Yes! Page titles and meta descriptions still matter quite a bit, although in different ways.
Why Page Titles Matter
One of the most important aspects to having your website send a strong SEO signal is creating unique, descriptive
Page titles for each page on the website. In fact, according to Moz, title tags are the second most important SEO-factor, right behind the main content on the page.
Page titles are what searchers and search engines use to understand the topic and purpose of the unique web page:
“Titles are critical to giving users a quick insight into the content of a result and why it’s relevant to their query. It’s often the primary piece of information used to decide which result to click on, so it’s important to use high-quality titles on your web pages.”
–Google Search Console Help
It’s recommended that you keep your titles under 60 characters long, although Google doesn’t use a character count, but rather has a fixed width per devices in which it can show the title. If your title is too long, search engines will cut it off with an ellipsis…
Best practices for writing Page titles:
- Describe your page as accurately and concisely as possible
- Make sure you are writing for humans, not algorithms
- Having the focus keywords at the beginning of the page title
Why Meta Descriptions Matter
Keywords in meta descriptions have not been a ranking factor since 2009. However, meta descriptions do play a role in what searchers see in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) and can have an impact on your click-through rate from the Google search results.
“Description meta tags are important because Google might use them as snippets for your pages. Note that we say “might” because Google may choose to use a relevant section of your page’s visible text if it does a good job of matching up with a user’s query. Adding description meta tags to each of your pages is always a good practice in case Google cannot find a good selection of text to use in the snippet.”
–Google Search Console Help
Sometimes search engines won’t use your meta description; it’s okay. When Google doesn’t think the existing meta description adequately answers a user’s query, it will identify a snippet from the main content of the page that better matches a searcher’s query.
It’s recommended that you keep your descriptions under 160 characters long, although once again, Google doesn’t use a character count, but rather has a fixed width per device.
Best practices for writing meta descriptions:
- Use compelling language by being authoritative and appealing to emotions
- Make them hyper-relevant to the content on each page
- Communicate value propositions and urgency with calls-to-action
- If you have certain landing pages that receive a decent amount of organic traffic, consider testing different variations
Meta tags (page titles & meta descriptions) are still very important to SEO in 2018, although for separate reasons. So important, in fact, that Ross Hudgens of Siege Media says that using the right title tag can improve your CTR by anywhere from 20-100%.
Stop thinking about page titles and meta descriptions as merely ranking factors in an algorithm and start thinking about them as a conversion factor for searchers. It is highly encouraged that you invest more time in writing beautiful, compelling page titles and meta descriptions, as well as optimizing any current web pages. Make sure you are giving searchers a good reason to click-through to your page.