One of the easiest and most effective ways you can increase your search engine traffic is by optimizing what’s called the “meta data” or “meta tags” for every page on your website.
But, there’s a right way and a wrong way to optimize your website’s SEO meta tags.
In this article, you’ll learn the best way to optimize your website’s SEO meta tags with the Yoast SEO plugin.
However, even if you don’t use the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin, the same tips and guidelines can help you when optimizing the meta tags of any page on your website.
What is the “meta data” in your website?
Every page on your website has some information “hidden” behind the scenes that tells Google what your web page is about how how it should appear on the search engine results pages.
A lot of businesses have never heard about the “meta data” and therefore just leave it blank or don’t do anything with it.
If that’s the case for your own website, then it means you’re likely missing out on free targeted organic search traffic from Google for every page that has not been optimized.
How important is it to optimize the meta data of your website?
There are many factors that contribute to your website ranking higher on Google.
One of those factors (and also one of the most important ones) is your meta data.
For more information on what else you can do to rank higher on Google read my guide on “How your small business can rank higher on Google.”
Optimizing your meta data will do two things:
- Help you rank higher for keywords related to your website’s content
- Increase the chances someone clicks on your website listing when they see it in the search engine result pages
- Help you use SEO for lead generation
A quick look at your websites SEO meta data
If you’re wondering if your website’s meta data has been optimized yet or not, you can do two things.
First, go to Google and type in site:yourdomain.com (of course, replace “yourdomain.com” with your actual domain)
Then you will see a list of the different pages of your website Google has found.
Your website’s meta data consists of the “Title”, “URL” and “Description” as seen in the screenshot below.
In this example, the SEO title tag would be “Social Media Marketing Agency for Small to Medium Sizes Businesses”
The URL would be https://www.skylinesocial.com
And the SEO meta description would be: “Are you struggling to find and win more customers using social media? Do you want a simple strategic approach to social media that works? Learn how we…”
If on your own website pages you see titles such as “Home”, or descriptions that don’t make sense, then you’ll need to optimize your website’s SEO meta data.
How can you optimize your website’s meta data?
If you use WordPress, the easiest way to optimize your website’s SEO meta data is to install a free plug-in called “SEO Yoast”.
If you use any other web platform, look for somewhere in the settings related to “SEO settings”, “Meta Data” or “Title and Description Tags”.
Most online website platforms and website builds have an option to edit the meta data. If you’re not sure, just reach out to them and ask how to do it.
A step by step guide to optimize your website’s SEO Meta Data
In the following video, I’ll go through how you can optimize the title tag, description tag and website slug URL for (your SEO metadata) for different pages of your website.
You can watch this video to see how to do this step by step:
I’ll be using WordPress and SEO Yoast in the video example – but the same principles will still apply for any online web platform.
Step 1: Optimize the SEO title tag
The title tag is THE most important element of your SEO meta data that will affect your rankings.
Guidelines for writing a good title:
- Include the keywords and keyword phrases you want to rank for
- Make sure the title reads well and doesn’t seem spammy (for example, don’t use keywords in the title to rank if the title doesn’t make sense)
- Make sure the title is not too long. If you use SEO Yoast it will tell you if your title is too long. If it’s too long, you can remove things like your company name.
- Keyword phrases like “How to…”, “What to…”, “Best…”, “[Name of location”, “[blank] vs [blank]”, “Reviews/Ratings…” are popular words that people type in Google that could be related to your content
Step 2: Optimize the URL (or the “Slug”) of your web page
The next step is to optimize the URL. Here are some guidelines for using a good URL:
- Make the URL as short as possible (while still making sense)
- Remove unnecessary “stop” words keywords like “to”, “and”, “is”, “if”, etc.
- Include keywords you want to rank for (but don’t go crazy with this)
- Make sure the URL is clean (so avoid random words, letters or numbers that don’t make sense)
- An example of a BAD URL would be “what-to-track-for-the-best-return-on-investment-roi-in-social-media” because it’s way too long and uses too many unnecessary words. An example of a better URL would be “track-roi-social-media”
Step 3: Optimize the Meta Description of your page
The final step is to write a custom meta description. If you leave this blank, Google will just take some words or sentences from your web page, and use that as the description.
However, when Google does that, there’s a chance the meta description might not make sense and this reduces the chances someone clicks on your listing when they see it in Google.
Think of the meta description like an advert.
You need to write something short, enticing and something that gets them to click on the link.
Here are some guidelines on writing the best description:
- The meta description does NOT affect your rankings. So don’t worry about using lots of keywords you want to rank for in the description. It’s better to write a short and enticing description instead.
- Start your meta description with the phrase someone is likely searching for in Google. For example, if someone is searching for “What to track to get the best ROI on social media?” I would say “Are you wondering what to track to get the best ROI from social media?”.. Then start to answer the question (but don’t answer it completely). So next, I would write “Learn the 4…” and then they have to click on the link to read the rest of the article.
- Try to put yourself in the position of the person searching Google for an answer to their query. If they saw your meta description would it provoke curiosity and make them click on your website? That’s your goal when it comes to writing the meta description.
Here is an example of a meta description I wrote for one of my blogs:
Step 4: Look at the finished result
Once you’ve finished optimizing your SEO meta data, on Google, your listing will look something like this:
If you’re happy with the way it looks, click “save” and your meta data will be instantly updated on your website.
Please note: it may take Google a few days to a few weeks to update the meta data on their end.
How many pages on your website should you optimize the SEO meta tags for?
Every page on your website should have unique SEO optimized meta tags, including a unique SEO title tag and description tag.
Here are a few more tips for optimizing your website’s meta data:
- Make sure every page has unique title and description tags. It’s bad if you use the same title and description on different pages.
- Make sure no page has any title or description tags blank. Something is better than nothing.
- If you have lots of pages on your website (I’m talking about thousands of pages) think about using some kind of script to automatically optimize your website’s meta data. This will be better than doing nothing and leaving everything blank or the same.
- Try doing some research using Google’s predictive search or a keyword research tool to find out what are the best phrases people are typing in for you to rank for
- Optimizing your website’s meta data is no guarantee you will rank for the phrase you’ve optimized your website pages for. This largely depends on the competition you have for that keyword phrase. If you have high amounts of competition then it will be harder to rank by optimizing the meta data on its own. If your competition online is less, then you can rank very quickly and easily just by optimizing the meta data on its own.
So give it a go for yourself and start optimizing your website’s content.
To learn more about how generate leads check out our lead gen online course.
Ashley Davis (or ‘Ash’ for short) is the CEO & Founder of Skyline Social. For over 15 years, he has been helping business owners with lead generation. Ash specializes in helping businesses get high-quality leads, appointments and clients each month in an automated, scalable and profitable way. You can watch his free Masterclass training to learn more.