Web copy basics: title, description and H-tag headings
How to make your content search-engine friendly
The best text is useless if it isn’t found by your readers. Here’s how to optimise your meta tags for a better search ranking.
Your content offers genuine added value. You put a lot of effort into research and think about the best way to answer your personas’ questions. As we all know: This takes time! Time that would be spent in vain if Google wasn’t able to index your content correctly. That’s why a great online text needs to satisfy your readers – and Google as well.
You’re not quite sure how to accomplish that? No worries, we’ve summarised the most important points regarding title tag, meta description and H-tag headings for you:
Optimise your title tag and meta description
A good web copy writer knows how important meta tags are. Informative titles and descriptions are vital for good rankings in the search results – whether that’s on Google, Bing or any other search engine. But keep in mind: While titles directly influence search rankings, descriptions are only of secondary relevance.
Titles and descriptions show up in the search results and inform users about the content of a specific page. It’s what helps them decide whether they want to visit your website or not. Both title and description are limited to a certain number of characters.
Title: max. 75 characters
Description: max. 160 characters
However, keep in mind that what’s ultimately important for Google isn’t your number of characters but the pixels. A “w”, for instance, takes up more space (in pixels) than an “i”. So it’s better to use less characters to make sure that your title and description don’t get cut off in the search results.
Tip: Most out-of-the-box content management systems (Pimcore, WordPress, Typo3, …) have a preview function that shows you what your meta tags are going to look like.
Emojis and special characters in title tags and meta descriptions
In 2015, they were banned from search results – now they are back: emojis in meta tags. The use of emojis in title and description is a matter of personal preference. But they definitely attract people’s attention and make your meta tags stand out from the rest of the search results.
Important: Only use them if they are relevant, funny or helpful. Using them incorrectly or too often can seem unprofessional and make your click-through rate drop rather than boost it. Just don’t overdo it – and make sure they go with your topic and content.
The correct use of keywords in meta tags
Google doesn’t directly take keywords in meta tags into account anymore. They are still relevant for your ranking on search engines like Bing and Yahoo, though. And while they are only one of several ranking factors: It still makes sense to optimise them as part of a general and comprehensive search engine optimisation of your site.
Meta keywords should have a direct relation to the content on your website. Listing a lot of keywords (five to ten) used to be standard practice – now, it’s better to use less. Two to three relevant keywords are more than enough. Your focus keyword should always be among the first few words of your title.
Calls to action (CTAs)
You should complete your meta description with a CTA if you want to attract a lot of visitors to your website and get them to follow through with a certain action. The objective of a “call to action” is to increase the click-through rate and encourage users to – hopefully – subscribe to your newsletter or purchase your product or service right from your website. The CTA should be part of the description and placed closer towards the end of your meta tag. It also needs to match the content of your website.
Why Google doesn’t always show your meta tags
There could be several reasons why Google doesn’t use a well-crafted and optimised meta description. Maybe it isn’t as well written as you thought, or it just isn’t relevant to the search query. Google then selects a suitable excerpt from the text on your website and shows it in the search results instead. The snippet is taken from the content of the page and is usually part of the first third of the text.
Google’s Matt Cutts states, “We use the snippet that’s most appropriate to the specific search query. We don’t always use the meta description. We are just trying to do what’s helpful and useful to the users – hopefully they’ll click through and find your content.”
Applying H-tag headings correctly
How do I write a great SEO heading? The same way as you would a SEO text: not at all. Write your texts and headings for your personas and their needs. A heading that is hard to read and overstuffed with keywords won’t do you or your readers any good. Keep your headings short and easy to understand. This helps your readers grasp the content of your text much quicker.
A good heading structure serves as an important guide for the user and the search engine. The following H-tag headings support you in that:
- H1: should contain the focus keyword of your target page. This could be either the specific category of your web shop, for instance, “wool coat”. Or the key term for the topic of an article, like “Winter hiking in Salzburg”.
- H2: Other relevant or related terms can be found in H2. You can use it to ask the questions that your personas would ask or to include long-tail keywords.
- H3 & H4: are used for structuring the text and serve as (sub-)headings for less important topics