A business owner that builds a website has taken strides toward pulling ahead of the competition, but still has a long race ahead. However, a business owner who knows how to optimize a website for higher traffic and more referrals is sure to be leading the pack. In other words, it’s good to have a website; it’s essential that you know how to use it.

What are Meta Tags?

A meta tag is a phrase or keyword used within the “back end” of your website that helps search engines to determine the subject matter of a web page.  The most important meta tags are meta titles and meta descriptions.

What is a Meta Title Tag?

A meta title is a title you give a page on your website that is visible only to the search engine robots. It may be slightly different from the page title that is visible to your website visitors. Whenever possible, you want to insert your target keywords into your meta title.

What is a Meta Description Tag?

A meta description provides a concise description of the contents of a particular web page. This description will be used on search engine results pages to inform readers about the contents of the page. Basically, it’s a preview of your page.

Will a good meta tags ensure higher traffic to my website?

There are many different factors that influence your web traffic, and meta tags are simply one cog in the overall machine. While a meta description is less important in terms of search engine rankings, it can be very important in gaining click-throughs from search result pages. Since the purpose of the meta tag is to provide viewers with a preview of your page’s content, this is your opportunity to entice them to click through to your website.

Meta titles, however, can be VERY instrumental in driving traffic and achieving desired search engine rankings as search engines look at meta titles in an effort to determine the content of any given web page.

So how do I write a good meta description?

This is the challenging part. In a very limited space, you need to convince the audience that your web page will provide the information they need. Essentially, you should remember three things when writing your meta tags:

You’re limited to 160 characters. This means every word counts! You don’t want to go over 160 characters, because your paragraph will be cut off in the search page results. Your description should express a full and complete thought in only one or two sentences.

Make it relevant. Imagine what your audience might be looking for when they encounter your page in search results. Your description should let them know that the information they seek is just one click away. Including key words is a good idea, too, because Google and some other search engines bold the keywords in search results.

Include a call to action. Subliminally, this tells your audience what to do, rather than leaving it up to chance that they will do it. Avoid weak descriptions like,“this page is about changes coming to Social Security”. Instead, motivate your audience to act with a statement like, “Learn about impending changes to Social Security, and how they might affect you”.

Is there anything else I should know?

Actually, yes, and this one is very important: Many social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn use a page’s meta title and description when displaying the link to your content. Therefore, your meta tags will help social media users decide whether your content looks compelling enough to warrant a click through to read it. When your content is shared across social media, the meta tags are a critital factor in the amount of views you garner, and will contribute to the overall success of your social media marketing strategy.