H1’s and Meta tags for SEO

The world of SEO can be daunting, however, there are some fairly simple things you can do on your website that can have a big impact on your search engine rankings. In this blog, we’re going to take a look at H1’s, meta descriptions and alt tags.

Not only do these elements have an impact on your search engine rankings (SERP), if actioned correctly, they make your content and website easier for the user by providing a descriptive overview of what your page/content is about.

H1 tags – also known as header one tag

H1’s, also known as the header tag is usually the title of a page or post on your website. H1 tags are important for SEO because they tell search engines and website visitors what the content of pages is about. When writing your H1 tag, make it as descriptive as possible, unique to you, but not too long! Think about what your potential clients might be searching for. So for example, if you’re a hotel in North Cornwall and you’re writing a page about your luxury spa, rather than just ‘Luxury Spa’ you might write ‘Luxury Spa in North Cornwall’ or ‘Luxury Spa in Newquay’. This tells the user your spa is in North Cornwall, search engines such as Google, will pick this up and potentially show to someone searching for a luxury spa in Cornwall/Newquay. Whereas your listing is unlikely to come up in the SERP if it just said ‘Luxury Spa’ as you would be competing against everyone in the world! Make sense? Your H1 should also be supplemented by two H2 tags which should be used like sub-headings to maximise your SEO.

If you’re not sure if your H1’s are set up correctly or if you’re amending the right section, ask your web developer or SEO agency to export a list of your H1’s on your website so you can check them.

Meta titles

Meta titles, sometimes known as title tags are displayed on search engine results pages (SERPs) as the clickable headline for a given result (shown in the image opposite). The title tag of a web page is meant to be an accurate description of a page’s content. Search engines expect a titles tag to include relevant keywords and phrases that describe what that page is about. The meta title tag does not show up on the webpage itself. Think of a meta title as a bit of text ‘behind the scenes’ helping search engines know what the page is about.

It’s really important to write your meta titles as well as possible as they show on 3 key places, giving the user a first impression of what your page is about:

  1. Search engine results page – this is highlighted in the image opposite, having a compelling title tag will improve your click through rate
  2. Social sharing – if your page is shared on social media, the meta and title description will show on the shared post
  3. Web browsers – displayed at the top of your web browser and acts as a placeholder so if people have lots of tabs open, it helps users keep track of the page

Google typically displays the first 50-60 characters of a title tag. If your title is too long, search engines may cut it off by adding an ellipsis (“…”) and could end up removing important words. Therefore, try to keep your titles under 60 characters.  Some research has also suggested putting keywords closer to the beginning of your title tag to have more impact on search rankings, but don’t keyword stuff, using too many keywords in a title tag may get you penalised. 

Meta descriptions

The meta description tag shows up below the meta title tag and is intended to be a short summary of the content found on the web page (image opposite). While the title tag is limited by characters, a meta description gives you a bit more space to tell users what you’re offering. It’s an opportunity to sell your service, giving them a compelling reason to click through to your webpage.

Meta descriptions can be any length, and the length will depend on the situation and page content but the main aim is to get people to click through to your website. We suggest keeping them below 300 characters and google tends to only show 160 characters so make those first 150 characters count! Meta descriptions do not have an impact on search engine rankings, however, they are crucial factor in increasing your click through rate (clicks to your website from the SERP). The meta descriptions are your opportunity to advertise yourself and encourage users to click through to your website. If you don’t have a meta description but a competitor does, it’s likely a user will click through to their website instead of yours.

Alt tags for images

The alt attributes of an image are commonly referred to as alt tag or alt text. The alt tag is important for the following reasons:

  • Adding alt tags to images is of great importance to web accessibility. It means that visually impaired users using screen readers will be able to read an alt attribute to better understand what an image on a website is about.

  • Alt tags will be displayed in place of an image if an image file cannot be loaded.

  • Alt tags provide better image context to search engines, helping them to index an image properly, supporting with SEO.

When writing an alt tag, be descriptive but don’t keyword stuff. For example, if it’s an image of your luxury spa in North Cornwall, the image alt tag could be ‘Luxury Spa at (insert name) in North Cornwall’. Explain what the image is without making the description too long.

We hope you found this overview helpful. If you want to talk to us about your SEO then just give us a call and we can have a chat.

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