How To Craft the Perfect Meta Tags

Posted by Mark Thompson - May 18, 2010 - SEO - 35 Comments

I know it may seem very basic when creating Title and Meta tags for your website, but it can be a much more involved process if you are looking to go from good to great.  Many clients are under the impression that as long as they have their keywords in the title and meta tags that they will start to rank well.  That is true to some extent, however they are forgetting one little thing…the end-user is ultimately the one who decides if they should click on your link.

Creating a Title Tag

Before we get started, there are some best practices to keep in mind when creating your title tags.

  1. Try to put your main keywords/phrases towards the front of your title tag.  Search engines (especially Google) will place more emphasis on the beginning of the tag.
  2. Depending on your current brand and position in the market, you will want to put your brand name at the beginning or the end of the title tag.  If you have a well known brand like Nike or Apple, it is best to craft a tag that is more for branding than for search engines.  The reason is that you probably have a lot of domain authority and tons of inbound links, so you don’t have to mess up your tag with lots of keywords.  If your brand is not as well known, putting your brand name at the end of the tag will help in starting to build that brand.
  3. Keep the title tag short, don’t stuff it will tons of keywords just to try and optimize for every term you want to rank for.  I personally try to rank for no more than 2-3 keywords per page (actually most of the time 1 main term per page).

Good Example:

“Golf Company XYZ | Golf Clubs, Nike Golf Clubs, Nike Drivers and Irons”

Great Example:

“Buy Nike Golf Clubs | Nike Drivers & Irons For Sale | Golf Company XYZ”

So why is the great example better than the good example?  In the good example, you miss full potential because the golf company brand is at the beginning of the title tag.  The keywords also looked a little stuffed and is not very easy to read for the end user.

In the great example we have the words “Buy” and “For Sale” in the title tag, which will help to cater to people looking to buy!  Obviously someone who searches to buy Nike golf clubs, is ready to purchase and has their credit card in hand.  So we are able to move the keywords to the beginning of the title tag and cater to ready-to-buy consumers.  Using the Pipe symbol also helps to break-up the tag and make it easier to read for the end user.

Creating a Meta Description Tag

Before we get started, there are some best practices to keep in mind when creating your meta description tags.

  1. Use your description tag to sell the user to come to your page.  Explain what that page is about, some selling points and even a special offer that will entice the user to click on your link.
  2. Utilize different variations of the primary terms you are looking to rank for.  For example, if you used the word “Nike Golf Club” in your title tag, you may want to change that phrase to “Golf Clubs by Nike” in your meta description tag.
  3. Keep it focused to what the page is talking about, not necessarily what the entire website does.

Good Example:

Nike golf clubs, Nike drivers, Nike irons, and Nike golf balls. Golf Company XYZ offers superior selection of Nike Golf equipment, great service, and quality products.”

Great Example:

“Largest selection of Nike golf club sets, drivers, irons, and Nike golf balls at discount prices.  Get Free Shipping on orders of $50 or more, read product reviews, and the guaranteed lowest prices!”

In the good example the term “Nike” is overused and really does not have any type of call to action of incentive for the end-user to click on their site.  In the great example it incorporates different variations of the main terms they want to rank for, while promoting their free shipping offer, product reviews for users to find the best clubs to buy and promote that they offer the guaranteed lowest prices.

About the Author

Mark Thompson

Mark is the creator of StayOnSearch and president of Search Creatively, a full-service Internet Marketing Company located in Raleigh, North Carolina. He also contributes to many industry related blogs including Search Engine Journal and is active on Facebook and Twitter. Follow Mark on Twitter