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Last week, we talked about how building designers can use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to improve and increase business. This week, we’re going to look at some specific SEO rules and techniques that you can use to immediately start improving your site rankings in the search engines.
Entire books have been written on this subject, but we’re going to take a look at two specific things: the meta data, and basic page SEO.
Even still, there’s a lot to talk about, so we will break this into two parts. This week, we’ll look at the meta data. Next week, we’ll take a look at optimizing page content.
Optimizing the Meta Data
Meta data is what the search engines use to categorize and understand your web page. You need to do this with every single web page on your website. The good news is, once you set the meta data, it likely won’t need changed unless you’re tweaking for better rankings.
There are three parts to the meta data that you need to know about today: title, description, and keywords.
If your webpage functions without using a content management system (CMS) like WordPress, it’s likely you’ll have to learn the HTML (or have your web designer add the meta data). If you use WordPress (recommended), you can use various plugins to handle it for you (I recommend the Yoast SEO plugin).
Optimizing the Meta Title
The meta title is the title of your webpage. It will appear in the respective tab of your browser, the title area of the search engine results, as well as in social shares such as Facebook.
Moz, a resource on learning SEO and digital marketing, recommends you use the following format:
Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Brand
So, for example, you could have:
Residential Designer – Building Designer | Cool Home Designs Brand
This specific format isn’t necessarily the best nor the only format you should use, however, you should stick to the basic principles of the format.
The page its self would have content specifically about you being a Residential Designer.
It’s important that the primary keyword be unique to that page in that there is only one page dedicated to that primary keyword, and thus only one meta title with that primary keyword. The page content should reflect that and be exclusively about that particular subject.
The brand can be the name of an individual (the designer) if that’s the name they do business as.
A common format for location based businesses is to have the keyword, then the location, then the brand:
Residential Designer in Miami, FL | Cool Home Designs Brand
Whatever you decide to go with, make sure that your format is consistent through your entire website.
Some people prefer a format that only has the primary keyword. Some prefer not to have their brand in the title. These are okay; you have to figure out what work best for your site and adjust it in the future.
The length should be under 55 characters, but that is not a hard rule. Having a longer meta title isn’t going to hurt you unless it’s ridiculously long. The important part is that people, viewing in the search results or in social media, can see by the title what your page is about.
Keep the important information first. If your brand name at the end runs over the character limit, that’s okay.
For a blog post, your title will be the title of the blog post, rather than a main keyword, with the brand name at the end. If the title is too long to include the brand, that’s okay.
This is a Blog Post Title | Cool Home Designs Brand
Optimizing the Description
The description tag will contain a brief description of the content on the page, as well as a call to action. This will be seen in the search engines as well as in social shares such as Facebook.
The general format here is loose, but include a primary keyword, secondary keyword if it fits, brand name, and location if you’re a location based business. You’ll also want to save room for a call to action.
Here’s an example of a good meta description:
Looking for a residential designer in Miami, FL? Cool Home Design Brand has a building designer ready to design your dream home. Click here for more info!
That one cuts it close at 154 characters, but it will work. It includes the main keyword with the location, the secondary keyword, and a call to action to get them to click on the page.
One tweak you can test in the future is removing the secondary keyword and seeing if your rankings improve. If you’re doing well without the secondary keyword, just keep doing what works! The thing about tweaking for SEO is that different websites will react differently, so there are only a few rules that work on every page.
Your description needs to be under 155 characters. This is important because when we end with a call to action, we don’t want it to be cut out with an ellipsis (…) and be left unseen. That will hurt our conversion rate, and the conversions are what’s most important here after the page is ranking.
Optimizing Meta Keywords
The meta keywords used to be important in SEO but were abused to the point that they are no longer relevant at all. In fact, the Yoast SEO plugin doesn’t even have the option to input them anymore.
You don’t need to worry about this at all. If someone tells you otherwise, they’re suggesting something that will waste your time.
Having meta keywords will not heart you, but they will not help you, either. It’s really just a waste of time at this point. If that changes in the future, we will be sure to let you know.
That’s all that you need to know as far as optimizing your meta data. Next week, we’ll get into Part 2: Optimizing Your Page Content.
- The meta title should have primary keyword, location, and brand name
- A meta description should have primary keyword, secondary keyword, location, and brand name
- All meta keywords are entirely useless