Improve the click-through rates and the SEO of your website with optimized title tags and meta descriptions.

Title tags and meta descriptions are important elements of your website’s content. The title tag and the meta description tags should include keywords relevant to the content of the web page they describe. This helps Search Engines understand what the page is about and index your web pages accordingly for relevant keywords or keyword phrases. Learn more about title tags and meta descriptions.

What is a title tag?

The <title> tag defines the title of the document.The title element is required in all HTML/XHTML documents and is one of the key on-page SEO elements. It is a “meta” element, meaning that it gives information about the HTML/XHTML file, but does not appear on the page to users. However, this doesn’t mean it’s not seen by users; the title tag appears on the results pages just above the URL (see below) and also appears at the top of a browser. Moz.com, the largest SEO community in the world believes that it is the single most important on-page SEO element (behind overall content).

Titles give users a quick insight into the content of the web page and how it might be relevant to their query. It is often the primary piece of information with the meta description (see below) that is used by potential visitors to decide which search result to click on, so it’s important to use high-quality and meaningful titles when you optimize your web pages. Here are best practice guidelines for writing title tags:

  • Title tags generally should be less than 70 characters long so the whole tag fits on results pages when it is displayed and people can read it at a quick glance.
  • Every title tag on your website should be made unique with distinct, descriptive titles for every page on your site. The HTML suggestions page in Google Webmaster Tools lists missing or potentially problematic title tags.
  • Use keywords in title tags and place important keywords close to the front of the title tag. Search Engines will “bold” (or highlight) those terms in the search results when a user has performed a query with those terms.
  • Avoid keyword spamming. There is no reason to have the same words or phrases appear multiple times. Also, try to have a theme for each page so you’re not recycling the same keywords in multiple title tags (this runs the risk of cannibalization of search results – Google can be unsure of the best page to rank).
  • Google recommends titles include your brand so include your site name at the beginning or end of each page title, separated from the rest of the title with a delimiter such as a hyphen, colon, or pipe.

What is a meta description tag?

Matt Cutts, Google’s former head of Webspam, announced in 2009 that neither meta descriptions nor meta keywords factor into Google’s ranking algorithms for web search. However, he stresses that it is still important to write a meta description as Google will sometimes use the summary in search results snippets (located below the URL) if the Search Engine believes it is an accurate synopsis of the page.

Matt explains Google’s perspective on meta descriptions in greater detail in this video:

Accurate meta descriptions can also help improve your click-through rates along with relevant title tags. Here are best practice guidelines for writing meta descriptions.

  • Meta description tags generally should be approximately 150-160 characters long so the whole tag fits on Search Engine Results Pages when it is displayed and people can read it at a quick glance.
  • Ideally, every page on your site should have a unique meta description. Google suggests using site-level descriptions on the main home page or other aggregation pages, and use page-level descriptions everywhere else.
  • For a large site, creating unique meta descriptions may be time-consuming. Google suggests that at the least, create a summary for the critical URLs like your home page and popular pages. The HTML suggestions page in Webmaster Tools lists pages where Google has detected missing or problematic meta descriptions.
  • The meta description tag should ideally target a unique keyword for each web page but again avoid keyword spamming and have the keyword only appear once.
  • Descriptions are like a short sales pitch or summary for the page. Write keyword-rich descriptions that engage visitors and entice them to click-through to your website.
  • The meta description does not have to be a full sentence. It can include important facts relevant to potential visitors. For example, articles can list the author, date of publication, or by line information – just keep it within the character limit.

Writing title tags and meta descriptions for click through optimization

When tackling title tags and meta descriptions, the end user is always the most important factor – not the search engine. Including keywords in your titles and descriptions is important, but SEOs can take their titles and descriptions to the next level by considering these tags in the context of motivating a user to click, similar to a PPC ad. Here are a few quick tips on improving click-through rates with title tags and meta descriptions.

  • Include action verbs that encourage the user to act – “shop now,” “read more,” “find out secrets,” “book today,” “sign up for a free trial,” and more.
  • Call out value propositions, including things like “free,” “2-minute sign-up,” “voted easiest to use,” and more.
  • Experiment with capitalization to emphasize important words.
  • Use unique characters and punctuation: “~*~FREE~*~ Call today!!!”

These tips may seem too “spammy” or pitch-oriented, but the goal is to catch the eye of the user and improve interaction rates. Studies have shown that tweaking meta titles and descriptions to include these features not only improves click-through rates, but also search engine ranking position – Google takes notice and rewards sites that get higher engagement with better positions.

6 Reasons Online Advertising Campaigns Fail

Are you finding it hard to run a successful online advertising campaign for your business?   Are you unsure on how to improve it and make it profitable?

The majority of businesses stink when it comes to advertising their business.  Little thought and a lot of money is the usual advertising combination, leading to poor performing ad campaigns.  No wonder that so many businesses don't consider paid advertising as a good way to generate new business.

What if I told you that advertising works, specifically online advertising.  What if I told you that people grow and scale profitable businesses every day using nothing but paid advertising.

Online advertising works, it actually works very well if done right.  The problem is that you are doing it wrong.  If you tried to play the piano for 5 minutes and sucked at it, would you declare that pianos don't work?  Of course not, you just need to learn how to play the piano.

People often say that nobody pays attention to advertising, only organic search results.  Those people are wrong and missing the boat.  While the vast majority of people ignore ads when searching for information online, when they have a commercial intent (they want to buy something), they click on ads 2-1 over organic search results.  Why?  Because ads are often very targeted and show exactly what you want, where you may have to sift through lots of articles and junk to find what you want to buy in the organic search results.

People searching in Google with commercial intent click on paid ads 2-1 over organic search results – Wordstream study

If you are currently investing in online advertising and finding that it is not working for you, you need to examine the many parts involved in forming a successful ad campaign.  Below are 6 areas you need to examine to make sure you are doing them correctly.  Each part relies on the other, so getting one of them wrong can lead to the entire ad campaign falling apart on you.

Targeting is Wrong

Do you know what kind of customer you are trying to reach with your advertising?  How much time have you spent building out a specific customer profile you want to target with your advertising campaign?

Having a solid understanding of who you want to target is a pre-requisite for a successful advertising campaign.  Many businesses gloss over this crucial part and it almost always leads to a poor advertising campaign.

Before you begin any advertising campaign, figure out who you want to target and build out a specific profile of this person.  Once you have this information, then you will have a much better idea of how you will reach them, what you will say to them and what you plan on offering them.

The average person now spends more time online than with TV and all other media (newspapers, magazines, etc.) combined. – Business Bricks

Wrong Online Advertising Channels

Are you reaching the right people with the wrong online advertising channel?  Are you using Twitter ads when you really should be using Google Adwords?  At this point, you should have a clear understanding of who you want to target, which should make choosing a advertising channel easier.

  • If people actively search online for your type of product or service, then Google Adwords may be a good option for you.
  • If you want to get in front of a very specific audience, the Facebook Ads offers laser focused demographic and interest targeting options
  • If you are a BtoB company, then maybe LinkedIn Ads is a good choice for you
  • If visuals work well with your business, then Instagram Ads or Pinterest Ads may be good choices
  • If you want to reach a younger, more tech-oriented crowd, then Twitter Ads is a good choice to reach your audience

Once you know who you want to reach, finding a way to reach them becomes easier.

Budget Is Too Small

You need to spend enough money and generate enough traffic to your website in order to understand if your advertising campaign is working or not.  You can't throw $50 at an ad campaign and then decide it doesn't work if it doesn't generate any leads for you.  You need to have an understanding of how much click volume you will need to generate in order to get an idea on how an advertising campaign is working.

My rule of thumb, at a minimum, you need to generate at least 100 clicks to your website before you can even consider evaluating the effectiveness of an ad campaign.  In reality, that number should be much higher to get more accurate data.  So if clicks to your website are costing you $1 a click, you need to spend at least $100 to even begin to consider if it is working or not.

It also depends on what your offer is.  If you are trying to get people to schedule an appointment with you, then your conversion rates may be much lower (and you will need more clicks) then if you were offering a free report in exchange for an email address.

Another mistake businesses make is spreading their advertising budget across too many campaigns, never getting enough click volume in any one campaign to make an informed decision.   Give your ad campaigns a chance and let them run long enough so you can get the necessary data to make an informed decision.

Landing Page Not Converting

If you are reaching the right audience with the right marketing channel and still nothing is happening, then most likely the landing page you are sending people to is not converting for you.  Your landing page is your virtual salesperson, it needs to compel people to take the next desired action you have set out for them.

If your landing page is not converting, look at the following:

  • Is the message on your landing page compelling to the kind of people you are targeting with your ads?
  • Does the landing page message match the ad that you are running?
  • Are you adding supporting evidence like customer reviews and supporting facts/statistics to the page?
  • Do you have a clear call to action so people know what to do next?

One of the best things you can do to improve your conversions is to test your landing page.  Change the offer around, create more compelling headlines, offer a no questions asked money back guarantee.  The point is to try out many different things to see what combination works to create a high converting landing page.

Poor Offer

Are you making a compelling offer to people visiting your landing page?  You can't tell people to take action, you need to make your offer so compelling that they feel like they have to.  Just having a “call us” or “order today” call to action isn't enough, you need to show them how their life will be better with your product or service.  You need to explain to them the financial and time costs if they do not take action.

Your ad and landing page copy should follow the tried and true AIDA copywriting formula.

Attention – Get their attention, say something that will perk up their ears.

Interest – Keep them interested with interesting facts, figures and examples. Use stories, examples and case studies to make your point.

Desire – Make them really want to buy from you.  Show them how their life will be better with your product or service.

Action – Get them to take the action you want.  Lead them through the steps they need to take to become your customer.

Not Measuring Results

For every ad campaign that you run, you should know:

  • How much I spent on the campaign
  • How many clicks to my website it generated and what was the cost per click
  • How many leads/sales did it generate and what the cost was for each lead/sale
  • How much an average sale is for you business and what your customer lifetime value is

Once you know these numbers then you can start making really smart decisions on your advertising.  With these numbers, you will know how much your business can afford to spend to generate a lead/sale.  You can then track your ad campaigns to make sure they are you are withing these numbers.  Without these numbers, you will continue guessing and going with “gut feeling”, which are wrong most of the time when it comes to marketing effectiveness.

 

The best online advertising campaigns improve over time

You're most likely not going to hit a grand slam on your first ad campaign, the key is understanding the ingredients to a successful ad campaign and continually assessing and improving over time.  Eventually, you will know exactly how to reach your audience and the words and offers will get them to take action.  You just need to commit to getting better every time you run a new ad campaign.

Things To Do When You Get Stuck In Your Business

Have you ever been working on a project for your business and hit a point where you can't focus any longer?  Or maybe you hit a wall and you can't seem to get past it no matter how hard you try to push through.

Business owners have a lot on their plate.  They have to manage several roles simultaneously, and almost always have an underlying pressure to get things done…….because who else is going to do them?

If you keep pushing yourself, despite feelings of stress and frustration, eventually you are going to burn out.  This is common with business owners as they feel that constant pressure to keep get things done.

The problem is that it's not good for your health and it's not good for your business in the long run.

While dealing with a million things each day is part of being a business owner, and keeps things interesting, sometimes you need to hit the reset button in your brain so you can refocus and start over again.  Your brain is like a computer, over time a computer will build up a lot of extra files in its cache (temporary memory) and start to slow down.  The fix for this is to restart your computer and clear the cache so it can start over again with a clean slate.  Same with your brain.

So whenever I am working on a project and hit that mental wall, or get that general feeling like I am drowning in a sea of work, I do one of the following things below.  What I actually do depends on what I am working on and how I feel and one of the below things allows me to take a pause and reset myself so I can get back to work and be productive again.

 

Work In Shorter Time Chunks

Your brain can only stay focused for so long before it starts to get overworked, so working in shorter periods can help you stay productive over a longer period of time.  You probably heard of the Pomodoro Method, where you work on a project in short bursts of time, followed by short breaks.  It's a great way to get through a long work day and remain focused throughout that period.  You can learn more about the Pomodoro Method here.

I personally don't use a timer or app for this, when I plan out my work week I schedule everything in 1-hour chunks.  Once that hour is over, I take a break for 10-15 minutes before starting on the next hour.  Sometimes I go over the hour if I hit a groove and I am feeling productive, but I know from experience that my brain needs a break after about an hour.

 

Break Down Your Project Into Small Steps

If you are working on a bigger project, break the project down into smaller steps and then schedule those steps into your work flow.  So instead of having “create a Facebook ad” on your to-do list for the day, spend some time breaking down that project into smaller steps and work on them individually.  So for this example, you may break it down into

  • Build and save a target audience in Facebook to target with my ad
  • Gather images needed for ad
  • Write copy for ad
  • Upload and schedule ad

As you can see, each of these individual tasks are not that big of a deal, but when you leave it as, “create a Facebook Ad”, it may be overwhelming and leave you uncertain as to where to start.

I wrote an article about being more prodcutive with your marketing plan, the post has a link for some free planner pdf sheets you can use to break down your projects, you can read the article here.

 

Work on Another Project

If you feel like you are getting stuck on a project and can't seem to find your groove, temporarily shift to another project that may be better suited for you current state of mind.

I keep a folder on my desk with lots of ideas and projects I would love to work on.  Some of them are just ideas I've written down, others I have started working on and have a to-do list of things that need to be done to get that idea off the ground.  So when I get stuck on a current project and feel like I need to stop, I'll go through this folder and pick an idea that interests me and then work on that for an hour instead.

I feel like this kind fo refocusing gives my brain a rest on the current project and still allows me to remain productive.  The one thing I usually won't do is pick a project that requires similar brain power as the project I am taking a break on.  I'll usually choose something less brain intensive to give myself a mental break.

 

Do Something Mindless

If I feel like I need to just stop all work and take a break, I'll shift to doing something that requires almost no brain power.  One of my favorites is cleaning my office.  While I like to say I am productive and organized, I gradually let my office turn into a hot mess until it's time to organize it again.  I'll crank up the radio and spend 30 minutes sorting through old papers and organizing my desk and drawers so I can start fresh again with a neat office space.

The idea is to do something to take your mind off your current project and that doesn't require brain power.  One of my other favorites is keeping a game or two on my phone and play that for a little while as a way to relax and recharge my brain.

 

Do Something Physical

I think one of the many failings of the public school system here in America is limiting or removing altogether physical education during the school day and not realizing the correlation between physical activity and learning/mental focus.  What human being can sit still at a desk for 8 hours listening to people talk at them about stuff they aren't interested in?  That's a typical school day for millions of children every day.

Physical activity and mental focus go hand in hand, you can't sit at your desk all day and expect to remain mentally sharp.  Throughout the day I take short physical breaks in between working on projects.  This may be doing some simple breathing and stretching exercises, taking a short walk, or doing pushups in my office.  If I really need to expend energy, I'll go to the gym for 30 minutes and do a quick workout.

The idea is to get your body moving, blood flowing and to remove any built up stress/tension in your body.  Once I have done this, I feel like I can sit at my desk again and get back to work.

 

Meet or Talk to Someone

If I'm struggling to get a project completed or I feel stuck and don't know where to go next, I have a few friends and business colleagues I can either meet for a coffee or have a quick phone call with.  Being your own boss can be isolating at times so it's good to make a point to get out and speak to your peers every once and awhile.

I always feel refreshed and come back with some good ideas after spending time with fellow business owners.

 

Think & Plan

Many times when I get stuck or frustrated on a project, when I think about it I realize that it was due to a lack of planning.  Us business owners spend so much time doing stuff that we often fail to spend enough time planning stuff.

When I fill out my planner for the week, I fill it up with things that I need to do and goals I need to accomplish.  What I often forget to do is purposely block out time during the week to think and plan for my business.  So I now make a point to schedule thinking and planning sessions during the week, just like I do for everything else.  I also make a point to schedule in training/learning time so I'm always learning new skills.

 

Sleep On It

If you are getting frustrated with a project, consider stopping and sleeping on it.  Your brain is an intuitive computer and your sub-conscious can often create solutions for you if you let it.  Before going to bed think about the challenge you are having and ask yourself to come up with a solution to it before you go to bed.  Your subconscious mind will work to help you figure out the right way to move forward.

If you don't believe me on this, try it out for yourself.  You'll be amazed at what can happen when you trust your body to help you.

 

So how do you get unstuck?

These are the things I do when I hit a mental block, get frustrated with my work or am not sure where to go next.  The important thing to do is reset your brain, give it a rest and then be ready to jump back in and kick some ass.