How to Use the SEO Title and Description Tags to Grow Your Visitor Numbers

Description of InstructionsThere’ve been quite a few discussions recently about the use of META tags as part of on-page SEO.

Keywords, it seems, are out (at least for Google, and at least for now), but Titles and Descriptions are in.

Just to be clear, this is what I mean by Titles and Descriptions:

META Titles and Descriptions

Let me say upfront that, despite everything Matt Cutts said in that video, I still create keyword tags on my pages and articles.

Why? Because I don’t know that all search engines have stopped using them.

However, I also don’t spend hours agonizing over which keywords to use and I only use two or three at most.

That’s not to say keywords are irrelevant.

To get the best search engine results for an article you still need to know what question you’re answering when you write it, and to optimize it around a relevant keyword (or search term).

And the best way to find a relevant search term is to use a keyword tool to see what people are typing in to find what you’re writing about.

Here’s a keyword tool that is well worth a look: SEO Keyword research tool.

Then use that term in the Title and Description tags, as well as your H tags and content.

But one tag that’s rarely used to its full potential is the Description tag.

You can type almost any search term into any search engine and in 95% of the results you’ll find that the description beneath the title link is simply an excerpt from the article.

It’s whatever the search engine thinks is appropriate.

And while the description they pick is probably relevant to the search term, it almost certainly does not have any call to action in it.

If you’ve done any PPC advertising you’ll know the importance of relevance and calls to action to achieving a high click through rate.

The same principles apply to natural search results and the way to do it is through the Title and Description tags.

In PPC it’s important to have your keyword (the search term you’re optimizing for) in the title. Same in the natural search results.

In PPC it’s important to get your visitor to click through to your site through the use of benefits and a call to action. Same in the natural search results.

In both PPC and the natural search results I use the AIDA formula as much as I can:

A = Attention

I = Interest

D = Desire

A = Action

So rather than thinking of the Title and Description tags as two separate tags, think of them as two components of a single advertisement for your site or article, and apply the AIDA formula across them both.

Typically your title tag should catch the Attention, and the Description tag should create the Interest, Desire and Action.

Like this:

Using Title and Description tags to create click throughs

The term I’ve optimized this site for is Internet Marketing Tips – the first phrase in the title.

The first part of the description creates some interest (Effective Internet Marketing Tips for your small business), the second part triggers some desire (… products that get results) and the last part encourages them to visit (Hundreds of articles here).

Creating a descriptive, AIDA-based description tag will give you the edge over the site next to yours in the search results that simply uses a search-engine-defined snippet from its page.


Martin Malden

What do you think?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Scott C. Jul 21, 2010 @ 0:13

    I like how you broke it down at the end, stating the title should capture the attention and the description should bring about interest, desire and action. Not sure keywords are irrelevant as you say, but I agree with you that the “title” and “description” are more important now in Google’s algorithym.

    • Martin Jul 21, 2010 @ 6:56

      Hi Scott,

      The importance of keywords now, if I interpret the message in Matt Cutts’ video correctly, is not related to the META tags but to the words you focus your title, description, H tags and content around.

      I think the message is that the keywords META tag has been used to spam keywords so many times that Google (and most other search engines) have moved on to assessing the content and picking the keywords out of that.

      So, in order to do well, helping Google to understand the emphasis (or message) you’re offering is best done by focusing on search terms in those key areas.