Meta titles and descriptions
When you are creating web pages, you’ll see an option to add a meta title (1) and description (2). This text will be visible in the search results.
As a best practice, keep the meta title under 65 characters so it won’t get cut out on the search results. You can use a meta description checker to see how long your text is and how it'll look on Google.
Also, always include your main keyword as close to the beginning of the title as possible. The meta title describes the main purpose of your page.
The meta description doesn’t impact how Google ranks your website but it does influence your visitor’s decision to click or skip your search result.
How to create an effective meta description:
Keep it under 155 characters, so it won’t be cut out.
Include your main keyword and try adding a few supporting keywords (keywords that match the ones of the search query will appear bolded on Google).
Keep the text informative and useful to the reader. Detailly describe what the searcher can expect if they click and end it with a CTA (e.g. “Visit now”, “Read now!”, “Check to find out”)
It’s important to use a clear hierarchy of your text using different sized headers.
Always include the most important keywords at the beginning.
Here is an example of a header structure (“How to take care of a dog”).
This is just an example, but the point is to show you that every page should be organized in a logical way with the main points as headers followed by support points for each main topic.
Keeping your searcher’s true intent in mind, use your main KWs (e.g. dog care, dog carings tips, take care of dogs) and supporting keywords (e.g. feeding dog, grooming dog, vaccinating dog) throughout the text of your page.
That said, do not overload your pages with keywords. Keep the text natural and useful. Stuffing keywords doesn’t work and can even have a harmful effect.
Make sure your formatting remains consistent throughout the text.
If your page is long with a lot of content, consider adding a table of contents with anchor links at the beginning of the page. For better scannability, use bullet points or number lists where appropriate, and include images.
When you add images, don’t forget to add ALT text.
The image file name and ALT text should be descriptive. Use appropriate keywords based on your keyword research. It’s more valuable to keep it descriptive than to stuff KWs.
Image ALT text helps not only for search engines to better understand the content on your page but also for vision-impaired people who may be browsing through your page.
To help give you an idea of what works best, let’s write a poor, average and good ALT text for the below image of a super cute puppy.
Poor ALT text: Dog
Average ALT text: A dog with a bone
Good ALT text: A pug puppy carrying a bone treat
You can name your image files based on the same logic as ALT texts.
When writing your URL text (slug), keep it short, descriptive and include the main keyword.
Also, avoid using symbols and non-English letters, see below:
Avoid URLs like:
A good URL example:
Updating your content from time to time can have a big impact on how you rank.
Three insights for content freshness:
Writing new content requires time, instead check your old content. You probably already have something that once performed well. By updating the older content with relevant information, you have a higher chance for a well-performing piece again.
If you have content that ranks at the start of a second search results page, a slight update to your meta title and a few additional paragraphs with relevant information might give you a boost to jump from the second to the first page. That can mean a huge increase in traffic!
Some content by nature must remain fresh to rank. Let’s take our example of taking care of a dog. While feeding, grooming and caring your dog are things that remain relatively the same over time. Things like “best dog collars” or “top Christmas gifts for your dog” will change over time because of trends, innovation, fashion and other factors. Also, notice that the intention of the queries is different as well.
Let’s analyze a search query that doesn’t need very fresh content to rank successfully: "Taking care of dogs teeth."
The first result is a video from 2009:
There are a few articles that date back to 2015 and 2016, and a few more recent ones from 2018 and 2019.
Then you’ll see videos from 2009 and the most recent one is from the beginning of 2019.
The vast gap between the time content was published is a good indication that content freshness is not as important for this topic. Probably because there is not as much innovation about taking care of your dog’s teeth.
However, if we search for something like "Best dog collars", the content publishing dates change by a large margin.
Out of the top five results, the oldest one is from October 2019, and the others are all from 2020.
The search term "best dog collars" has a commercial investigation intention (researching to buy a product). There could be more innovation for this query requiring more frequent updates.
For example, a newer player enters the market with environmentally-friendly collars that become a huge hit. Someone launches a technical collar with Bluetooth tracking that becomes popular.
Duplicate content is content that appears on more than 1 website. While quoting someone on your website is perfectly fine, if 80-90% of your content is copied from somewhere else on the web, you will likely have a problem.
Duplicate content can have a negative impact on your rankings. All of the pages you want to rank should have unique content (including meta titles and meta descriptions).
A few common reasons duplicate content appears on your website:
Copying descriptions from other sites that you plan to resell or other related content
Copying content from one section of your site to another
Having multiple languages on your website but forgetting to translate certain pages
You won’t get a penalty for duplicate content, but you will compete with yourself if you have duplicate content within your website. Since the content is already indexed and ranking on search engines, you will not have a chance to rank against another website that already has the content.
An easy and quick way to find out if you have duplicate content (or someone copied content from you) is to use Google search. Use some unique text within your page, copy it and insert it “between quotation marks” in the search box.
What results are popping out in Google? If there’s only one page with an exact match, you are good. If there are more pages with the same content, investigate further.