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How to Write Effective SEO Titles and META Descriptions

A writing penBack in this article I described the difference between SEO titles and page titles. Today let’s take a closer look at the relationship between the SEO title and the META description.

Both of these elements perform dual functions: they tell the search engines what your page is about and they entice searchers to click through to your page – or, at least, they should!

Search engines and search results

Let’s look at the search engines and search results angle first.

The SEO title is what appears as the blue link in the search results listing.

The search engines use the SEO title tag as an important indicator of the page’s content, and pages with SEO titles that match, or closely match, the search term that was typed will generally appear higher in the results listing.

The META description is what appears as the text below the blue link in the search results.

Originally, what you inserted as the META description appeared consistently in the search results listing, irrespective of the search term. However, over the last couple of years Google, in particular, has begun replacing the META description you create with an excerpt of the content on the page, if that excerpt more closely matches the search term.

That should not stop you from creating a powerful META description, though!

A properly constructed page must contain both an SEO title and a META description and both must accurately reflect the content of your page.

In the article I linked to earlier I talked about how your SEO title should be developed by researching the terms people have used when searching for the information your page contains.

This is important – if your SEO title reflects back to searchers the terms they typed in they are more likely to visit your page. So let’s look a bit more closely at the most effective way to structure your title and description.

Enticing searchers to click through to your page

The second function of the SEO title and META description is to entice searchers to click through to your page – and to do this it needs to act like a classified advertisement.

Advertisers have long used a formula to create effective ads – it’s called the AIDA formula:

A ttention
I nterest
D esire
A ction

Under this formula, any ad must capture the prospect’s attention, generate some interest, create a desire and cause them to take action.

Given that the SEO title and META description need to act like a classified ad, we can apply the same formula to creating these.

Essentially, the SEO title must capture attention and the META description must generate interest, create a desire and cause the searcher to take action (click through to your page).

Here’s an example from one of the pages on this site:

SEO Title:

WordPress Training and Problem-Fixing Services (Attention - captures it in two ways: people who are searching for WordPress Training and people who are search for WordPress Problem Fixing)

META description:

WordPress training (hosted and self-hosted) (Interest) and WordPress site reviews to identify and fix performance and other problems (Desire). Details here. (Action)

While I have no doubt a professional copywriter would come up with much better wording, that does, at least, illustrate the structure!

Summary

So to sum up: the SEO title and META description fields, which you will find below the window in which you write your post (or page), are both important fields to complete before you publish your new article.

It goes without saying that they must accurately reflect the content of your page but, if they do so, and follow the structure I’ve outlined here, they should cause your page to appear as high as possible in the search results and entice searchers to click through to your page.

If you have questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch:

Cheers,

Martin Malden

Here to help: Hi, I’m Martin Malden. If you’re worried about the ever-increasing flow of new security threats online, don’t have the time to maintain your site properly, or you could use some WordPress training, please get in touch.