Top tips for optimising your meta-tags
An effective and uncomplicated way to make your website easier for Google to crawl and index is to audit your meta-tags. Depending on how many pages you have, this could be a big job requiring a lot of time looking at a spreadsheet.
But, it’s something you can control directly and change relatively quickly. It also works. Not just for search engines, but also for your human visitors. If you fancy taking this on, here are some useful pointers for optimising your meta-tags…
Page title or title tag
A couple of years ago page titles started getting the same treatment as links and H1s. Website owners and agencies all knew Google was using them as a search signal, so they started packing them with keywords.
Since the Penguin update, overdoing your page titles can actively hurt your search rankings. If, when you hover over your browser tab, a list of your favourite 10 keywords pops up, you’re trying too hard and you’re running the risk of getting a rap on the knuckles from Google.
Your page title should be unique. It should describe what’s on the page accurately and using only a few words. You should also include your company or brand name, like this: “descriptive words | example.com”.
Google hasn’t paid much attention to meta keywords for a good while now. There was some buzz last year about Bing looking at them again, but if you’re running a business in Australia and New Zealand where Google totally dominates search, you won’t care too much about that. Meta keywords are really just a good way to tell your competitors which keywords you’re trying to rank for.
There’s no direct search benefit here, as Google won’t use your meta-description to rank your page. But it is an important one to get right, as it will appear in Google’s search results and represents your pitch to potential visitors. A well-written, unique meta-description will improve your click-through and you’ll want one for every page on your site.
If you look at any eye-tracking studies for web pages, you’ll see people are drawn to anything that isn’t text. This is a good reason to invest in quality photos or custom graphics. If you’ve done that already, make sure you get the credit for it.
Google’s super-smart search algorithm still needs a helping hand to index images. It can use the text around it, but it will also pay attention to the alt tag. This can usually double-up as a caption that actually appears on the image, describing a short description of what we’re looking at.
Video blogs, testimonials and animations can make a huge contribution to enriching your website. But like images and graphics, you need to make sure Google has an easy time crawling and indexing them. One regularly missed opportunity is on YouTube, where you can add full transcripts of your videos. This will make it much more likely that they will turn up in relevant search results.