When a user enters a query into their favorite search engine, do they know where the search engine finds the hits it returns? Most users never give it another thought; they look through the results for the best fitting answer to their particular question and never wonder where the search engine dug it up. The search engine is looking for page titles and descriptions containing the keywords the user entered in the search engine’s input box.
When the engine gets a hit on a page title, it looks at the description, and if it finds another hit there, it will pull up the link it found and search the returned page. The more hits, and the more references it finds to the link, the higher up in the results the page will appear. Spending time on your page title and description will move you up in the results pool.
The page title you enter is not the same as the title you enter on your site. The page title is considered a Meta tag, as is the description. Once upon a time, your Meta tags were the primary way a search engine found your site. Now, the pertinent Meta tags are the page title, description, and primary keywords.
A page title must be short; 55 to 60 characters in length, with 55 being the preferred number. Your page title must contain your specific key words once; if it is grammatically necessary, the page title can contain the keywords twice, but never more than twice. Using keywords more than twice in the title is considered ‘keyword stuffing and it will get your site dropped from the results pool
The description is also not usually part of your site’s content; it is what appears in the results pool returned by your query. Descriptions range from 150 to 200 characters in length, with 150 characters being the preferred length. Your specific keywords must appear within the first 80 to 90 characters, but the closer to the beginning of the first sentence, the better your results will be. As in your page title, your specific keyword should appear once, possibly twice, but never three or more times or you’ll be dropped for keyword stuffing.
Your page title and description are the first thing an inquiring user will see. You should treat these two things as teasers. In the advertising game, a teaser gets a customer into your store or, in the case of e-commerce, your site. There are literally millions of websites out there, and you want users to find your site in their search results. Getting placed highly in the results is the first step, but you have to grab a user’s attention with your results; getting ranked first in the pool is useless if the user doesn’t click through to your site. Make the title and description interesting, compelling, inviting – in other words, worth the user’s effort to go to your site. You can be catchy, cute, attractive, even mesmerizing, but you must answer a user’s question or offer a solution to their problem, and you’ve got 205 characters to do it. Make your results worth someone’s time, and they’ll click through to your landing page.
Once you’ve gotten the user in the door, keep them there with solid, useful content. If your site is truly what they need, once they determine this you’ll have converted their traffic to a sale; sales are, after all, the name of the game.