We are often asked for advice by clients about how to effectively complete the Titles and Descriptions fields for web pages. These fields can be found at the bottom of the admin pages for each page on our content managed websites (or in the <head> area of an HTML page).
When it comes to optimising titles and descriptions for web pages, it comes down to following Google’s SEO best practice guidelines. They have written a document to cover this which is available here:
There is also an excellent ‘beginners guide’ at Moz.com (click on chapter 4 that covers titles and descriptions):
- Beginners Guide to SEO (by Moz)
- Title Tags: http://moz.com/learn/seo/title-tag
- Description Tags: http://moz.com/learn/seo/meta-description
Before deciding on a keyword to focus on (you should have one unique keyword or phrase per page), you need to be confident that people are actually searching for it. You can do a certain amount of keyword research by using the Google Keyword Planner, which gives you an idea of what has been searched for in the previous month:
- Google Keyword Planner
- Keyword research: http://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo/keyword-research
Some of the salient points about keyword usage are as follows:
On-Page Optimization (source: Moz.com)
We can leverage some effective “best practices” for keyword usage to help create pages that are close to “optimised.” This is the process recommended for keyword usage and placement:
- Use the keyword in the title tag at least once. Try to keep the keyword as close to the beginning of the title tag as possible. More detail on title tags follows later in this section.
- Once prominently near the top of the page.
- At least 2-3 times, including variations, in the body copy on the page – sometimes a few more if there’s a lot of text content. You may find additional value in using the keyword or variations more than this, but in our experience, adding more instances of a term or phrase tends to have little to no impact on rankings.
- At least once in the alt attribute of an image on the page. This not only helps with web search, but also image search, which can occasionally bring valuable traffic.
- Once in the URL. Additional rules for URLs and keywords are discussed later on in this section.
- At least once in the meta description tag. Note that the meta description tag does NOT get used by the engines for rankings, but rather helps to attract clicks by searchers from the results page, as it is the “snippet” of text used by the search engines.
- Generally not in link anchor text on the page itself that points to other pages on your site or different domains.
Think of the User First
The single most important thing to remember about SEO best practice is that you should always think of the USER first and search engine second. Ultimately, a web page is only useful if a HUMAN BEING finds it of use or interest. Get this right and the search engines will follow. Hopefully.