Title tag, meta description & URL writing guide
Any SEO or copywriter will know that the shorter the copy, the harder to write.
Trying to get all the relevant information into such few characters is a super skill, but we’ve got some tips to make it easier.
How long should a title tag be?
As of May 2018, your title tag length should be 600 pixels wide. This rule replaced 60 characters as the maximum length before the title becomes truncated. Using pipes instead of dashes can increase your SEO page title length as they take up less width on the screen. If you’re not sure, check it in our tool.
How to write a good title tag
Title tags and SEO go hand in hand, so it’s important to know how to construct them properly. There are a few title tag best practices you should stick to:
- Make it unique
When striving to reach those Google top positions, it’s important to help Google to see that your content is unique and valuable. The title of your page is a great place to start. By this, we don’t mean using synonyms and rewording everything – changing the product or category name is enough to make it unique for ecommerce sites. Make sure every page has a title. You’re very unlikely to rank for a page called ‘New Page’, and it’s even more unlikely that anyone will click on the listing. Including a USP (unique selling point) is also a great idea. Things like ‘Free Delivery’ or ‘80% Success Rate’ work well.
- Don’t stuff keywords
Gone are the days of being able to rank for terms just because you’ve used every keyword in the book. This is very much frowned upon and creates a bad user experience, especially if your title is just variations of the same keyword repeated.
- Put important keywords first
While you shouldn’t stuff your keywords, you also should be mindful of their importance. Let people (and Google) know what your page is about from the beginning of the title. If it’s a product, put this first, and leave your brand name until the end. If you’re writing a title for a blog post, ensure the focus keyword is near the beginning of the title.
- Honour the search intent
You’re probably sick of hearing about it by now, but in case you’re new to SEO, Google is all about the user experience and intent this year with their E-A-T & YMYL updates. Why are people searching for your chosen term? Whether it’s to gain knowledge or make a purchase, your title tag should reflect this. For example, the intent behind the keyword ‘dog coats’ might be to purchase. Therefore, you could use a title tag like:
Dog Coats | Dog Jackets With Free Delivery | Dapper Dogs
However, the term ‘waterproof dog coats’ might bring up resource content. So, your title tag could be:
Best Waterproof Dog Coats For Winter | Dapper Dogs
For a post about waterproof dog coats with shoppable content. This would give the customer the information they need and allow them to go on to purchase should they wish to.
How long should a meta description be?
Meta descriptions should be around 155-160 characters long. While this did increase to around 300 characters in 2017, this year we have seen Google search snippets being truncated at the old range of 155-160 characters. Therefore, we would advise keeping your meta description length to this.
How to write a good meta description
Writing good meta descriptions requires skill and, most importantly, strategy. Here are some meta description best practices to follow:
- Use your primary keyword
Remember the primary keyword from your title? Use it in your meta description, too. Google will highlight this in the search results, making the keyword or phrase bold. This draws the eye and makes users more inclined to click on the post.
- Make it clean & concise
You don’t have many characters, so don’t waffle on. Use active language which is inviting and explains what the page does, has or says in a simple way. Make sure it matches the content on the page or your bounce rate will rocket, and Google won’t be happy with you.
- Use a CTA
A call to action us a given in most meta descriptions. What do you want your audience to do? ‘Browse our range’, ‘Learn how to’ and ‘Get the latest’ are good starting points. Dates can sometimes be good if content for a given search is likely to grow old and irrelevant.
- Mention specifications or USPs
This is where your long tail and related keywords play a role. If you’ve got a listing for ‘dog coats’, mentioning ‘waterproof dog coats’, ‘dog jackets’ and ‘dog coats with hoods’ in the meta description gives the customer a bigger insight into your range. You can also include USPs such as free delivery, sizes from XS to XXL, brands available and anything else that will make you stand out from the next site.
How long should a URL be?
Your URL should be as short as possible and yet descriptive with relevant information or keywords included. According to Search Engine Journal, Google will truncate your URL after 512 pixels. If you aren’t sure what this looks like, check it in the tool.
Shorter URLs are more shareable, easier to digest, more trustworthy and, most importantly, easy to crawl. The key to producing an effective URL is in the structure.
For product and category pages on ecommerce sites, they’ll usually follow a simple structure of:
The same kind of structure exists for lead generation sites, such as ours. For example:
Here, service is the category and SEO is the subcategory. It gets a little trickier once you start getting into brands, filters and product names, but these are the basics.
How to write a good URL
- Keep it simple
Nobody cares about your fancy words here. You need to make it easy for users and Google to see exactly what your webpage is about at a glance. Get rid of conjunctions like ‘and’, ‘the’ and ‘but’ as these are filler words that aren’t necessary. Special characters should also be avoided. Use hyphens to separate words rather than underscores and avoid ampersands, asterisks and numbers where possible.
- Use your keywords
Surprise, surprise. Keywords are important here too. The same rules apply as we’ve mentioned in both the title and meta sections. Always remember – the page needs to be found by users and crawlers. Don’t overload your URL with variations of the same keyword as this will make the site look spammy.
In terms of SEO basics, that’s all you need to know for now. Anything else depends entirely on your site, but if you do have more questions, get in touch and we’ll talk you through it.
Which is most important – title tag, meta description or URL?
Page title tag is the most important of the three, especially in Google’s eyes, as this is what your customer is drawn to when they see your listing, and what Google will crawl to decipher what your page is about. Meta descriptions contribute towards this somewhat, but their relevance and accuracy are more important for click-through rate. The same goes for URLs, although URLs have the added factor of crawlability to consider.
Use our tool above to preview your own titles and meta descriptions. Need more help? Set us a challenge and we’ll get right back to you.