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Optimising your website metadata

Wednesday, 20 July 2011 13:59 Written by  John
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OK, so you’ve identified the keywords and phrases that you want to compete for in the search engines. You’ve assessed these and think you’ll get a decent volume of quality traffic from them and that you have a fair chance of competing.

So what next?

The next stage of the process is onpage (or onsite) optimisation. This involves tweaking your web pages to make full use of the keywords you’ve selected.

First thing to look at is the metadata. This is data that is read by the search engines – if you don’t know how to change it you’ll need to ask your web developer.

First thing to change is the meta title – the title that appears right at the top of the screen. On our homepage it’s:

‘Web Design Cambridge | SEO Friendly Web Design for Cambridge SMEs.’

Now if you’ve read the keyword analysis part of this blog you’ll know one of our keywords is: ‘Web Design Cambridge’. In the title I’ve slipped in the keywords directly and indirectly. Do remember that the page title will be seen by people searching Google so it needs to make sense to a human too.

Google will crop your title after 66 characters whereas Yahoo won’t crop the title until it reaches 120 characters – aim to get a readable keyword title in 66 characters and than add the additional characters in for Yahoo. To be honest we aim most of our optimisation at Google so have left it at 66 characters.

The next thing is the meta description – the description that appears under the page title in a Google search. For our homepage it is:

‘SWAYsearch web design, Cambridge, specialise in great looking search engine friendly web design for small and medium Cambridge businesses.’

Whilst officially the meta description isn’t used by Google to rank websites why take the chance? We use our main keywords and make sure that they read well to the human eye. It’s one thing to come up top in Google but if nobody clicks your link it really won’t help. Try to make you meta description around 150 - 160 characters long.

Third piece of meta data to change are the meta keywords. These were once the key to being found in the search engines (back in the pre-Google days of AltaVista and Lycos et all) but these days don’t really hold any value at all. That’s not to say don’t add them – you certainly won’t be penalised for meta keywords – but don’t stress over them. Basically just add in the keywords you want to be found in the search engines for.

That’s the initial part of optimising your metadata, next we move onto the body copy.

Last modified on Friday, 26 August 2011 07:59


John is a co-founder of SWAYsearch.


  • Comment Link Darren Thursday, 27 October 2011 08:26 posted by Darren

    Trying to optimise my new webpages and your tips are excellent! I never knew about this until i read your article.. Thanks!!

    I've still a way to go.. but it's a good learning curve :)

  • Comment Link Jon Monday, 16 April 2012 16:41 posted by Jon

    Hi. My wife and I own several businesses in Cambridge and they all have a website. We will also be starting more businesses in the future which will also require a website. We are looking for someone we can trust to help manage, SEO and update our site as well as building new ones but we are also looking for something else. Previous work with web design/SEO companies has not been as successful as we would have liked and so the next company we work with we would like to them to show us more about how we access our sites, how the SEO is done, how we update our sites etc. This might seem like we want to gain a full understanding of the service you offer so that we can just go and do it ourselves but we don't. We want to be able to do some of the work ourselves occasionally but we don't have time to do it all the time and to be honest our time is better spent elsewhere. We want to have an understanding of our websites, how they work and what we could possibly do to improve them. I have approached you with this query as from your website you seem to understand that the customer might require this information and you have posted tutorials to help. I am not very academically minded and tutorials don't really work for me but I was wondering if you could offer a face to face service or some kind of work experience that might help. I appreciate your time and look forward to your response. Kind regards Jon

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