 

  • has no more than 60 characters 

  • describes the expected content of the page in a short and crisp way 

  • mentions a brand name at the end (if necessary), separated by a hyphen or a pipe

A bad Title Tag
  • consists of keywords strung together 

  • is the same for all pages 

  • is too short or much too long 

  • does not stand out from the mass of search results

Why the Meta Description is important in SEO

In itself, the meta description is not a direct ranking factor. However, since a meta description can significantly influence the click-through rate to a page, it is an indirect factor, so to speak, and its effect is very significant. It is displayed as a description of the page under the title in the snippet on the search results page of a search engine. It supplements the title and assures the user that he will get the content he expects on the target page. If the search term entered in Google appears in the meta description, it is bolded. 

As with the title tag, the meta description should be unique for each page and describe the expected content as best as possible. The length of the meta description should not exceed 160 characters so that it appears completely in the Google search results.

Google often creates its own meta descriptions

Even more frequently than with the title tag, Google now decides to ignore the meta description provided by the website operator and creates descriptions independently from the content of the respective page. Whether and when Google displays specially created meta descriptions on a search results page usually depends on the search input.  

Especially for long-tail searches, the predefined meta descriptions often do not match the search query well. Therefore, Google tries to better meet the information needs of users with its own creations of Meta Descriptions. Although Google often takes the initiative, website operators should still create meta descriptions for their pages in order to keep a certain control over the presentation of their pages in the SERPs.

The Meta Description in practice

The meta description is in the HEAD section of the HTML markup and should not be set or filled via Ajax or JavaScript if possible.

A good Meta Description
  • contains the central keyword or/and variants of the keyword of the page 

  • addresses the user directly with his search intention, encourages him to click on the search result 

  • contains a recommendation for action, if possible 

  • may also contain Unicode special characters (e.g. check marks) 

  • does not exhaust the number of characters completely at any price

A bad Meta Description
  • contains bent sentences that only serve to accommodate as many keywords as possible 

  • does not allow reading flow or is difficult to grasp 

  • does not describe what the user can expect on the page 

  • is the same for all pages

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