2018 Search Engine Optimization Update: Mastering Metadata
Metadata is the verbiage you code into a website that may not be visible to the visitors. Each page should have a unique set of metadata. The metadata is carefully crafted to work in conjunction with the copy on each page.
Make sure not repeat the same metadata on multiple pages. Each page of a website can rank independently. The home page cannot rank for everything. Instead have focus keyword phrases for each page.
The main metadata components are:
Page title is probably the most important element for SEO. Adding the right title to your pages can still have a direct influence on your ranking. Make sure to include the main keyword phrase at the beginning. If your business is regional, include the city. Some people include the name of the business and some people don’t. I might include it on the home page, if the domain name is different from the business name. If your URL is the name of the business, I would argue that it is not needed in the title.
I craft my page title like this if it is a regional business:
main keyword phrase + city, secondary keyword phrase
For example: “sports medicine doctor Jacksonville FL, Stephen Lucie MD”.
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 not at the beginning.
The preferred length is approximately 55-70 characters and spaces. Some people use pipes to separate phases in a title. That is the vertical bar that might replace a comma. I like a comma because it only takes two spaces, while a pipe takes three. (SPACE PIPE SPACE)
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.
About | Dr Stephen Lucie
While this is a technically correct page title, it doesn’t have enough keyword phrases in it. So, it is poorly optimized.
It might rank for “about Dr Stephen Lucie”.
There has been some discussion about whether to use spaces after the commas in the page title. You actually don’t have to use spaces. But it is harder to read for visitors. I prefer spaces.
<title>High blood pressure,Hypertension</title>
Actually, Google may not show what your page title is in your search.
It may substitute what it shows with something else it thinks is more relevant to your search phrase. If you search the name of the business, instead of what the business does, Google may show you the name of the page title as the business name.
For example, page title shown when searching the name of the business
Mary Fisher Design
Actual page title:
If you do a Google or Bing search, it is the short paragraph of copy shown after the page title
In December 2017, Google updated the number of characters (and spaces) in the meta description from 140 to 320. Then in March 2018, it changed the number of characters and spaces to 160 for desktop. And the character count view on phones is 130. We don’t see that you are penalized for having more than the suggested number. And in fact, I believe that Google still sees it, but doesn’t show it.
The meta description should describe what that webpage 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 helps to get the viewer to click on your website. 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. In fact, Yoast says Google tends to show the first paragraph most of the time.
With this in mind, we must craft our meta data carefully. Make it compelling and relevant. Remember the meta description should work in conjunction with the page title and copy on the page.
This is your headline on the page, above the body copy. The visitor will see this.
Keep your h1 headers short and include keyword phrases. Only one h1 header per page. You can also have h2 and h3 headers (subheads) with good keywords.
Google no longer finds the meta keywords useful. Bing and Yahoo both say they give very little ranking importance. They have said if there is a lot of keyword stuffing, then they may have negative effects on ranking. In fact, Yoast doesn’t even have a place to put meta keywords any more. Yoast is a free WordPress SEO plug in has a “focus keyword”, which is different. It grades you on how well your page will rank on that keyword that you have chosen on the page. It is not always correct though.
I see more emphasis on ranking recently with alt tags. Originally written for the sight impaired, alt tags are now also created to help website rankings. An alt tag is written for each graphic or photo on a website. So, make sure you name your graphic something with keywords and also give it an alt tag that includes key word phrases. Alt tags have no spaces. Instead words are separated by hyphens
While photo captions are not technically metadata, they are increasing in importance in helping a website rank
While copy is not part of the metadata, it is very important that the copy includes keyword phrases that match your metadata, preferably in the first paragraph. The more your copy matches, the higher that page will rank. Remember each page can rank independently for different keyword phrases.
Below is an example of page title, meta description and H1 header for www.drstephenlucie.com
Orthopedic Doctor regenerative medicine Jacksonville FL, Stem cell therapy Steve Lucie
Jacksonville FL’s JOI orthopedic doctor offering regenerative medicine. Stephen Lucie offers total joint replacement, sports medicine and stem cell therapy
- Stephen Lucie, M.D. Orthopedic Doctor at Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute
“orthopaedic doctor Jacksonville fl”
This is the metadata you see in a Google search for Dr. Stephen Lucie:
Did you know you can see your competitors’ metadata?
You can view the source code of the page and see it there.
Or 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: