James Schramko teaches Tim Reid how to tune up his Meta data properly-
Topics discussed in the podcast:
- Why you need to have your main keywords in the title
- What are good headlines that will entice a reader to click through
- How to change the permalink to help the search engines find the page
- Why you should limit your keywords to avoid being spammy
- How to make your Meta description compelling to the audience
- Why you’ll get better results when you name your images
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Tim: Welcome back listeners to FreedomOcean, the podcast that aims to make your online marketing trip a pleasant one. Full of creating a business around exactly what you want to do with your life and not what your business wants to do with your life. I’m one of your hosts Timbo Reid, that right there is James Schramko. Good day mate!
James: Timbo… how are you?
Tim: Absolutely on fire mate. I’m excited by this episode. It’s a bit different to the last one where we went deep into some of the insights and learnings that you took from travelling around Europe for 7 weeks with your family. Today we’re going to get very specific, very rational. Our challenge will be to inject a laugh into this episode.
James: Let’s do it!
Tim: Okay. So here’s the thing. I find, of recent times I’ve been writing blog posts in which I cover more than one marketing-related topic for small business. In fact, I’ve called these blog posts “A Letter to my Listeners.” And in it, I might cover what the most recent episode of Small Business Big Marketing was about. I might share a productivity tool of the week. I might share a marketing tip of the week. I might share a funny marketing story that I’ve observed. I’m covering a lot of ground right? When I go in to post that and complete the Meta data on that blog post, I completely have a meltdown as to what to focus on, and what I mean by that is like the Meta data being the headline, what should the permalink be, what’s the keyword that I should be chasing, what’s the SEO title and what’s the Meta description. What are your thoughts mate on how to best focus that meta data?
James: Okay, well step one is, if it’s too technical for your average bear, they’re best to pretty much ignore it and just write the best, most valuable post that you can and don’t worry too much about it.
Tim: Don’t worry about the Meta data?
James: You can worry about it but it’s not life or death because what happens is, the content that’s on the page is still going to get spidered, you know, picked up by Google, put in the index. And it will still work for you anyway. The headline and Meta data is just a way to assist it a little bit. Okay, so it doesn’t mean if you don’t do it that nothing will happen. Just putting good words on the page, if they’re original words, will automatically pick up what we call “long tail traffic“. So the phrases on the page will get indexed and if it’s great value and people are sharing it and liking it and revisiting it and clicking through from other pages to it and stuff, then it will actually get noticed. But there are some things you can do to tune it up. So why don’t you step me through each section there and I’ll tell you what to do.
Tim: Okay, we’ll start with headline. We’ll go in order of how it appears in WordPress.
James: Okay, so the headline should be the most compelling headline that will cause a reader to read the article.
Tim: I’ve done two things of recent times. I’ll go back a step just to give listeners a sense of what the actual problem. So, well I supposed I’d summarize it best, let me just cover a lot of topics into one. So, I’ve done two headlines of recent times. One is “A Letter to My Listeners” and just giving it a number, #3, #4, #5, or I’ve actually gone and taken 3 or 4 or 5 keywords and just put them in the headline, you know, I might be talking productivity tool, awards…
James: Well there’s no need to do that. Put the one that’s best for the readers. Because, with WordPress, you can actually change the way that it appears to the search engine versus what it’s appearing for the readers. So, you can change the page title.
Tim: Alright, so would you stick with “A Letter to My Listeners” is what the readers should see?
Tim: But what the search engine should see would be something else? Where do you complete that?
James: Okay, so which headline do you think the readers will most engage with?
Tim: Don’t really know the answer to that but I feel like “A Letter to My Listeners” is personal.
James: I think… I feel as well and I don’t know, but I suspect that that will build up. It’s like on my subject lines for emails. I usually put my business name because readers know that and they’re used to it.
Tim: Okay, so we go with that for the reader. What do you go with the search engine?
James: Yup. So that‘s what will show and that’s what the post’s headline will look like. But we can actually change what shows up in the page title and also the permalink, so that they can be completely different.
James: Now I often do this. If I’m going to do a product review, I might put the headline might be “How to Increase Your Optins” and then the page title and the permalink might be “LeadPlayer Review.”
Tim: Yeah, Okay I got you. I’m just pulling up the back end of a WordPress blog now. Keep going…
James: If have a look into WordPress, yeah we’ll do this like a….we’ll do it like a support “Hello Tim! Can you see the screen?” Okay…just kidding.
Tim: Yeah, where do you put the…so in terms of headline, that’s what the reader sees.
James: First thing under the post. Yeah, you put the post headline where the big box. That should be the most compelling thing for readers. And then underneath that you have your permalink and you have the ability to edit that.
Tim: And the permalink is still a big part of the Google algorithm? Will that be fair to say?
James: Yeah, I think the permalink, page naming and page title is still something that helps Google understand what the page is about. So, if in your case you’re having, “Letter to Listener #1” but the Letter to Listener is saying, if you felt that you really want it to be ranking for Evernote or something, if you’re talking about productivity. Then the permalink you might change that to “evernote-productivity-tips.”
Tim: Yeah, right.
James: But you put hyphens.
Tim: So the five of the five different topics I cover in that Letter to My Listeners, the idea would be to pull out the one, the topic that would resonate most with my listeners and that I want to be found for.
James: The one that you want to be found for is probably the ideal one and you don’t want to try and stick five in there of course. But you know, I say that because I know that some people will try and do that and that’s called keyword stuffing. And it’s very spammy and not recommended at all. You might actually change the permalink to; you could change it to “listener-letter-evernote-tips.”
Tim: Why would I put listener letter in there at all?
James: You don’t have to. But then, it’s not looking very spammy that way that’s all.
Tim: What I’ve been doing of recent posts is calling it smallbusinessbigmarketing.com/marketing-blog-‘whatever number it is’.
James: Right. So that’s not really going to pick up much other than marketing, so if you vary this you’re going to get more chances at ranking. Because you want to make as many unique pages as you can on your website because each one is a front door for your website.
James: So yeah, on mine, we will pick the most appropriate. If we have a long headline, you don’t want the whole thing. You actually want the permalink to be a bit shorter. You can actually have them just being too long. For people who don’t know what we’re talking about, this is what shows up in the browser bar. So you want to keep it a reasonable length. If you had Listener Letter #1 and it was about productivity tips with evernote, you probably change your permalink to “evernote-productivity-tips.” That would be a perfect permalink. Then down underneath the post from most of your themes, or SEO plugins, it’s going to vary depending on what your setup is.
Tim: I’m using Yoast, it asks for “Focus Keyword” “SEO Title” and “Meta Description.”
James: A lot of them even like Thesis will have a custom document title, custom post Meta description, and the keywords. Almost all of them will have this option. For the title, that’s what shows up in the very top of the browser and that is one of the most important on-page drivers. Aside from the content, the title is really good to put a keyword there. So that’s, again, you’d put something like “Evernote Productivity Tips for Marketers”, something like that.
Tim: Yup. And I also noticed that whatever you put in SEO title is generally what is populated when you wack it on Facebook or Twitter.
James: That’s right. And also when you search for it, that’s usually what Google will pick up as the title for it and it will be bolded if they just search for that. So if someone is searching for “Evernote tips” and that’s your title or it’s in your description, that should be bolded; because it’s more relevant. So this is all about relevancy. And then the next thing is your meta description. And this is really important. This one, you want to make a sales hook. You want it to be compelling. Well, if someone searches for “Evernote Productivity Tips” in Google and your page comes up on the first page and it’s sort of sitting there in the top 4 or 5 results, this is what you see. This is the words that you see, in most cases. Sometimes others choose whatever they want. But in most cases, they’ll take your description. So this is where you want to out-do the others on the page. This is where you could put something like: “Think you know all about Evernote? Chances are, you only know half the story…”
James: Got it? So, you’ve put Evernote in there once. You might put productivity in there. But definitely mix up the…mix it up from the title and the permalink. You don’t want all the same. That looks really spammy.
Tim: So, your meta description is basically those two lines of gray copy that appear under your….
James: Under the title.
Tim: Go on.
James: When you see a Google result, generally you see the title, that will be the headline. And then, you’ll have the description as the two lines underneath it.
Tim: And separated by the permalink.
James: Yeah. So you want it to be compelling. You need to encourage the click. That’s the point of this description. It’s to help people understand what this page is about but also to make it really compelling.
Tim: Such important stuff this is James and that’s why we’re dedicating this very short episode of FreedomOcean to it. I just can’t always think, you know, these, the majority of small businesses out there just so unaware of such simple, powerful information.
James: Well, you know, this is one of the things, this is not a loophole or a shortcut, this is just good practice for on-page content. You know, when there’s 3.3 billion searches a day on Google, you might as well dress up your content with just this little extra two or three things that are going to make a massive difference compared to everyone else’s WordPress posts. I mean, majority of people are still just putting, you know, P = 746, so you have a big advantage over anyone who doesn’t do this by just automatically making it your habit. So my team automatically make this the habit to put in the description. So the most important elements, just to recap here, to make sure that your post’s headline is one that is going to be attractive for the reader; the permalink is going to be reasonably short and clear about what the page is and it might include a keyword; if you need to change the title from what the headline is, because most posts are going to pick up the headline as the title, then put your keyword as a title and make it a natural-looking title, so not spammy titles, not like “Evernote-productivity-tips-whatever” . You’ve got to make a natural word. Okay, you don’t want to use too many characters. I think you’ll want to keep it at reasonable length. You don’t want to go too long. The common error for SEO is people trying to overdo it. Don’t overcook it. Just be subtle. You need subtle. So that’s where your custom document title can be completely different to the blog post title and the custom title is the one that will show for search engines and the post title is what’s going to show on the page for the humans. And, that’s why they give you the ability to override it. It’s not a bad thing. Then, your custom posts should really pull someone in to the post if they were to see it on the first page of Google. And then the meta keywords, that’s sort of optional. I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Definitely don’t fill it with two hundred keywords, please!
Tim: I’m going to meta keyword. I’m going to focus keyword field.
James: Well, that might be a similar thing but this is where people just go overboard. And nine times out of ten, when we have a “problem customer” in our SEO business, they’ve overcooked it.
Tim: They’ve stuffed it, literally.
James: They’ve overcooked the links. They’ve stuffed it with keywords and they basically just over optimize. It’s very common. So, I don’t think we even put a meta keyword into our thing. We let it be driven from the title and the description and the on-page content.
James: There is another thing we might as well talk about which is very related to this. It’s when you put images on your post.
James: Make sure you name the image whatever the image is.
Tim: Absolutely! You know, one of the big forgotten lessons.
James: Well, you know, people upload picture 17564…
James: You know, they’re not giving themselves a chance. It’s better to say “tim-reid-monaco”, you know? And if that’s Tim Reid in Monaco at the Grand Prix, then that would be a relevant picture. It would probably come up for a search for “Tim Reid” and everyone is happy.
Tim: Yeah, that’s a good point. Very good point
James: So, really the big point is do not try and trick Google. Be natural. Be real. Make it for humans and the bits that you’re manipulating here on the page for Google is merely to help them understand what your content is about. That’s why you can change these things. Help them understand what your page is about and help a reader understand what it’s about.
Tim: Yup. Like naming a jumper mate when you’re in the playground at school.
Tim: People know whose it is. Hey, thanks mate! Listeners, FreedomOcean.com is where you can find out more about us. Next episode, James and I are going to tackle the big question of whether SEO is dead as we know it. Until then, happy marketing! Happy online marketing!
James: Gosh! If it is, Tim, we just wasted our episode if it’s dead.
Tim: Well, maybe we did, maybe we didn’t. You have to wait.
James: The suspense, it’s killing me.
Tim: See you mate!
James: See you!