Google has been making some changes for its search result listings, and a lot of it has to do with the way it handles title tags and meta descriptions. Let’s take a look at what this new update could mean for your website and web page visibility.
Google’s New Update, Title Tags, and Meta Descriptions: What You Need to Know
In August 2021, website owners started to notice a change in the way their pages were being displayed in SERPs. Instead of a search result displaying the custom title tag, the first <H1> tag was used as the title for whatever page or post. While this may not affect every website, the fact is that Google’s updates are making changes and for many websites, this could adversely affect their ranking. Here’s what you need to know about title tags and meta descriptions to protect your site.
How Titles Tags & Meta Descriptions Work
In short, title tags and meta descriptions tell search engines what your site is all about. It’s the 1-2 sentence description that comes up whenever someone searches for a particular keyword you’re ranking for.
For SEO purposes, they’re crucial for ranking for keyphrases related to your industry and at a technical level, function as a roadmap for web crawlers. At a consumer level, they act as bait for potential web visitors. For example, if a meta description tag is enticing enough to make a user click, your website traffic will inevitably increase.
Up until now, the best thing about title and meta descriptions has been the customization factor. Using certain keyword tools or by inserting the correct HTML code, you can have full control of how each of your pages is displayed on search engine results pages. It gives you the ability to specify your target keywords, stay within a certain character length, and give a call to action within your meta description.
Why Google’s Update is a Big Deal
Now that you understand the benefits of writing meta descriptions, you’ll see why Google’s most recent update can be overwhelming for SEO experts.
In Google’s own words, “In particular, we are making use of text that humans can visually see when they arrive at a web page. We consider the main visual title or headline shown on a page, content that site owners often place within <H1> tags or other header tags, and content that’s large and prominent through the use of style treatments. Other text contained in the page might be considered, as might be text within links that point at pages.”
Thus, instead of using the aforementioned title tag, Google bots may be using the <H1> tags in your content. While that may not be a problem for websites that use important keywords in their headings, many websites may be affected negatively by this change.
According to Google, this change is supposed to help users and reduce any ambiguity that keyword stuffing or unknown title tags have presented.
How You Should Respond
If you’ve noticed changes to your click-through rates from Google search results, it may be related to this update. There are three things we recommend you do:
- Make sure your <H1> tags have the appropriate keywords for each page and are formatted correctly
- Continue writing great title tags and meta descriptions that describe your page in the clearest way possible
- Stay away from making your <H1> dramatic or eye-catching. Make sure your title tags match your <H1> tags instead.
While Google has confirmed that they are making changes to their search results, they’re not throwing away title tags and meta descriptions completely. In their recent memo, they said “Of all the ways we generate titles, content from HTML title tags is still by far the most likely used, more than 80% of the time.”
So, never fear. All of your hard-earned keyword research and customized title tags aren’t all being replaced. As with any update, the goal is to enhance a user’s experience and make any web searching effortless. Make sure your pages are using <H1> tags and then start writing the best title tags and meta descriptions you can.
Your Houston SEO Expert
Have your page ranks decreased in the past couple of months? Your titles and meta descriptions may need to be optimized. Our team is on a mission to help enhance your SEO presence and boost your online ranking.
Get in touch for a free consultation so that we can start making sure your pages are optimized appropriately for search engines.