A close up of meta code for a website.

Last week we discussed what pages are essential to any website regardless of its industry, as well as the important nature of the site’s header and footer. Today in our third and final installment of our “site essentials” blog series, we’re discussing two SEO practices that are absolutely essential but get easily overlooked: meta descriptions and alt tags.

What is a meta description…

When you search for a keyword or phrase in a search engine, that search engine provides you with a page of results. When you see these results listed, they each have an optimized title and a snippet of text that describes the content of that page. That snippet of text is called a meta description.

When you create a page or publish a post to your website, this snippet of text typically defaults to the first few lines of text of that page or post. But because the meta description helps the searcher decide whether or not that result is relevant to what they’re searching for (and more importantly, whether or not they want to click through to that page), it’s important to write your meta descriptions to entice and encourage the searcher to want to read more.

When writing meta descriptions, it’s best to aim for around 155-160 characters and to include one or two keywords. The text should be exciting and compelling, but most importantly, it should be valuable and informative. The reader should have a clear understanding of what your page or post contains, and interested enough to click through to read more.

Properly optimized meta descriptions increase clickthrough rates and visits from organic search by catching their attention, providing them with the right information at the right time. But the meta description doesn’t only display on SERPs—when your page or post is shared on social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, the snippet of text is also presented to viewers there to help drive more traffic.

What are alt tags…

As we’ve frequently discussed on our blog, SEO is vital to the success of any website. But if you’re optimizing your content, headers, subheaders, and meta descriptions for search engines but neglecting your images, you’re missing a very important step to SEO.

Depending on the keyword or phrase, a search engine may deliver just as many image results on a SERP as it does text-based results, so if you’re not properly optimizing your images, you’re missing out on valuable opportunities for visibility and traffic. This is where image alt tags come into play.

Whether its webpage text or a blog post, it’s likely that you have included at least one image to illustrate or compliment your content. If you’ve invested time (and possibly money) finding or creating eye-catching images, why leave them hidden in your post or webpage? When you optimize your images by writing the image alt tags (also known as alt text or alt descriptions), it turns your images into hyperlinked search results, creating another opportunity for organic traffic.

But that’s not the only benefit of alt tags/alt descriptions. This copy…

  1. Allows search engines to better crawl and rank your site
  2. Helps screen-reading tools describe the image to a visually impaired user
  3. Appears in place of the image on your page or post if the image fails to load on the user’s screen

Why do they matter…

Meta descriptions and alt tags are two simple but necessary SEO practices, but unfortunately they often get overlooked or forgotten. Taking the time to optimize your meta descriptions and your alt text will help increase your rankings with search engines and increase your chances of generating organic traffic on SERPs and social media platforms.

Neglecting to set your meta descriptions and alt text can result in a lower ranking from search engines, and can also cause you to miss out on valuable organic impressions and traffic, so it’s important to make sure you include these practices in your SEO efforts.

Cover all the SEO bases.

If you’re unsure if you’ve properly or fully optimized your site, contact us today to speak with one of our digital marketing experts. We will perform an audit on your site and check to see if there are any missing meta descriptions or alt tags that need to be created. We also offer an SEO package, if you’d prefer to leave your site’s optimization to a professional agency to make sure nothing gets overlooked.