Freelance SEO Consultant and Content Marketing Specialist

How to write meta titles and descriptions

Tom Crewe imageTom Crewe
May 6, 2022

Meta title and description optimisation has long been a staple of the SEO process, and for good reason too. Meta titles still contribute to keyword rankings and can mean the difference between position 1 and position 2 in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). Meta descriptions on the other hand may have lost their weight as a ranking factor, but their ability to increase CTR (Click Through Rate) makes them another essential area to optimise in order to maximise your SEO efforts.

In this article I will explain what meta titles and descriptions are, how you can check your current meta titles and descriptions and how you should research for and write new meta titles and descriptions in order to maximise your visibility in the SERPs.

What are meta titles and descriptions?

Meta titles (also known as page titles, title tags etc.) are snippets of HTML that indicate the title of the web page. Meta descriptions are snippets of HTML that give a brief description of what the web page is about. It’s as simple as that! In the world of SEO, they are most famously used to display the title and description of your web page in Google’s (or other Search Engines) search results, as shown below:

How to write meta titles and descriptions

How to check your meta titles and descriptions

Before you consider writing your own meta title and descriptions, it’s a good idea to check what your current meta titles and descriptions say (you never know, they might be perfect already!). There are a few ways to go about this:

  1. To quickly check the meta title and description of a single web page, visit that web page, right click and scroll down to ‘View page source’. Next, hold down the ‘CTRL’ and ‘F’ keys, which will bring up a search box. You can then search <title> to find your meta title and <meta name=”description” to find your meta description. They will look something like this:

<title>Freelance SEO Consultant | Tom Crewe SEO</title>

<meta name=”description” content=”I am an ex-agency Head of SEO based in the UK with over 7 years of experience and a strong track record of achieving fantastic results for my clients.”/>

  1. To check meta titles and descriptions across all pages on your site, you can use a web crawler such as Screaming Frog (which allows you to crawl up to 500 pages for free). Crawl your website using Screaming Frog and then check the ‘Title 1’ column to check meta titles and ‘Meta description 1’ column to check meta descriptions alongside each URL.

Be aware that Google will often rewrite meta titles and descriptions in the SERPs, so don’t be disheartened if the title or description you specified doesn’t appear when searching. 

How to write a meta title

Meta titles are one of the most important places to use the keyword you want the page to rank for. Time and time again I have seen simple meta title changes result in almost instantaneous ranking increases, so there’s a reason why SEO’s are often talking about them.

There isn’t really a ‘one size fits all’ approach to writing a meta title, as objectives, brand guidelines and other factors may be at play, but as a rule of thumb I try to stick to the following structure:

[Primary Keyword] | [Secondary Keyword] | [Brand Name]

For example, the meta title of a service page about SEO audits might look like this:

SEO Audit Service | Technical SEO Audit | Tom Crewe SEO

Ideally, the meta title needs to be 65 characters or less so that it doesn’t become truncated in the SERPs. If that means sacrificing the brand name in the meta title in order to include the primary and secondary keyword, I would personally recommend making that sacrifice and ensuring it is included at the start of the meta description instead.

But how do you decide which keywords to use? Personally, I use Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool to conduct keyword research. Start by just typing in the main topic that your page is about, then look at the keywords listed. I also use Google Search Console to look at current/past performance of keywords to weigh up whether they are the best choice for the page or not. There are a few factors I look for when choosing which keywords to optimise a page for:

Once all of this has been considered and you have chosen keywords that are relevant, have search volume, potentially have some positive looking past performance and current rankings and aren’t overly competitive, you are ready to write your meta title!

How to write a meta description

The meta description is your place to try and encourage a higher CTR. Your meta description should be 165 characters or less and there is no harm in using a templated structure across similar pages, switching out the targeted keywords or USPs (Unique Selling Points) throughout and finishing with a CTA (Call To Action). 

Your meta descriptions should ideally include all of the following:

See an example structure of a good meta description structure for an ecommerce store below:

Buy [Primary keyword] online with [Brand name]. High quality [Secondary keyword] with [USP]. [CTA].

For example, the meta description of an ecommerce page selling blue armchairs might look like this:

Buy blue armchairs online with Tom’s Furniture Store. High quality blue reclining armchairs with free next day delivery. Browse the full range now.

For a service based website, going back to the SEO audits example, the meta description might look more like this:

SEO audit service from Tom Crewe, a highly experienced organic search specialist. Contact Tom to get a keyword audit, technical SEO audit or backlink audit today.

You can play with the structure until it looks right, but the important thing is to include your keywords, USPs and a call to action.

The impact of optimised meta titles and descriptions

With all of this in mind, you are now ready to write your own meta titles and descriptions. It’s amazing what a dramatic impact proper optimisation of these meta tags can have. As previously mentioned, I have seen proper meta title and description optimisation make a real difference to many websites. The example below shows the increase in Clicks for an ecommerce store I work on since uploading optimised meta titles and descriptions.

For this particular ecommerce store, the increase in visibility contributed to a 48% YoY increase in organic revenue too. If that doesn’t convince you to optimise your meta data appropriately, nothing will!

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This article was written by

Tom Crewe

Tom Crewe is a Freelance SEO Consultant with 10 years’ worth of experience in Search Engine Optimisation and Content Marketing. His genuine passion for SEO is clearly demonstrated in his client work, the articles he writes for industry leading publications such as Search Engine Land, the talks he delivers at events such as Brighton SEO and his eagerness to learn more each and every day.

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