Writing meta data is easy once you become familiar with the concept and the rules. The concept is that you’re trying to gain the attention of the search engines. Meta data is very important for SEO purposes. The rules for writing meta data are simple. Keep them short, sweet and keyword packed to bring more website visitors your way. If you want to become a meta data master, here are the rules better explained.
The Types of Meta Data to be Concerned With
There are three primary meta ‘tags’ that you will want to familiarize yourself with as you begin optimizing your website for search engines like Google and Bing. There is the title tag, which represents the title of the page or media file you’re optimizing, there is the description tag, which is the description of the page or file, and then there is the alt tag.
If you use a search engine, then you’ve seen title and description tags in action. When you conduct a search on Google, for instance, the listings you see are comprised of those very titles and descriptions. Keep this in mind when writing your own meta tags. You’ll want to make sure that your tags describe what your web page is about, and explain it properly so that potential visitors are enticed to click through.
Of course not all title and description tags are associated with web pages. Media files can also be optimized with meta data, and you are encouraged to do so if you want to expand your marketing reach.
The alt tag is a bit different. Also known as alt text, these are the words or phrases that show up when you hover your cursor over a media file or link. For those browsers that block images and other media, your alt tags will show instead of the image, photo or video.
Now that you know what each tag is, let’s start writing meta data that will succeed in bringing more website visitors your way.
Writing Title Tags
The rule for title tags is to keep them under 60 characters. To help you adhere to the proper character count, look up a free character counter online and use it to keep your tags at the correct lengths. A character counter is a copy and paste device that shows you instantly how many characters are in the sentences you write. This can help immensely as you write meta data. Incidentally, WordPress will tell you how long your tags are as you input them into your site, which is also helpful.
Include your keywords and use the pipe character (|) to keep your titles neat and organized. For instance, a company that sells pontoon boats called Love’s Crafts, might have a title tag for their home page that looks like this:
Pontoon Boats | Love’s Crafts, Inc.
According to the character counter, the above title tag is 35 characters long. That means that you have room to add even more SEO goodness. If the company above also sells pontoon boat accessories, add it to the title tag to let the search engines and your customers know that fact. For example, the tag might now read:
Pontoon Boats & Accessories | Love’s Crafts, Inc.
Or you might want to optimize your site for local SEO, which means you might want to use a geographic modifier in the tag, like so:
Pontoon Boats | Love’s Crafts, Inc. | St. Paul, MN
As long as you adhere to the 60 character rule and you include all the keywords you wish to optimize for, your pages should rank where you want them to.
The Art of Writing Description Tags
The rules for writing description tags are a bit different. Whereas your title tags should be short, concise and keyword packed, description tag writing is a bit more lax. You are encouraged to write in complete sentences. Just make sure that they remain under 140 characters (about the size of a standard tweet).
For media files, simply describe the file. You can also use the description tag to give attribution to the owner of the file. For example, the description of an image file of a pontoon boat on your site might read:
This pontoon boat was sold last year to Mr. and Mrs. Faye Huddleson. Image used courtesy of Boat Lover’s Media.
If your description tag is for a web page, don’t be afraid to use enticing language and a call-to-action. After all, your website’s visitors will probably see your description as part of a search engine results listing. So use the space available to entice the click, like so:
For pontoon boats and pontoon boat accessories in St. Paul MN, your first and only choice should be Love’s Crafts. Visit and shop today!
Or you can take it a step further and include a phone number with a CTA right in the description, such as:
For pontoon boats and pontoon boat accessories in St. Paul MN, call Love’s Crafts at [Insert Phone Number] today!
That way your visitors can call from the search results page without ever having to click-through to your site.
How to Write Alt Tags
Since Alt Tags will show when someone hovers over your media file or link (or in place of media files), make your alt tags descriptive while also using keywords, if applicable. It’s far better to be descriptive for those people using non-HTML capable browsers. You also get 125 characters, so feel free to add whatever you think is best for the end user.
For example, an image of a pontoon boat winch might simply read, “Pontoon Boat Winch”.
Of course, you could take it a step further and add, “Pontoon Boat Winch, St. Paul MN”, to give your alt tag even more local SEO juice.
And that’s all there is to writing meta data for websites. Make them unique for each page and media file and add them wherever you can to get more attention from the search engines and new website visitors alike.