Optimize metadata: Title tags and meta descriptions

Metadata, also known as meta information, is structured data that contains information about the individual characteristics of other data.

Web page metadata in the form of HTML tags is primarily intended to improve the searchability of the page for web crawlers.

Meta data HTML

By specifying metadata, individual instructions for controlling search engine robots can be stored.

The actual data and content are therefore described in a different way in the metadata and stored in a way that is understandable for the crawlers. However, very little of this meta information can be interpreted by the search robots. This essentially depends on their capabilities and configuration.

The web crawler of the Google search engine (the so-called Googlebot) can read meta tags of the HTML and XHTML type and interprets the following meta element attributes of web pages:

  • Meta – title
  • Meta – description
  • Meta – robots
  • Meta – keywords

In addition, extended meta tags can be interpreted by Googlebot, but only the most important tags for search engine optimization are dealt with here. Here is a detailed list of meta tags that Google understands.


The Meta – Title

The meta title

The so-called meta title of a website is an HTML meta tag and is used in almost all cases by Google for the title of the page in the search results pages (SERPs: Search Engine Result Pages).

The meta title is therefore highly relevant in terms of its influence on the ranking. The title element is used as one of around 200 factors to calculate the ranking in Google’s search results. It also has the additional important task of attracting Google users to the website with appealing formulations. By adapting the meta title, an improvement in the ranking in the search results can be achieved with comparatively little effort.

What does a good meta title look like?

A good meta title should contain the following elements from an SEO perspective:

  • Each URL should have a title.
  • The keyword of the primary ranking URL should be in the first position in the title.
  • Each URL should have a unique, meaningful title.
  • A clear added value should be apparent to the user.
  • An optimization for the user ( call to action ).
  • The title should not exceed a certain length (number of pixels).

The maximum length of the title tag

The interpretation of the meta title tag has changed due to various Google updates in the algorithm. The pixel width of each individual letter of the title is added together to calculate the total width.

The specification of the title tag is no longer determined by the number of characters, but by a specified width of 512 pixels. Experience has shown that an optimal title of a page should not consist of more than 50 characters (without spaces). If the pixel width is exceeded, each additional character is cut off by “…”.

Automatic change of the title tag by Google

If an improvement in usability for the user is expected, it is quite possible that Google will replace the title tag of a website with data from other sources such as generally accessible information or entries from directories such as the Open Directory Project.

Display of DMOZ data

By entering your own page in the DMOZ ( Open Directory Project ), it is possible for Google to take information from this source for the reasons mentioned above. However, it is possible to use an extended meta tag to avoid using the Open Directory Project as a source.

Updating changes that have been made

Please note that it may take some time after changes have been made or meta tags have been added for the changes to be crawled and indexed. This process can take days to weeks.


The meta description

The meta description

The meta description is a short descriptive text that is intended to explain the content of an HTML document and, like the title, is stored in the head area.

According to Google, the meta description is not used to calculate the ranking in the search results ( SERPs ), but is an important factor influencing the click-through rate (CTR) of users, which experience has shown to have a very direct effect on the ranking.

Meta descriptions are a maximum of 150 characters long, including spaces. If the number of characters is exceeded, each additional character is truncated by “…”. The meta description often contains direct customer addresses or keywords that advertise the content of the page. In addition, it is also customary to refer to special services, awards and certificates.

What does a good meta description look like?

A good meta description should contain the following elements from an SEO perspective:

  • An individual and high-quality description for each URL.
  • Clearly structured data should be added to the description.
  • A clear added value should be apparent to the user.
  • An optimization for the user ( call to action, customer approach, call to action ).
  • The description should not exceed a certain length (100 – 150 characters, including spaces).
  • The most important keywords should be included
  • Use of USPs

Meta keywords

The so-called meta keywords are not used for Google, Yahoo and Bing rankings. When using meta keywords, it should be noted that the number of search terms should be kept within limits and reflect the actual page content (keyword stuffing). No more than ten keywords should be used.

Important information for webmasters:

When maintaining relevant meta keywords, it is important to remember that these are visible to everyone in the source code. This makes it easy for potential competitors to find out the main keywords used.

Keyword stuffing with metadata

Metadata has long been misused to specify a large number of misleading keywords in order to achieve a good ranking in search engine results. However, this so-called keyword stuffing is now recognized by search engines and classified as spam. Search engines such as Google currently place more value on relevant and topic-related text content with clear added value for the user of a website.

With a few exceptions, meta information is ignored and is no longer included in the ranking of the page. In the following section, you can find out which meta data is still recognized by search engines and is included as a factor in the ranking.

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