Search Engine Optimization for 2018 – Meta Data Update
In December 2017, Google updated the number of characters (and spaces) in the meta description (an important piece of onsite search engine optimization) from 140 to 320. The meta description is the paragraph of copy you see when making a Google or Bing search. It should describe what that page is about. While there has been some debate on whether the keyword phrases in the description help the website actually rank, we do know that it help to get the viewer to click on your website. Once filled with keywords, the meta description can now be well crafted sentences with a call to action and even a phone number. But the meta description must accurately describe what the page is about. If your website copy is about marketing in Jacksonville but the meta description is about website design in Jacksonville, Google may choose not to show your meta description. Google may actually show the first paragraph of copy of the website on the search page. Also, Google may choose not to show your page title either.
With this in mind, we must craft our meta data carefully.
The page title which is approximately 50-75 characters and spaces is still very important. The first words of the page title, being even more important. If your business is regionally based, make sure you include city or state names. I actually prefer to have the keyword phrase together. For example: “sports medicine doctor Jacksonville FL“. I have polled a lot of people. Most put the city name in the search, and most put the city name at the end of the phrase.
Google actually shows 60 pixels. Yes you heard that right. So, if you are using a page title full of capital letters, especially wide ones, even fewer characters will be shown. If you use more characters and spaces, then google only shows ellipses at the end.
Remember each page has its own unique page title and meta description, that works in conjunction with the copy on that page.
Use keyword phrases in your pages title, not just keywords. For example: swimming pool costs Jacksonville FL
Make sure you do not repeat the same meta data on multiple pages
Keep your h1 headers short and include keyword phrases. Only one h1 header per page. (this is the main headline of the page) You can also have h2 and h3 headers (subheads) with good keywords.
A good example would be:
Orthopedic Doctor, JOI Jacksonville, Dr. Stephen Lucie, sports medicine, Jacksonville FL
Dr. Stephen Lucie is an orthopedic doctor specializing in sports medicine at Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute. Dr. Lucie has been an orthopedic surgeon in Jacksonville, FL for 35 years.
R. Stephen Lucie, M.D. Orthopedic Doctor at Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute
Google no longer finds the keywords useful.
This is what you see in a Google search:
Some professionals would argue that the page tile should include the name of the business. I would argue that if the name of the business is the URL (domain name), I would argue that it is not needed; and that it is actually taking up valuable real estate. If you feel compelled to use it, add it at the end.
But in my industry, we don’t always agree. SEO professionals do their own testing. And we test often. What used to work, may not work anymore.
Some people say Google will penalize you if your title is too long. I do not see this to be true. Now, Google will certainly not show it all and instead just show ellipses…
Did you know you can see your competitors’ meta data? You can view the source code of the page and see it there. You can also install MOZbar from MOZ on your Chrome browser. It will identify the page title, meta description and H1 header from each page
To download your MOZbar here:
If you prefer a professional to do this for you, call Fisher Design 904-398-3699, firstname.lastname@example.org