Writing Good Titles & Meta Descriptions

titles in browser tabs

Writing Good Titles & Meta Descriptions: Peak District SEO

Titles and Descriptions are metadata. We often get asked about the best way to write titles and meta descriptions for web pages. Metadata helps users and search engines understand what a website is about.

Page Titles

Titles are VERY important for SEO. The title is the name of the page, category page or a product page.  When browsing the web you can see the title of the page on the Tab that you have open.

The image below shows how the three main web browsers display plage titles on the tab of a browser.

titles in browser tabs
titles in browser tabs – Chrome, Safari and Firefox

When displayed on a browser tab the title tag seems almost inconsequential.
Perhaps this is why it is so often overlooked?

However, the title is actually far more useful when we see how it’s used in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP).

Here’s an example

title tag displayed in SERP
title tag displayed in SERP

As you can see, the title tag for Debenhams helps describe the website and what it sells.  Titles, often called Meta Titles present you the website owner with a great opportunity to uniquely title each and every page on your site.
This information can help influence whether web users click the listing or choose another one.

We often see websites with many pages that do not have titles at all.  When a web page doesn’t have a title, it appears in the SERP as UNTITLED DOCUMENT

Here’s an example

untitled document
These pages all need titles

If your website has pages without a title, these pages lose an opportunity to convey your message or advertise your products and services.

How Long Should Title Tags Be?

Title tags should be no longer than 70 characters long or 600 pixels wide.  *Google increased the allowed length of both titles and meta-descriptions in 2017.

The pixels measurement should not be ignored as that relates to mobile devices. In 2018 Google is switching over to the mobile first index, meaning that it will show mobile-friendly results first.

“The mobile-first index is Google’s attempt at looking at the web and indexing and ranking the web from a mobile-first perspective. This means that if you have a mobile-friendly version of your website, instead of indexing the desktop version, Google will first index that website’s mobile version.T
SearchEngineLand Feb21st 2018

Meta Descriptions

Meta Descriptions are also very important but are NOT a ranking factor.
We use meta descriptions to give users a further indication of what a web page is about. The same sorts of rules apply to an information page, a category page or a product page.

How Long Should Meta Descriptions Be?

The recommended length of meta descriptions changes over time.  In 2018  the recommended length is 320 characters. This is a considerable increase from the previous limit of 155 characters.

Writing A Good Meta Descriptions

To write a good meta description you should mention what the page is about and who is writing it.  In addition, you can mention any special features or interest points.  The more compelling your meta description is, the more likely someone will click it.  Provide as much information as possible in as fewer words as possible.  The final part of a good Meta Description should use a call to action.

meta description

Useful Links
Big Leap – Metadata

Phil Gregory

Phil is the founder of Peak District SEO. He helps businesses make more money. Using traditional Search engine Optimisation (SEO), Social Media, and paid advertising (PPC). Phil loves Real Ale & Fell Running.

The Ultimate Beginners Guide to SEO Jargon

SEO Jargon Buster

The Ultimate Beginners Guide to SEO Jargon: By Phil Gregory. Director, Peak District SEO

So you have a website, and you’ve heard that you need SEO, But what even is SEO?

A few weeks back This post appeared as a guest post over on Social Myna The Their MD, Kaye Booth, asked me to write a blog post that could explain all that tricky SEO terminology that you have been struggling to get your head around.  Let’s start with some basic terms.

SEO
SEO stands for search engine optimisation. That’s the process of improving a website so that it shows up higher in the search results. For example, if a person searches on Google or Bing, a well-optimised page will appear closer to the top of the listings.

SERP
Serps, this stands for Search Engine Results Page. So if you hear web professionals referring to your position in the SERP, they are talking about where your website appears in the rankings.

Rankings
The term ranking essentially means where a website appears in the SERP. A website that appears at the top of the list of results is considered to have the #1 Organic ranking.

Organic SEO
Organic SEO is when your SEO agency works on your site with the goal of improving your rankings without using paid search methods

Paid Search
Paid search, is when you pay a fee to advertise your business. the most common types of paid search are Google Adwords, Bing Ads, or Facebook Ads. There are other types of online advertising.

PPC
Pay Per Click. A term applied to online advertising such as Google Adwords where you only pay when someone clicks your ad.

Local SEO
Local SEO is the process of ensuring that your site ranks well in your local area. The first step to doing this is to use Google My Business (GMB). This is free to set up. You can also add your listing to regional directories of which there are literally hundreds. Take advice before starting this though, if done incorrectly, it can cause issues with local SEO.

Traffic
Web traffic is the flow of visitors that come to your website. It consists of two parts, Sessions and Visitors. Sessions are the number of individual visits, Visitors are people or bots who visit your site.

Direct Traffic
Direct traffic is officially described as visits that come directly to your site. For example, a user knows your brand and types your URL into the browser. Or they have your address bookmarked (in favourites) and they click a link from there.

* However, recent evidence suggests that traffic that cannot be exactly identified is attributed to being direct traffic by search engines.

Referral Traffic
Referral traffic comes to your site from other websites. For example Facebook, Twitter or any sites that link to yours.

SEO Audit
Site Audit

A site audit is essentially a health check carried out by SEO professionals. There are many types of Audit, some better than others. You can pay for an audit, or there are free ones. Paid audits are usually necessary for websites experiencing major issues. Free SEO audits are given as an overview of existing problems, they are usually simple and non-exhaustive.

Website Architecture Jargon

HTML
(HyperText Markup Language) this is simply the code that powers your website. When browsing a webpage, right click and choose “view source”. You will see the HTML which is a set of directives that tell your browser how to display the content on the page.

URL
URL stands for (uniform resource locator). None the wiser? No, didn’t think so. Its a posh name for website address. Daniel Miessler has a more detailed explanation.

Head
The head is a section of your HTML code. It appears at the top of the code, and usually contains specific instructions for the browser. Called metadata. For example the code language of the page, the written language, title of the page, and a description. Links to external files like CSS (cascading style sheets), and javascript.

CSS or Stylesheets
Your style sheet is a text document that contains a set of instructions for web browsers on how to display the contents of a web page. CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) files are often standalone, but CSS commands can also be embedded inside any individual page.

Javascript
A separate code language that enables extra capabilities on your website. Often used to power slideshows, or process forms and menu systems.

Body
The body is the main part of your HTML code and always appears below the HEAD section. It contains all the information on your page, such as text, images, links, etc.

Copy
“Copy” is just a fancy way of saying text. If you are told your site needs more copy, you need to write more words on your web pages.  If you don’t like writing copy, speak to us. Phil is a qualified Copywriter.

Terms Your SEO Team Will Mention

Now that we’ve covered the broad terms, let’s take a look at a longer list of words that your SEO company are likely to use when discussing issues they find on your website.

Authority
Authority is an indication defined by the search engines that your site is or isn’t trusted. The key types of SEO related Authority in 2018 are DA (Domain authority), TF – (Trust Flow) and CF (Citation Flow).

Pagerank
Page Rank is a metric used by Google to determine the authority of a website based on the number and quality of backlinks pointing at a website. Google used to have a browser toolbar which displayed your page rank score, but page rank is no longer a public metric. Google stopped updating it in 2013.

Domain Authority
DA is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages.

Trust Flow
TF is a score created by MAJESTIC predicting how trustworthy a page is based on how trustworthy sites tend to link to other trustworthy sites.

Citation Flow
is also a score created by Majestic, to predict how influential a URL might be based on how many sites link to it.

Duplicate Content
Duplicate content is when you have very similar content on more than one page. Try not to be tempted to copy content from other websites, unless you have permission even then you should cite the source.

Canonical URLs
If you have a product that has variations, for example, Men’s, Star Wars T-shirt. And that T-shirt is available in several sizes such as small, medium, large and extra large. It is a mistake to create a different product for each variation. It isn’t 4 different products, its one product with 4 variations.

SSL Certificate
SSL Certificates are files that digitally bind an encrypted code to an organization’s details. When installed on a web server, it activates the padlock icon in your browser’s’ address bar and creates an https version of your website’s pages.This allows secure connections from a web server to a browser.

Alt Attribute/Tags
Alt attributes are often (incorrectly) called alt tags. Whenever you have an image on your page, you have the option of adding alt attributes to it. Alts are basically just an opportunity to describe the image It’s the best practice to add these for accessibility. It’s also a great way to add relevant keywords.

Mobile Friendly
This term refers to how your website looks and works on a mobile phone or tablet device. If your site works well and looks good on these devices the chances are your site is mobile friendly.
If it doesn’t scale down and work well, you need to get your website redesigned.

301 / 302 Redirects
Redirects are directives given to the browser to send users who request an old web address to new web address without them realising. To ensure that users don’t land on a page that no longer exists, you need to add a 301 redirect.

For example, a user requests:

https://mysite.com/products/my-ace-product
but you have moved the page to
https://mysite.com/my-ace-product

The redirect catches the request and sends your visitor to the new page without issuing a 404 not found page.

404 error
A 404 is an error message displayed by a browser when a web address cannot be found. A few 404s don’t harm your site but too many can annoy your visitors and cost you leads and sales.

Analytics

Web Analytics
Analytics is a broad term for software that tracks visits to your website. You Must have some form of analytics installed to effectively monitor your site’s performance. The most popular web analytics is Google Analytics.

Search Console / Webmaster Tools
If you want to promote your website you should use a set of free Webmaster tools.
Google’s version is called Search Console and Bing’s is called Bing Webmaster tools.

These tools can gather information about queries to your site. Request that the site is crawled and indexed, highlight SEO shortcomings and more.

Google Tag Manager (GTM)
Tag manager is Google’s latest way to simplify the addition of tracking of code to websites.
Instead of adding lots of disparate pieces of code such as analytics, search console meta tag, bing webmaster tools meta tag, facebook pixel, twitter pixel, Pinterest meta tag. You can now just add the Google Tag manager container code to your site. GTM does the rest.

Crawl
A Crawl is when SEO companies use software to check the content and performance level of your website. The software is called a ‘spider’ or bot.

Spiders / Bots
A bot is a computer program that visits websites and gathers the code behind them, to help other companies create a database of information eg: Google, Bing or SEO Software companies.

Crawl Budget
This is nothing to do with money. Search engine bots have to crawl the entire web, it’s a massive job. In simple terms, Crawl budget is how many of your pages a bot will /can crawl.
Ideally, the simpler, and most logical sites are the best crawled. Sites with thousands of pages, duplications, faceted navigation may see that not all their pages are being crawled and indexed.

For more details on this see Google Webmasters Explanation on Crawl Budget.

Index
An index is a database of Web pages and their content.

If your SEO team say they will Index the page/site they mean they will crawl the site/page in order to add it to a search engine index. Indexed Pages are simply pages on a site which have been indexed.

Sitemap
There are two kinds of sitemaps.

HTML Sitemap
This is just a normal webpage on your site that contains a link to all the pages included on your site. It is easy to read for both human visitors and bots.

XML Sitemap
Your XML Sitemap is built for web crawlers, or search engine bots. It provides an up to date list of all the pages on your site so that the crawlers can visit every link (or as many as they can) and add them to the search engine listings.

Robots.txt. Robots File
The robots file is a text file that lives on your server, it tells bots which pages to index and which pages to ignore.

Blog
A Blog is a piece of software that can stand alone or as a wider part of a website that serves a set of news articles. Alternatively, it can work as a knowledge base about your specific products or service.

Blog Posts
Individual articles that reside within the structure of the blog.

Plugins
Small pieces of software that are added to your existing blog to enhance or extend its capabilities

That’s quite enough jargon for one read, but there’s more, lot’s more.  If you found this article useful, please don’t forget to share on Social Media.

Need to Know more about SEO?

Get in Touch


Phil Gregory

Phil is the founder of Peak District SEO. He helps businesses make more money. Using traditional Search engine Optimisation (SEO), Social Media, and paid advertising (PPC). Phil loves Real Ale & Fell Running.

In Conversation With: Stephen Boot of Sitello Web Hosting

Stephen Boot - Sitello web hostingI have known Stephen Boot for a long time now, he’s a quiet unassuming man who always has a cheeky smile on his face, almost as though he knows what you’re about to say next.

When I was working for Stoke on Trent Council in the early naughties Stephen was working as a web developer in Stafford. I had some small websites that I’d built and I needed hosting, I was fed up with the inflexible bigger companies, The way that you treat people is remembered for a long time. I chose Stephen to help me because he’d been so kind and informative whenever I’d visited their offices to deliver SEO training.

When I found out Stephen was setting up his own Web development company, I wanted to be supportive and help where I could. At that time, whenever anyone asked me about a reliable web hosting company, I’d refer them to Stephen.  Over the years I’ve referred lots of small businesses to Sitello, and they have always worked really hard to do whatever the clients needed.

So I thought Stephen would be a great person to talk to regarding how to put together and maintain an online business.

Stephen, you’ve been in business for a while now,how long as it been?

SB: Sitello was launched at the end of 2010. It was marketed as a hosting company primarily, but at the beginning, the main income was from web design and development.  I was 27 when I started the business. I had already worked in a web development company for almost 6 years, going from part-time tester to senior engineer, so I had the necessary experience and confidence to provide and support these types of services. I had built up a small amount of money and decided to go self-employed.

At this time, social media was still growing, so a lot of people still had and wanted their own website hosting. Nowadays, many small businesses simply create a Facebook page and think that’s all they need to do, so digital agencies need to be creative in showing what benefits can be had to having their own website.

PG: Yes, I encounter that a lot too, particularly with small businesses, who don’t have the technical know-how or confidence to manage a proper website.  I agree that digitals need to work harder to dissuade companies from placing ‘all their eggs in one basket’,  so to speak.

It must have been pretty scary launching a business in digital at that time, did you get any financial backing?

SB: I started the business out of my own pocket, with a very small amount of money. The main expenses were business insurance, hosting platform fees and accounting fees. Web hosting has very tight profit margins, so I still needed to rely on income from web design and development to pay the bills.

PG: Wasn’t it difficult to launch a web hosting business though, I’d have thought that the market was already saturated?

SB: With various web hosting reseller packages around, it’s very easy to set up your own web hosting brand. Most digital agencies have their own reseller accounts to offer customers who don’t want the hassle of finding a provider themselves, but few companies market it as their primary product.

PG: This was something that I looked into myself, when I used to design websites, certainly a great source of rolling income, but I certainly didn’t feel that I know enough about servers and such-like to ensure that my clients websites would be safe from hackers, I just didn’t want that kind of responsibility.

SB:  To do this, you need to prove you have a reliable and flexible platform – something which is very difficult to find. Luckily, I had the experience to know who was the best in the industry at the time, which helped me provide products that impressed a lot of my customers.

PG:  So what about your early clients, most startups struggle with the first few,  how did you land them?

SB:  My initial clients were small businesses I had supported from my previous employment. Other clients were friends from university and others through word-of-mouth.  At this point, I had literally done zero marketing, other than mentioning what I was doing in conversations. Being self-employed meant that I spent most of my time on web development projects, so I never really spent any time on marketing.

PG:  Sitello has been up and running now for 8 years, You must still enjoy your work.  What in particular motivates you?

SB:  There’s nothing that makes me feel more fulfilled than a customer who really values the advice or services I have provided to them.

When a customer comes to me – the experience is more than just filling in a form on a website and setting up payments. I truly try to go the extra mile to make sure that a customer gets the most out of their hosting package.

PG:  That’s certainly been my experience working with you. I can’t remember one time when I was irritated or disappointed by the outcome or customer service. I’m not just saying that either, such good service is really hard to find these days.

I’m keen to understand how has web hosting has changed since you started working in the industry.  I mean, what are the primary challenges that you face today compared to when you started?

SB: My very first personal website was created in 1997 and was hosted for free with a small web hosting company that is still going to this day. It was pretty clunky, but all I needed it to do is serve static HTML pages.

Domains were fairly expensive back then, so a lot of people had URLs such as http://webhost.net/~username/index.htm, which were not very memorable and were very bad for SEO.  A lot of ISPs bundled free web space with their dial-up internet, but most people would not bother using it nowadays.

The first hosting reseller I used at my previous employer was a fairly large company. They are still one of the most popular web hosting platforms in the UK. However, after hosting many different customers’ websites with them, I came to find that they were impersonal, had lots of downtime with little support, and their offering was pretty inflexible.

I knew the technology should work in theory but felt frustrated that they were letting our customers down.

By the time we’d had enough of them, some more platform providers had begun to offer their own reseller packages. This meant that we had more options open to us to migrate away from the legacy platform we were lumbered with.

Most reseller packages were only suited to a particular type of website technology. Some didn’t provide Windows hosting, which a lot of our customers at the time needed. In the end, we found a provider that had great reviews and were getting a lot of publicity. We decided to change to them, and this was to be the platform that Sitello would host customer’s websites on for the next 7 years.

Eventually, the provider was sold off to a conglomerate of other large hosting companies, and their support, price and range of products were a factor that was ultimately letting me and my customers down. In 2018 I decided to migrate all my customers to a new platform, where the owners had put their heart and soul into it. With minimal disruption, I managed to move all Sitello customers over to the new platform in 30 days or less. This meant that Sitello now uses one of the most advanced hosting platforms in the world, and can offer customers what most modern websites need – free SSL certificates, low-cost domains, hosting, and no degradation in service when demand increases.

 

PG: What do you think is the best innovation in your sector, how has it helped your business to grow?

SB: ‘Elastic Scalable Cloud Hosting’ may be a mouthful, but it means there are now whole data centres full of servers “on tap”, ready and waiting to serve web pages as fast as Google when demand increases, no matter how small your website.
Imagine a small business who puts out a local TV advert who has standard web hosting. The server would normally grind to a halt when even 10-20 people visit their website at the same time. With elastic scalable cloud hosting, this is not a problem. The website would respond as if you are the only person viewing it, and the web host doesn’t have to deal with an unhappy client when their website becomes unresponsive.

PG: So it sounds as though things are going great for you right now, tell our readers about how collaboration with other digitals helped your business to grow?

SB: It’s great to build up a network of like-minded business owners, where you can refer clients to get the best service for their budget. Peak District SEO has referred a fair few clients to Sitello over the years, which wouldn’t have known about me otherwise.

PG: Do you have any exciting plans for the future?

SB:  After recently changing my hosting platform partner, I plan to expand the product range and simplify the process of finding the ideal web hosting package.

PG: One piece of advice you’d offer to anyone starting a digital services company in 2018

SB: When choosing cloud services and applications, look for companies with the best reviews for support and technical expertise, no matter what the cost. No technology is perfect, but when you have great support, you’ll be thankful when the worst happens.

Phil Gregory

Phil is the founder of Peak District SEO. He helps businesses make more money. Using traditional Search engine Optimisation (SEO), Social Media, and paid advertising (PPC). Phil loves Real Ale & Fell Running.

Old Computer? Outlook Express – Email Hell? This will Help

We understand that some people are still using older computers. Sometimes the software goes a bit crazy and you can’t get your emails. So we put together this simple guide for users of older versions of Outlook and Outlook Express. Restore outlook express. Continue reading “Old Computer? Outlook Express – Email Hell? This will Help”

Phil Gregory

Phil is the founder of Peak District SEO. He helps businesses make more money. Using traditional Search engine Optimisation (SEO), Social Media, and paid advertising (PPC). Phil loves Real Ale & Fell Running.