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How To Do SEO – Title Tags and Meta Descriptions [Updated 2021]

In this second part of our How To Do SEO series, we would like to highlight the importance of title tags and meta descriptions when you perform search engine optimisation on your website. This is the most basic SEO that you can do by yourself and all you need is a good selection of keywords which best describe your business or product that you wish to sell to the public.

OptimiSing Title Tag

What is title tag?

Title tag is the anchor to your website on Google search engine. It is also shown on the browser tab and appears when the cursor is placed on your website’s tab.

Melbourne Small Business SEO & Digital Marketing Specialists Title tag for Proud Cactus

Why is title tag important?

It is your website’s identity and it is the first statement that searchers see when your website appears on Google search. The choice of keywords will determine when your website is shown as a result of a search and what is shown to the searcher, which is very important in driving more clicks to your website.

Should you put keywords in title tag?

Yes, especially if you do not have brand presence in the market yet and you want to attract clicks on your specific product or service. Google will determine what to put as your title tag to make it more relevant to your searchers. As an example, we have used the title tags Melbourne Small Business SEO and Digital Marketing Specialists. When we search for brand name “Proud Cactus”, our business name appeared but not our title tags.Google Search Result for Proud Cactus 

When we search for Melbourne Small Business SEO, our title tag is shown but not our business name as our title tag satisfies the intend of the search.Search term 'Melbourne Small Business SEO' on Google

We’d recommend keeping the titles under 60 characters long to avoid Google from cutting off your title. Having said that, there are cases whereby Google cuts off the title even at 50 characters long. We searched for ‘Migaloo the White Whale’ and two similar title tags appear for two different websites but they are truncated differently simply because one uses the capital ‘E’ and another does not. 

Search Result for Migaloo the white whale

So the rule is simple, just K.I.S.S – Keep It Short and Simple, you do not need to maximise your title tag keywords to attract users, in fact, it will look overcrowded and will not work in your favor, or worst, Google may rewrite your title tag if it does not suit the searcher’s intent.

How can you prevent search engine from rewriting your title tags?

Use important keywords only and think of how you can showcase your business in as little words as possible. This is when keyword research is useful – by finding out the keywords that are commonly searched for in relation to your business. You can use these Google Tools and they are absolutely FREE. Check out Google Keyword Planner and you do need Google account to access this. You can follow this step-by-step guide by Moz or on using Google Keyword Planner without setting up a campaign. Or you can look at some recommended hacks by SEMRush on using Google Keyword Planner. Google Trend is also a useful free tool by google to find out the trending keyword searches. It is set to US by default but you can refine by your country of interest or worldwide.


What is meta description?

Meta description is a short snippet of about 160 characters that is shown under your title tag. When users search for certain keywords, the searched element will be highlighted on the description, making it imperative to use a well-written meta description that will make your website stand out from the rest.

As you can see below, Proud Cactus website is shown when we search for affordable small business SEO in Melbourne. The searched keywords are highlighted as a way to engage the searchers to click on our website.

Affordable SEO - Proud Cactus

Will meta description help with your google ranking?

According to Google Webmaster blog – it’s a no. BUT it helps with your click through rate (CTR) and CTR is one of the few factors that google considers to help in ranking websites, so it WILL affect your ranking indirectly, much like a well-designed website. Let us show you why and how you can introduce robust keywords in your meta description.

What keywords should I use for my website’s meta description?

Try to write your description as natural as possible to make it appealing to wide-array of searchers. It is important to do keyword research as we have pointed out earlier – you can use Google Keyword Planner or Google Trend but here’s something else that you can do if you do not have the time to use these tools.

Do a survey, ask your new customers what did they search for before landing on your website. For customers who are familiar with your brand, ask them what is the first thing that come in their mind when they think of your brand. Do a brain-storming session internally and get your employees to give their feedback on your brand. SWOT analysis or strength/weakness analysis will be a great way to kickstart the discussion.

Also, add unique meta descriptions for all your pages to avoid having the same descriptions on all your pages. You need to think of your description as an advertisement space for your website – a free one that is!

Same meta descriptions for different pages

How do I add a meta description to my website?

There are multiple ways to do this. If you head over to Proud Cactus homepage, view the webpage source, you will see our homepage title tag and meta description as follow:

HTML Code on Proud Cactus homepage which shows meta description

You can insert the code manually on the in the header segment (between ) of your website by using the sample code below:

<meta name=”description” content=”Insert your meta description here“>

If you are using WordPress, there are two methods of including meta description:

1. Install Yoast SEO plugin. There are plenty of SEO plugins available in wordpress but this is the best plugin for this exercise. The free version of this plugin will suffice in adding title tags and meta description, plus, it creates a sitemap automatically for your website – it’s a win for all.

Once you’ve installed and activated the plugin, go to page editor. You can see the Yoast extension at the bottom of the page. Click on “edit snippets” and you can insert your title or descriptions for that particular page. Easy!

2. Install header and footer injection plugin, and insert the codes on the header body, however, you can only insert on either the homepage or on all pages which is not ideal.

If your website is fully customised, it is best to contact your web developer to add the codes on every page.

If you are using website builder such as Wix or Squarespace, the title tags and meta descriptions are presented differently. As an example, in Squarespace, you will find these under Pages > Edit > Look for the settings (gear) button on the top right of the page, then SEO. 

Squarespace SEO

PS : Although Squarespace recommends 50 to 300 characters for your meta description, do keep it to a maximum of 160 characters only!

Key Takeaways (Or in other words TL;DR)

Review your title tag and meta description for your pages as these are the main anchors to your website on Google search. Add popular keywords related to your business or product but do not overstuff or over populate those little snippets.

Remember that Google will help to highlight key items but it is up to the searchers to click on your website and eventually convert to high sales or goal conversion. Keep in short and simple, silly!

Got Questions on Title Tags and Meta Descriptions?