What is it that makes a website rank in the #1 spot for a Google search query? How does Google determine which websites to display in the first page of search results? The exact answer is a secret guarded more closely than the IRS formula for who gets audited. However, many factors in Google’s secret search algorithm are known. Putting those known factors to use for your website is the basis for SEO (search engine optimization).
A quick refresher on Google’s job and your job: Google’s job is to find the most relevant web pages for a search query and provide them quickly and efficiently. Your primary job with regard to your website is to make sure that it is easy for your customers to use, secondary to that is that it is easy for the search engines to use as well. Getting this in the wrong order will get you in trouble with both audiences.
Let’s notice two separate tags that you can use to improve website usability for your customers and the search engines.
The <title> tag appears in the html programming code inside of the <head> tag of the web page. Each page on your website should have a unique title. This page title will appear at the top of the browser window where it is seen by visitors to your website. Additionally, the search engines will display this same title when listing your web page in the search results. Therefore, it is very important that the title be relevant to the contents of the page.
How to use the title tag to improve your Google rank:
- Use unique titles across all pages on your website.
- Use titles that are specific to the contents of the page.
- Use titles that give enough information to be helpful to the people using your website.
What to Avoid:
- Using titles that are not relevant to the contents of the page.
- Generic titles like home, page 1, or untitled.
- Using the same title across all pages on your website.
- Using titles that are too long to be helpful for the people using your website.
Description Meta Tag
The description meta tag appears in the html programming code inside the <head> tag and just below the <title> tag. This page description provides a summary of what the page is about to the search engines. While the page title is short, ranging from a couple of words to a short sentence, the page description may range from a single sentence to a short paragraph. This description might be used as the description of your web page in the search engine’s search results. “Might” is the operative word, because in some cases the description is used and in other cases the search engine grabs a description from elsewhere on the page – depending, in part, on how relevant it determines your description to be.
How to use the meta description tag to improve your search engine rank:
- Use unique meta description tags across all pages on your website.
- Use descriptions that are specific to the contents of the page.
- Use descriptions that give enough information to be helpful for people who may see this in the search results to describe this page on your website.
What to Avoid:
- Using descriptions that are not relevant to the specific page they appear on.
- Using the same description across all pages on your website.
- Using only key words for the description.
- Using generic wording such as this is my home page…
- Using the entire content of the web page as the content of the description tag.
Properly implemented title and description tags will make your website easier for your customers to use and will improve your rankings in Google and the other search engines as well.