Page titles and Descriptions

What are they?

Imagine walking into a library and discovering none of the books display titles (or offer descriptions)

Books with no titles

It would be very difficult to quickly scan the books and identify any of interest.

Likewise, all web pages should offer accurate titles and descriptions to assist users. When we use a search engine, it’s usually these page titles and descriptions which are displayed to help us find the pages we’re looking for.

For this reason, since the beginning of the internet it has always been possible to set a title and a description tag for every individual web page.

These should offer accurate and concise information about the content of the page, providing a valuable insight into the subject matter. Techno-jargon: Google refers to the title and description tag collectively as the page ‘snippet’.

The code for these items is part of the raw HTML code of the page – but isn’t displayed on the page itself. You can view the title and description of any web page. Most browsers provide an easy option for viewing the HTML code behind any particular page. Here’s an example of the code to look for:

<title>Norfolk Webcams</title>

<meta name=”description” content=”List of Norfolk webcams – get a live view from different locations around Norfolk, including Norwich. Please tell us about any others we haven’t listed.”/>

Why are they important?

Your page titles and descriptions provide a vitally important insight into your pages to both human visitors and search engines.

Besides good quality page content, well-crafted page titles and descriptions are usually considered to be the next most influential factor in determining the visibility of your pages on search engines and the likelihood of users clicking to visit your pages.

If your page titles and descriptions are missing or poorly written, you’re probably missing out on a vital opportunity to help your website succeed.

Specifically, page titles and descriptions are used for the following purposes:

1. For display on search engine result pages

Google snippet

2. In web browsers

Browser page title

3. When a page is shared on social networking websites

Social Media page sharing

How can I set them?

Remember that titles and descriptions are set for each page individually, reflecting the content of the particular page concerned. Naturally, your home page is the most important one as it’s often the main gateway to your website. Other pages, with minimal content are less important. But every page should always be considered.

Yoast SEOIf your website is powered by WordPress, the Yoast SEO plug-in provides a friendly and helpful method for you to update your own page titles and descriptions, using it’s ‘Snippet Editor’.

Visit the Yoast SEO: titles and meta descriptions help page for further information.

TIP: With WordPress and the Yoast SEO plug-in, you can view all your page titles and descriptions in one go. In Admin, go to either Posts or Pages and use the ‘Screen Options’ button (top right) to view titles and descriptions. Turn off any fields which aren’t useful to keep things as uncluttered as possible.

If your website doesn’t use WordPress (or the Yoast SEO plug-in), your page titles and descriptions might need to be manually updated – but this is a quick job to accomplish. Provide the precise page titles and descriptions you require and these can be easily copied and pasted into place.

Where can I find further information?

Recommended reading:

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