3 SEO plugins: More traffic with custom titles and individual descriptions

Abstract: SEO: SERP CTR optimization + three plugins for WordPress.

How-To get a nice click through rate (CTR) on search engine result pages (SERPs) and how to achieve a better listing. This article is meant for everybody who likes to optimize his website/blog for better search engine results. Additionally I will list three plugins for WordPress to achieve that goal. Senior SEO hobbyists may skip this article 🙂

I will explain those SEO basics on a more general level and not specifically for one platform only.

Individual page titles, meta descriptions and meta keywords

From my previous comment about page dependent header meta description:

The whole subject with descriptions showing up in SERPs is IMPORTANT for every single URL on a site. In my experience it is one of the biggest SEO and CTR success stories if you are able to create a strong individual description and title for every single page.

The goal is to have individual meta descriptions and page titles for all pages including tag search result pages, full text search result pages and category lists. Advanced feature: Use search variables to trigger Amazon searches (Examples: Tag video, Search Hamburg).

What the heck am I talking about?

I am talking about some SEO basics which make the difference between being found AND clicked or not. Being found is one thing but Joe Searcher still has to get the motivation to click on your link. A nice description on SERPs is the key factor for a good CTR. (Related: How do I change my site’s title and description in SERPs?)

Three items controllable by the webmaster have to be optimized:

  1. Page title (most important)
  2. Meta description (important for a good CTR)
  3. Meta keywords (Well, to be ignored but easy to integrate)

Note: I don’t talk about the clean URL scheme but in case you need advice: 11 Best Practices for URLs.

Page Title

The page title is the fat eye catcher on Google. Technically we are talking about the ... part in your HTML header. Very simple and very important is the right order and length. The title has to be as short as possible, must be descriptive (tell the whole story) and may have a short branding item at the end (i.e. your sitename). Please don’t list keywords except for homepage and list pages!

Order: Article title always first!!!

Some recommended articles on article titles and why they are so super important. Skip this if you are fine with your article titles (reused list from Header titles optimize AdSense output):

  • Killer Blog Titles
  • Blog Titles are Ads (for your blog)
  • Managing Titles and Paths For Traffic

In short: Before publishing your article double and triple check your article titles!

Meta Description

The individual meta description for every URL on your website is the 2nd killer CTR factor. Technically it is the part in your HTML header. The meta description must be descriptive and keyword rich to show up in SERPs. A short branding item at the end (i.e. your sitename) is only allowed if it adds keyword density. If not don’t add your brand.

A fitting meta description will show up in SERPs below the catchy article title and give extra information like an excerpt of the page.

Wikipedia is explaining it pretty nice:

The description attribute provides a concise explanation of a web page’s content. This allows the webpage authors to give a more meaningful description for listings than might be displayed if the search engine was to automatically create its own description based on the page content. The description is often, but not always, displayed on search engine results pages, so it can impact click-through rates. Industry commentators have suggested that major search engines also consider keywords located in the description attribute when ranking pages. W3C doesn’t specify the size of this description meta tag, but almost all search engines recommend it to be shorter than 200 characters of plain text

Order is important. Content is more important. Keyword density decides if the meta description is shown on SERPs.

I am using the “title, keywords, brand” order. Experiments have shown on my site that using automatic excerpts result in free fall incoming SERP traffic horror (>50%). If you have the chance to fill your meta descriptions from variables instead of using auto excerpts I can only recommend to do so!

Repeating the title does not hurt because the font format is different. Using a keyword list is fine because the found keywords are highlighted and signal strong relevance. Again: If your brand does not add keyword density then don’t use it.

A sample How-To for Textpattern lovers:
Trick: Textpattern with page dependent header meta description

Example: Google search for Fischmarkt Webcam. Even if not #1 the fat keywords make “Sturmflut Hamburg: Webcam am Fischmarkt © Hamburg St. Georg …” a pretty impressive #4 supported by the tag page on #5 (on my German SERP).

Meta Keywords

The meta keywords are no CTR or SEO factor at all. But having that tag in the header of your HTML doesn’t hurt. Wikipedia again very nice:

By late 1997, however, search engine providers realized that information stored in meta elements, especially the keyword attribute, was often unreliable and misleading, and at worst, used to draw users into spam sites. (Unscrupulous webmasters could easily place false keywords into their meta elements in order to draw people to their site.)

Search engines began dropping support for metadata provided by the meta element in 1998, and by the early 2000s, most search engines had veered completely away from reliance on meta elements, and in July 2002 AltaVista, one of the last major search engines to still offer support, finally stopped considering them.

No consensus exist whether or not the keywords attribute has any impact on ranking at any of the major search engine today. It is speculated that it does, if the keywords used in the meta can also be found in the page copy itself. 37 leaders in search engine optimization concluded in April 2007 that the relevance of having your keywords in the meta-attribute keywords is little to none.

Nothing to add! But as it is so easy to add the keywords from your articles to the page HTML header why not do it anyway?

Three WordPress plugins

I have found three plugins for WordPress which can do those on page optimizations. No order intended!

  • SEO Title Tag 2.n – A WordPress Plugin for SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • All in One SEO Pack – Automatic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) out of the box for your wordpress blog …
  • wpSEO verleiht WordPress Flügel. “Wer es gleich richtig machen will, greift zu wpSEO.” (Dr. Web Magazin)

SEO Title Tag is specialized to create customized page titles. This is done by hand. From the SEO point of view this is the best possibility but, well, it takes some time. It looks like a beautiful tool to tweak more corporate content. The screenshots show good examples. The support of ‘mass editing of meta descriptions’ is on the To-Do list (with a question mark).

All in One SEO Pack is the most mentioned plugin for automatic search engine optimization (SEO) with WordPattern. In general this is the #1 Volkswagen Beatle for WP SEO.

wpSEO is from Germany and offers a huge load of fine SEO tuning possibilities for a WP installation. The page and the whole documentation on the website is in German (Try Google: +wpSEO english documentation. From a look at the wpSEO feature list this plugin seems to offer most of the functions I would love to have for advanced SEO settings.

At the moment wpSEO doesn’t provide a documentation in English (…). However, you can be sure that you won’t really need a step-by-step-tutorial. wpSEO is free, simple and self-explanatory.

Compared to Optimal Title and Head META Description, wpSEO is a simple and more comprehensive solution you can use to take care of SEO optimization.

Source: wpSEO: More SEO for WordPress pretty fresh from smashingmagazine.com.

Advanced HTML: Use the mentioned variables in HTML comments to structure your source code and do some ‘below the hood’ SEO for your on page keyword density.

Example: Check the source code of this article to find nice individual meta descriptions and keywords (Example Texas Legislation Video).

And the winner is?

Well, I am using Textpattern, I am German and I would use wpSEO if I would use WordPress. The reason (again): “If you have the chance to fill your meta descriptions from variables instead of using auto excerpts I can only recommend to do so!”

The world is still waiting for a WordPatternPal (WordPress plugins + Textpattern CMS + Drupal community). I hope this article is useful for all people tweaking their blog.

What do you think?

2 thoughts on “3 SEO plugins: More traffic with custom titles and individual descriptions

  1. Yep, I know that they make a difference. Not using them via one of the ‘shoot and forget’ solutions is a big mistake.

  2. Thanks for reminding us about meta description tags. They are underrated and not mentioned often even though they can play a big part in click through rates on the search engine results pages.

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