Create perfect meta titles and descriptions: Practical SEO tips

A hand holding a business card.

Meta titles and meta descriptions are a website’s business cards.

Every business has a name and address and a nameplate by the front door. A website’s metadata serves a similar purpose. Meta titles and descriptions act as a billboard for your website in the search results – a sort of digital business card or welcome sign.

So, what is their fundamental purpose? In short, to turn searchers into visitors – and, ideally, into customers, friends and fans who visit your website on a regular basis. It’s therefore worth taking the time to craft effective meta titles and meta descriptions. In this article, we’ll show you how to do just that and pass on some handy SEO tips for metadata.

Why are meta titles and meta descriptions so important?

If you enter a search term into Google, you’ll end up on a search engine results page, or SERP for short. As the name suggests, these pages display search results, which include page previews. The results incorporate so-called snippets, which are made up of a page’s URL, its meta title and usually its meta description or a short excerpt from the page’s text. The metadata on the SERP gives searchers an initial impression of what they can expect if they click on that search result.
SERP snippet from Kolibri Online with URL, Meta Title and Meta Description.
SERP snippet from Kolibri Online with URL, Meta Title and Meta Description.

SERPs display a page’s URL, meta title and, ideally, a meta description.

Good to know

Google no longer sees your website’s desktop version as primary. Mobile-first indexing is now standard for all websites. This has an impact on how we create metadata, as SERP snippets are displayed differently on mobile devices compared to computers and laptops.

SERP snippets from Kolibri Online for Destop and Mobile in comparison.
SERP snippets from Kolibri Online for Destop and Mobile in comparison.

Online tools like the Sistrix SERP Snippet Generator provide a preview of how metadata is displayed on mobile and desktop devices.

Tip

The Google Chrome extension SEO META in 1 CLICK makes it easy to check the metadata of individual URLs.

What is a meta title? Definition and characteristics

The meta title acts as a signpost, telling searchers what the main topic of a page is. Search engines like Google and Bing use the title tag to categorise page content – just like the tags assigned to books in a library. A page’s meta title is therefore very important for search engine optimisation.

Strategic keyword placement in meta titles

SEO guides and advice pages often recommend putting the primary keyword as close to the start of a meta title as possible – but some veteran SEO specialists dispute this. Google doesn’t have any requirements about this.

Important: The keyword must describe the page content as precisely as possible. This means you mustn’t promise something you can’t deliver – no matter what a term’s search volume is!

Character limits in meta titles

The character limit for meta titles is set at 569 pixels, which corresponds to about 70 characters. However, to make sure the full title is displayed on SERPs, we usually recommend using a maximum of just 55 to 65 characters.

SERP snippet with meta title from Ottonova

The keyword “daily sickness allowance” is prominently positioned in this meta title.

5 SEO tips for meta titles

  • Length: Max. 70 characters, incl. spaces (569 px)
    We recommend: 55–65 characters, incl. spaces
  • Primary keyword as close to the start as possible
  • Plan topics and content
  • Describe the page content concisely and informatively
  • Don’t use superfluous or irrelevant keywords
  • Meta titles often end in | Brand

What is a meta description? Definition and characteristics

Meta descriptions are primarily a suggestion for Google. This means that the search engine can display the meta description you provide in its snippet – but it doesn’t have to. If Google doesn’t think that the description provided in the meta tags is sufficiently relevant, the Google algorithm will source another excerpt from the text on the page and display that on SERPs instead.

Good to know

Other search engines, such as Bing, never display the meta description and instead always use a section of text that their algorithm thinks is related to the search query.

What is the ideal length for meta descriptions?

Although the length of a meta title is limited to 569 pixels, there is no precisely defined character limit for meta descriptions. Google recommends providing a short, concise description of the page content in 1 to 2 sentences – but doesn’t set any precise requirements regarding character limits. One thing is clear, however: space on SERPs is at a premium. With this in mind, it’s important to create short yet informative descriptions that describe the page content as precisely as possible. Our experience has shown that meta descriptions should preferably be 145 to a maximum of 155 characters long.
Meta Description from Ottonova

The ideal meta description piques the user’s curiosity about a given page.

Person taps on a tablet displayed the Google homepage.

5 SEO tips for meta descriptions

  • Length: Max. 145–155 characters, incl. spaces (960 px)
  • Include suitable keywords and, if appropriate, similar search queries
  • Provide an informative description in line with the page’s content
  • Use symbols and emojis where needed to set your page apart from the rest of the search results
  • Don’t use superfluous or irrelevant keywords
  • Include CTAs where appropriate

TIP

Online tools like the Sistrix SERP Snippet Generator are handy when creating metadata.

In a nutshell: How to create optimised metadata for Google and users

  1. Create unique content that offers users genuine value – and only then create the metadata
  2. Use free SERP snippet tools to create metadata of the ideal length, including emojis, symbols and so on
  3. Include suitable keywords in your meta title – this is a key SEO consideration
  4. Provide a preview or insight into the page content in the meta description – this generates curiosity and interest
  5. Use special characters such as icons and emojis to catch the eye – and separate your snippet from the other search results
Interested in further SEO tips? In our SEO training sessions, we provide fascinating insights into content SEO, along with practical tips and handy tools.

About the author

Our team: Portrait Adrian Anton
Adrian Anton
Content Marketing Editor
+49 40 5247774-0
a.anton@kolibri.online

Kolibri Online GmbH
Bernstorffstrasse 128
D-22767 Hamburg