Titles and meta descriptions

 

Good titles

The title of your page or post is clearly very important. It sets the tone for your piece of content and entices users to click and read more.

A good title should include a keyword and reflect the language people are using on the web about your subject.

For posts in particular, don’t try to tell the whole story in the title. Give them enough information to be interested, but leave something for the reader to find out when they read your content.

Titles should be 60-65 characters.

Titles above this limit tend to get cut off  by '...' on search results pages. 

 

Overly long titles also create overly long URLs which are harder to share and less liked by search engines. The example above creates this long URL:
www.nihr.ac.uk/news/nihrs-research-for-social-care-call-to-run-twice-per-year-with-expanded-remit-to-include-children-and-young-peoples-social-care/30667

Use the word count feature in Google docs or Microsoft Word to check your title lengths. In Google docs this is on the top menu>tool>word count.

META description

The META description is the piece of text which appears alongside the page title in search results to describe a page.

It is an important factor to consider as it will influence whether users click through to your page or not. It is your opportunity to advertise your content to searchers. The searcher will use it to decide whether the content is likely to contain the information they're seeking.

It is also displayed on listings page for:

  • News
  • Blogs
  • Jobs
  • Committees

 

 

Writing the META description

A good META description should summarise the content of the page in an enticing way.

Top tips:

  • Use a keyword. Search engines often bold keywords from the user’s query in the description display, which draws the eye of the searcher. Consider the words the searcher will use for your page and include them in your META description.
  • Keep it under 160 characters, going over the character limit means it will get cut off on the search results page. Use a META length checker tool or Google docs’ word count tool to check your character limit.
  • Make sure that your description isn’t too difficult to understand. People need to know what they can expect to find on your page.
  • Try not to simply repeat the title, as the description will always appear alongside the title. Some of the words will inevitably be the same, but this is your chance to sell the page further

Ideal META description example

 

This description ticks the box for length – none is cut off. It summarises that page well and encourages the reader to ‘explore’ its content and contains the keywords ‘jobs’ and ‘vacancies’.

Why isn’t my META description showing up in Google?

Sometimes, depending on the search query, Google will replace the META description it displays with text from the content of the page or post. This is usually if that text is deemed more relevant to that search query and summarises the page better for users.