Search engine optimisation is hard. Harder than, for example, just throwing dollars at the problem and paying for a bunch of Facebook or Google ads. But for those who get it right and follow SEO trends, there are big rewards. On the flip side, for those who get it wrong, there are big penalties.
Consider these statistics.
Stats That Matter
According to research conducted by one of the largest web services companies, a staggering 8 out of 10 web browsers never go past ‘page 1’ of the search results they see on Google. That means only 2 out of 10 make it past that point.
All of a sudden, it becomes fairly obvious why being ranked highly on that first page is not just a ‘nice to have’ but a ‘must have’ if you want to be competitive in your niche or local area.
So what are the best ways to do this?
If you went into a Thai restaurant for a meal with your family but were presented with a menu with only two thai dishes then a mixed selection of pub classics and Indian food you might be a little confused, annoyed and / or angry.
So why would it be any different online? Some websites and businesses will try very hard to ‘rank’ on Google for a popular search term by creating a web page or blog post that talks in detail about a particular query. But when a customer clicks on to that website, it might have very little to do with the service they are looking for.
That is an example of bad ‘matching’ between the search query and the end result. Google spends billions trying to get users intent matched to the results that they see. If there is evidence that users are clicking on a page, then quickly leaving because it’s not what they’re actually looking for, chances are that page is going to get penalised.
Title Tags and Meta
To explain the importance of title tags it’s probably best to quote directly from Google:
“Titles are critical to giving users a quick insight into the content of a result and why it’s relevant to their query. It’s often the primary piece of information used to decide which result to click on, so it’s important to use high-quality titles on your web pages.”
The other thing it’s always worth remembering is that most search results will limit how many characters they display. So, you want your title tag to be less than 60 characters. That character count includes spaces and punctuation so use each space well.
Meta tags on the other hand give you a little more to play with. These are the short descriptions that appear under titles in search results to give browsers a better idea of what they might see when they hit the page (if they click the link). If the title is like a book title, then the meta is a little bit like the blurb on the back cover – it’s there to give more information to someone who has already slowed down enough to read it, so it should be short, short and compelling. You want to aim for 160 characters in this field.