Saturday, February 28, 2015

Top 3 Search-Engine-Results-Page Title & Description Sins

#1. The Over Optimizer

This person hasn't asked themselves "why be a top hit". 

They're too busy trying to get a 1-up on Google by stuffing as many keywords into their title and meta description as possible - far beyond the visible character limit. They don't know that meta tags are in no way a ranking factor and will be unpleasantly surprised when they are hit by one of Google's many deranking algorithms specifically made to counter these sorts of tactics.

I know it's more work, but by focusing search terms through a collection of unique pages, and by building a coherent URL structure, you will always see better results, without the risk & unpleasantness of shady "one size fits all" page titles. 

The golden rule: write for people, not for search engines.

#2. The Awkward Cut-off 
Because Google restricts title lengths by a measure of pixels rather than characters, getting everything to fit before the dreaded "..." truncates your snippet is not an exact science and can be quite the headache.

Playing around with things in a SERP (search engine results page) simulator is really the best approach in this case.

I'm quite fond of this preview tool because it allows you to acquire text from any page URL

Note: When done right, having a cut-off description can actually entice searchers to view your page, but it shouldn't be an accident.

#3. The Missing Meta Tag

When a search is made and a page is listed in result, Google scrapes information from set page in order to formulate a unique description catered to each specific search query. Let that sink in.

This allows for a number of things to happen.

  1. The page is void of any relevant or usable information; Google defaults to the meta description you provided.
  2. The page contains information that is an equal or greater match for the search query entered; Google will use this to make a custom description.
  3. You didn't write a meta tag and your page is just pictures; Google hates you, and you should too.

You can have your Image based splash page, write a meta tag, and still include a handful of alternate service descriptions in the area of your page only visible after scrolling. This way searchers will see a description tailored to their interests every time!

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