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A beginner’s guide to writing metadata

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Metadata is data about data. Exciting – I know. In this post, we’re talking about meta data in relation to SEO; something which is invisible to the average user, but central to developing a successful website.

The most important forms of meta data for SEO are meta title, meta description and meta keywords. Most of these are used by search engines to understand the meaning of webpages and determine their relevance for specific search queries.

Meta Title

What is it? The main piece of text used to describe a page’s content. With real impact on SEO, it should be user friendly due to its visibility to searchers.

Where does it appear? In your browser, search engine results pages and external page links.

Ideal length: Aim for 60-65 characters.

How to write a page title: Consider where it will be shown – your page title should compel viewers in all circumstances. Ensure it is unique, accurate, concise and is relevant to the keywords of the specific webpage. You should write naturally to allow easy-reading for your potential visitors, keep within character limits and avoid keyword stuffing (using multiple keyword variations which can result in penalties from Google).

It is not recommended to include your brand’s name in the title tag as if the people searching for your products/services are not yet familiar with your brand, they won’t be using your company name in their search and the space could be better optimized using other keywords.

If you did want to include your brand name, you could do so on pages that are not searched as often, such as your “About Us”, “Contact” pages or your legal documents such as your “Terms and Conditions”.

Meta Description

What is it? This provides a brief description of the content on a webpage.

Where does it appear? Search engine results and external page links.

Ideal length: 11-150 characters.

How to write a meta description: This needs to provide an explanation of the webpage’s content and encourage searchers to click through. You should implement carefully researched keywords and create a description that will make a searcher want to click, ensuring that what’s written, relates to the content found on the page. Every webpage should have its own, unique description for maximum SEO benefit. We also recommend that you try to stay within the maximum 150 characters to avoid truncation.

You can monitor click through rates in Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools), and can then optimize certain pages based on results. You should always ensure your webpage has a relevant meta description; if it’s missing, Google may try and find what it thinks is a relevant piece of information as an alternative, which may not be as effective and could negatively impact your click-through rate.

Meta Keywords

What are these? These are self-explanatory – words that are relevant to the topic in question, usually separated by commas or spaces. They no longer impact Google search rankings,, but are still relevant to other search engines.

Where do they appear? Only in the webpage’s source code.

Ideal length: There is no set amount for keywords, just ensure that you avoid “keyword stuffing”.

How to write a meta keywords: You should ensure that all key words used are accurate and relevant to the content you are describing. Conduct some brainstorming based on your webpage and write down all the words/phrases that you associate with this particular page. It can sometimes be useful to ask someone outside of the field of expertise what they would search for, to eliminate the use of any ‘jargon’ and highlight those you maybe hadn’t thought of. For example, MA Design are a Cheltenham Based Web Designer. When thinking of their keywords, they may write down terms such as “web design”, “digital marketing” or “graphic design”. A hairdressing business, interested in improving their website, may search “website improvement” or “website builder” – this is a way of finding out key words from the people who may actually be using them.

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