Search and social have been converging for a while and the overlap will keep growing in coming years. With the advent of structured data, this integration becomes even more critical from and SEO point of view.
Some people are still stuck with the idea that meta data immediately and directly (it has indirect implications) improves the SEO score. However, this is far from the reality these days. Google and others don’t give direct SEO score for say “meta description” . However, meta description helps in making the first impression about the content in question. In case of meta description, it is shown in SERPs and can greatly affect the CTR on SERPs. To be honest, the purpose of SEO is not just to show up higher in SERPs but also to have a better CTR. Imagine a scenario where you show up first on SERP but the SERP result is not strong enough to get a click because it doesn’t make the first impression. This is an ideal scenario of SEO being done right but conversion being done poor. In long run because of high bounce rate and low CTR that result will drop in SERP leading to a futile SEO effort and a catatonic SEO!
Now that we have laid the foundation for the importance of metadata let’s get into the details of new metadata which have come into picture because of rise of social and structured content. If you have missed out why structured data is important Google’s hummingbird update might ring a bell.
Now let’s have a look at the list of metadata (old and new ones).
The good old obvious ones
Meta title/Meta Description
Meta title and page title can be different however in most cases they don’t need to be different. Title is one of the most important on-page SEO factors. Generally accepted limit for the page title is around 70 characters. However, Cyrus Shepard of SEOMofo tested that what matters more is the pixel length of the title. However, as a general guideline an optimal title for best SEO performance is around 70 characters. As a guideline, it’s also good to make sure the title is not too small and has important keywords at the beginning of the title.
For people who are obsessed with perfection the ideal bet would be to have meta title in the range of 63-68 characters.
The tool goes further to help you optimize your meta description too. My clients have often asked me why I am so persistent with the length of meta title and meta description, even if the SEO value offered by them is not ground breaking? The simple answer is to have a high CTR.
Let me explain, if your title is longer than the specified length, Google tends to add dots at the end of it, suggesting continuation which is often perceived as incomplete which then leads to reduced clicks.
Long titles and meta description
Proper title and meta description length
Same logic can be extended to meta description.
Google authorship is the way to associate published content to a specific author/publisher. It has been around for a while. However, it dominated the SERPs in the beginning of last year. It has connotation both from SEO point of view and CTR on SERPs. In order for Google authorship to be implemented for your published content the author is expected to have a Google+ profile. Once implemented it looks like this:
This tag is implemented so as to associate the author to a piece of content. More information on how to implement this can be found at Google’s Webmaster Support.
Rel-Publisher is more for business to claim the authorship of the content. This would need a Google plus profile for that business.
Google’s authorship add authenticity to the content creation and hence fits under the umbrella of “original unique content”. From CTR on SERPs point of view as well, the authorship results tend to get more clicks compared to the one’s without it.
However, Google has reduced the importance of Authorship tags as it was overused across it’s SERPs.
Social meta tags
Social media is great to share and discover new content and hence when creating content it’s important to make sure that it has the meta data associated to it in order to get the best CTR once the content is shared on social media.
OpenGraph tags by Facebook allows you to specify metadata in order to optimize the way the content is shared and displayed on Facebook’s timeline of the user. The other benefit of this is that using this metatags you can get some some great insights into data using Facebook insights. If you are not using Facebook’s OpenGraph, Facebook will default to the default metadata.
More information on Facebook OpenGraph metatags can be found on Facebook Developer center.
Twitter cards are the Twitter’s version of OpenGraph and allows you to achieve similar results while sharing stories on Twitter. They allow you to attach rich media experiences to Tweets about your content. More information about Twitter cards can be found at Twitter’s Documentation.
Twitter Card Analytics plays well with Twitter cards to give detail insight on how your content is being shared on Twitter.
All the above mentioned metatags go in the head section of the HTML page. However, schema.org allows you to markup specific sections of the page based on the attribute of the content. This also allows to show the page content in SERPs based on the attribute in question. It can offer improved CTR and reduced bounce rate from SERP.
For example if you are reviewing a product and want it to appear on SERP as a review, you should be using the Schema Review markup. When implemented properly the outcome would look like this:
The complete collection of different types of schema markup can be found at schema.org
Rel-canonical tags are important if you are in the business of publishing duplicate content or are trying to avoid SERP cannibalization or are looking to move the link equity of one page to another. Google has an extensive documentation on rel-canonicalization.
Once implemented you can check the markup of your content using Google’s Structured data testing tool.