Whenever you load a piece of content into your content management system or design it in HTML, whether it is a web page or a blog article, you have the ability to add descriptions (tags) to that content that signal to a search engine bot what it is all about. Bots like the Googlebot crawl the internet to pick up keywords that relate to content. Here are the basics of Title, Meta, and Header Tags for SEO Beginners, so that when people search certain terms, the search results correlate well to what they are looking for.
These tags also give users seeing the tags in search results a better idea of the content you are presenting, which can increase clickthrough rate. Beyond search engines, tags may appear on external sites like Facebook and Twitter social media sites when links are shared. In this search engine optimization (SEO) beginner’s guide, let’s take a look at title, meta and header tags: what they mean and how to optimize them for your business.
What Are Title Tags?
Think of the title tag of a web page the same you would as the headline of a news article. You have limited space to grab consumer attention and get them to peruse your content. Your title tag should:
- Include keywords that relate to what your page is about
- Clearly and concisely (in 65 characters or less) tell web users what the page is about
- Be compelling enough to incite a click
Get to the point quickly. Title tags that exceed 65 characters with spaces will be cut off in search engines.
If you’ve said what you needed to and still have some characters left, you can add your brand name to the title tag with a separator (like a | sign) to add more context to the web page. The goal is to maximize use of the space you have.
While keywords are a great signal to the Googlebot what the page is about, Google favors user experience over all else. If you stuff the title tag with as many keywords as possible, you could get penalized for a spammy tag.
Aim to give each of your web pages a unique title, and one that stands out from the rest of the web while also being relevant to the content. Duplicate title tags across a website is an SEO no-no, because you lose out on results and provide a sub-par user experience.
Meta Tags Explained
Meta descriptions are longer descriptions of what the page is about. Again, these show up in search engines and on external sites like social media.
Generally, up to 155 characters of a meta description will show up on search engines. You can write more if you want, but lead with the most important info to make sure it’s seen.
Some valuable best practices when creating meta tags are:
- Describe the page clearly
- Use different but relevant keywords than you used in the title tag
- End the meta tag with a call to action
Just like title tags, you want to avoid duplicate meta descriptions. When you have a unique meta tag for every page, this helps your SEO.
It’s tempting to get really creative when writing title tags and meta tags, and go a cutesy or abstract route. Avoid this. You’re looking for search results. The Googlebot is not sophisticated enough to decipher your creativity.
Benefits of Using Header Tags
Finally, header tags actually appear in the content itself. These are designated as H1, H2, H3 and so on tags throughout the page copy.
The H1 tag is the main headline of the page. This should be slightly different than but similar to the title tag you upload, so search engines get more context to what the page is about, and you can use keywords in different ways.
H2 and H3 tags are sub-heads in a page that break up the content. (“Benefits of Using Header Tags” is an example of an H2 tag on this page.) These types of tags give brands more opportunities to use keywords. You can also use H2 tags to target longtail searches, which are the longer, more detailed terms people type into search engines.
Like any content you produce for the web, the best way to optimize for search is to create for the user. Header tags should make sense in the context of the copy, they shouldn’t be stuffed with keywords, and they should contribute to a positive user experience.
Want to Optimize Your Tags?
At AlphaMind Studios, we offer SEO consultation, strategy and execution for a wide variety of clients. We can help you. Contact us for a free SEO consultation on what we can offer your business.