OK, maybe it’s not as easy as all that, but it doesn’t have to be hard.
And, in case you’re new to SEO, rankings, optimisation and search engines, here’s a 90 second video where Rand from Moz explains what you need to know.
Trying to win in the balance game between attracting people to your website through elements attractive to search engines and having a website that looks great to visitors can be hard work. Sometimes it seems that you are fighting a losing battle but it doesn’t need to be the case if you make use of one of the most fundamental aspects of on-page optimisation that will help boost traffic to your site while keeping it looking great. And what is this cornerstone of on-page optimisation – meta tags. Companies like Grapefruit Marketing (a specialist provider of SEO services to London business), know that getting your meta tags right is crucial if you want the search engines to know what your page is about (and therefore what you’d like it to rank for). So what are meta tags, why are they so important, and how do you make sure you get the most benefit from them?
A meta tag is a snippet of text that describes the content of the page without actually appearing on the page itself – it hides in the code that makes up the page. Most people are familiar with tags from either blogging or e-commerce and meta tags are a similar idea. They are the little signposts for search engines telling them what is on the page that are invisible to traffic on the page itself.
As far as basic on-page SEO goes, there are really three meta tags to focus on, some now being more important than others. The meta keyword attribute is a list of keywords that are relevant to the content of the page. The title tag is the text at the top of the browser page and is seen as the ‘title’ of the page by search engines. The meta description is a brief description of the page and the meta robots tell the little bots from search engines that they need to do with the page.
Keywords are of less use today than in times past and while they are still present on some pages, they are little used by the big search engines. Titles, on the other hand, are a vital part of the page, perhaps the most important of the meta tags. This title is the one part visible to the user along the top of their browser page so often contains a single primary title. For this article, it would be Why Good Meta Tags are Crucial and this is what would be in the blue (or other colour) banner along the top of the browser.
The meta description is the other crucial element of the page. Its mission in life is to get the visitor to click the link to the website provided by Google or other search engines. Experts say that a good meta description should be between 130 and 155 characters, though there is no hard and fast rule about this. It should have an active voice and be actionable as well as including a call to action. This might be something like “Our company has over 20 years experience delivering X, and can help you achieve the Y you’re looking for for less than other suppliers. Find out more!”
Each meta description should be a one-off and should both match the content and contain the focus keyword. Google will favour a page where the keyword matches the meta description because the link is more related.
Getting the meta tags right not only ensures that you show up where you should in the search engines but makes for a harmonious experience when users arrive. It means they come expecting something and receive it, meaning they are more engaged and likely to return. No one likes false promises, after all!
If your business has a physical location, whether this is a shop, a warehouse or other type of premises, then you want the internet to show you to customers who are near where you are. One of the ways to do this is to use Google My Business, also known previously as Google+ Local and Google Places. So how does it work?
Whether you know them as Semantic Markup, Schema or Rich Snippets these elements of basic code are one of the things that can work behind the scenes to boost your website and increase its performance on search engine rankings. But what exactly are they and how do they work?
A rich snippet is used to define the content of a website so that a search engine can understand what it is all about. Once it understandings, then it can direct the appropriate traffic to the website and accurately display it in the search engine results pages or SERPs. Without this presence, it is much harder to get people to come to your website because it will be effectively invisible.
But what does it look like? To give an example of a recipe website a rich snippet would include a picture of the dish in question, a star rating of the recipe and a couple of lines intro to the recipe. This allows those busy little search engine bots to know that the website is about food, what type of food and that it is popular with other users of the website.
In fact, there is a range of different types of products and services that need a good rich snippet to get their traffic. These include a place or business, a person, a product, an event, an organisation and a creative work such as art, crafts or fashion.
While the rich snippet of a website doesn’t directly improve website rankings on the search engine, it does increase the clickthrough rate or CTR. This is because more customers or visitors will be drawn to the rich snippet of the site and the increase, according to some studies, could be as much as a 15% increase. Add this up over time and it can amount to a worthwhile increase in traffic.
One of the best examples of a rich snippet that works well is an authorship markup. This allow a person photo to appear alongside the pages you have authored and by your website. This makes the website seem more personal and interesting, rather than a generic, faceless creation.
Another example is a local business schema and a geotag, both types of semantic markup. These are great for local businesses that want to bring traffic to their physical business as well as their websites. Geotagging your location helps the chance of your business appearing in local listing.
Finally, testimonials are a useful snippet and make use of the modern word of mouth. A good review from a real customer will help instil confidence in your service or product and make them more likely to follow your link to the website.
There is no conclusive evidence either way that rich snippets and other markups have an effect on the SEO of a website. But the view from experts is simple – if it might help, make use of it and hopefully the results will be positive.