Meta tags – the shop window of the digital shopping street
Meta tags are part of a website’s HTML code. Its main job is to provide information about the website to search engine crawlers. This can be influenced automatically or manually by defining the title tag and description in the code.
Search engines use these to display search results (snippets) by displaying the information in the headline and the short description text. If the meta tags are not actively determined, the crawlers look for the content for the search result display from the website content. Usually the first sentence of the website is used as the description.
The search results page as a digital shopping street
The correct use of meta tags is an integral part of any SEO consultation. They are the “low-hanging fruits” – measures that are implemented quickly and can have a positive effect on the ranking. The standard tips: Pay attention to the length of title and description and place relevant keywords. This is absolutely sensible and important for the start, but unfortunately this procedure often means that meta tags are only adapted at the beginning of a search engine optimization and are not continuously developed. In addition to improving the ranking, an important function is often neglected: Meta tags are intended to encourage people to click on the snippet!
In order to clarify the relevance of this data, it helps to compare the snippets with shop windows in a shopping street. Storefronts give a glimpse of what a store looks like from the inside and are designed to convince customers to step in. That is why they are individually and strikingly designed, show top sellers or lure with low prices.
Dealers regularly adapt the design and goods to external conditions such as the seasons. Online, the search results page is the digital shopping street where retailers try to convince the customer to visit their shop or website. Snippets take over the function of the shop window and decide whether a potential customer dares to step into the shop or not.
The following steps will show you how to tidy up your shop window and convince potential customers of your website.
This is how you recognize potential and look after your shop windows
1. Recognize potential
To identify unused potential, you can look at the performance data of your pages from the Google Search Console . One of the most important indicators of the quality of the meta tags is the CTR (click-through rate). By calculating the ratio between search engine impressions and clicks, it shows how often users who see the snippet in their search results also click on the snippet. Pages that have a lot of impressions but few clicks have a low CTR. They are the shop windows that people walk past on the digital shopping street. Thanks to their good location, they have a lot of potential.
2. What are potential visitors looking for?
If you have identified pages with great potential, you can display the search queries for which the page appears in the search results. Checks for which the page snippet generates a particularly large number of impressions and at the same time few clicks. Based on the keywords you can draw conclusions about the expectations and motivations of the users: What is the user interested in? What answers does he need? Which content will help him further?
3. The redecorating
You know which shops are well located and what users are looking for in the shopping street. Now it’s time to optimize. Take a look at your shop window by entering the page according to the following example in the Google search: “site: example.org/seite/unterseite.html”. With this function you can check what your shower window looks like. The following questions will help you tailor the content to the customers in order to convince them to visit your website:
- Does the description promise the user to provide an answer to his search query?
- Is the snippet nicely designed?
- Does the snippet reflect what can be found on the page so that users don’t lose it when they visit?
- Is it adapted to current conditions?
- Is it different from other search results?
- Does it contain relevant keywords?
- Does the text comply with the formalities?
Google is very inconsistent when it comes to displaying snippets and keeps changing the specifications for the number of characters. So be sure to research the current regulations. Currently, titles are displayed up to around 70 characters (or 465 pixels – technically, snippets are limited by pixel width) and descriptions up to around 160 characters. (Source: Sistrix, 4.2.2019). Try to push the character limit as much as possible so that your snippets take up more space in the search results and your shop window becomes larger.
Once you have identified relevant keywords, there are two ways to write new titles and descriptions.
If you just want to optimize snippets in a targeted manner, the easiest option is to use snippet generators. The advantage of generators is that current length specifications are already taken into account. You can also see a preview of what the new snippet will look like. The Sistrix snippet generator, for example, is suitable here .
If you write several new titles and descriptions at the same time, it is helpful to work with an Excel table.
To determine the number of characters in a cell, you have to use the formula = LENGTH (CELL). An Excel table has the advantage that the csv. File generated from it can be transferred to the respective page via import. There are a number of plugins and extensions for different CMS .
First the duty, then the freestyle
To get the absolute maximum out of your snippets and to make the shop window as efficient as possible, there are rich snippets. In addition to user-centered title tags and descriptions, they offer you the option of displaying other specific added values directly in the search. Popular rich snippets are, for example, ratings that work with stars or products that are displayed with price information. Rich snippets are implemented using Schema.org markup. The crawler is able to read this markup and can then display it directly in the search results. You can find an overview of all rich snippets on Google’s developer page . In addition, further explanations of how these are integrated.
There is a lot of untapped potential in the area of meta tags that can be used with a relatively manageable amount of work. In addition to improving the CTR, optimization can also lead to an improvement in the rankings. So you can generate more organic traffic in the long term. It is particularly important that you regularly check and evaluate the data and plan appropriate measures. If you have content on your site that is suitable for the use of rich snippets, you should definitely use it. In any case: don’t let the optimization of meta tags be a one-off thing.