Facebook Marketing – How To Make It Work For Your Business

Still think Facebook is a social site only, and that it can have little benefit to your business?

If so, you’re missing a huge opportunity.  Facebook can help you reach all the people who matter most to your business – and make them your customers.

Why Facebook?

Through what other media channel can your business reach over 1.5 billion people, target exactly the demographic you wish, and give you direct communication with your customers?

This is why any business – big or small – should make Facebook marketing part of their business plan. It’s a great opportunity for your company to make online sales, get a following around a brand, create a platform where customers can discuss their products and, when done successfully, let people spread the word for you about your qualities.

As one Facebook advertiser said in recent interview:

“A large part of companies’ potential customers are there. Therefore, in my opinion, all companies should have a Facebook page where they can interact with their customers … No other advertising channel, at least where you can communicate, can compete with the numbers  available.”

Online Sales vs. Attracting Likes

When creating a Facebook business strategy, it’s important to think through exactly what you want to achieve. Is your goal to make ads and drive traffic to your website – perhaps a web shop where visitors can make a purchase – or do you want to drive traffic to a Facebook fan page where visitors can “like” what you do?

If used effectively, most businesses will benefit from both, so a combination is almost always the best choice. Just make sure your primary reasons for being on Facebook are clear in your head before you start your efforts.

Seven Steps in a Simple And Effective Facebook strategy

  1. Set up a Facebook Business Page and – most importantly – keep it up to date, which means making it an active part of your day-to-day marketing.  Read how to do it here.
  2. Create a small number of introductory posts profiling the benefits of your company.  Read how to do it here.
  3. Invite your initial audience to ‘like’ your business page using your existing contact lists.  This means using your LinkedIn contacts, your Constant Contact or Mail Chimp lists, and even your personal contacts – anywhere you have email addresses and names – to invite them to like your business page.  Facebook has tools to help you do this.
  4. Start doing one or two small informative posts – not selling, informing – on a bi-weekly basis.  Read how to do it here.
  5. Advertise on Facebook – yes, selling – with a small reasonable budget.  As little as 10 dollars or 10 pounds per day, for short focused time periods, can achieve remarkable results.  Read how to do it here.
  6. Measure and Adjust. The basic rule of marketing: measure your results, and adjust your tactics, based on those results.
  7. Keep up to date on Facebook policy changes – they can dramatically affect your results.  Facebook changes all the time – make sure your marketing does also.

Interested in more information on Facebook Marketing?

 

Facebook Business Page – How To Set It Up Correctly

Your Facebook Business Page profiles your business on Facebook, and is an absolute requirement for any company who wants to advertise or promote their business on Facebook.

You may need the help of your website developer or support person to build your page, or you may want to try it yourself.  You can also use someone with Facebook marketing experience to build your page for you. No matter which option you chose, remember that this page represents your business, so give it the same attention that you give your website.

Before you can create a Facebook Business Page, you need a Facebook Personal Page.

This may seem a bit odd to you at first, but remember that Facebook was initially a social media forum, and they want to keep that focus, even while they use it to generate money – and help you generate income – from business use of their platform.

From a practical perspective, you need to be on Facebook personally – and regularly – to really understand how it works.  Everything you do with your Facebook business page is oriented around personal Facebook users, and if you are not a personal user, you’ll have no way of understanding how to use it properly.  Even if you are using other people to do all your Facebook work, they’ll need you to understand how it works to be able to effectively communicate with you.  So get on now if you are not currently subscribed, and learn how it works.

Once you subscribe, your personal page gives you the option to create a business page.  Make sure you do this on a laptop or desktop computer – an IPad or Phone won’t work to create the new page.  Using the drop-down arrow on the top banner of your personal page, you’ll find a Create Page option.  This will step you through the process to build your business page.  It is quite a complex process, but there are numerous guides on the Internet to help you do this, so use them.  Or take the better approach, and ask a Facebook expert to do it for you.  You’ll save hours of your personal time and get a better business presence created.

Once created, your business page will not connect in any way to your personal page – unless you decide there is a good reason for it to do so, in which case you’ll use a business post to link back to your personal page.

Facebook Controls Your Facebook Business Page Structure

Unlike your website, Facebook imposes structure and content restrictions on your Facebook Business Page.  It will help you understand this better if you are looking at a Facebook Business Page, so use ours as an example while you are reading this:

https://www.facebook.com/visualsoftwaresystems

Your Facebook Business Page consists of several primary elements.

  • Your Facebook Page Name.  When someone accesses your page,  you want them to do so with your page name, like this:
    https://www.facebook.com/yourbusinesspagename.
    Just like your website URL, this name must be unique to you, so claiming yours is a very important first step.  Building your business page claims that name for you.
  • Your Post Image.  A small icon-like image that appears to on the bottom left and that will appear with all your posts
  • Your Primary Identity Image.  A large image that forms the primary impression when someone sees your page.  Overlayed on this image may be your company name, your type of business, and various buttons, including the ‘Like’ button.
  • Your Business Profile Information. A variety of descriptive information that profiles your business, the products and services you offer, and the markets you serve.
  • Supporting Images.  Various images that you may have posted to your business page
  • Business Timeline Posts.  A timeline that shows posts you have made to your business page

Summary

Building your Facebook Business Page is the important first step for your Facebook marketing.  Make sure it’s done correctly, and that your business is properly represented.

Interested in more information about setting up your Facebook Business Page?

 

Facebook Business Posts – Inform, Don’t Sell

Posts to your Facebook business page keep people returning.   How informative you make your posts determines how many times they’ll get shared (their ultimate “reach”), and, if done properly, will provide a steady inflow of new, interested people who will ‘like’ your page and expand your audience.

How Facebook Marketing Has Changed

Your Facebook marketing strategy always starts with your Facebook Business Page, then building an audience who “likes” your page.   Unlike a Facebook personal page, where you build relationships by inviting people to be your friends, or responding to their friend requests, Business Page audiences are built from anyone “liking” your page, not just people who are your friends.  Once they like it, you have access to them for a variety of purposes in a variety of ways.  Building your audience, however, requires a good understanding of how Facebook views your business page, and what they allow you to do with it.

Your new posts aren’t automatically seen on the timeline of everyone who’s ‘liked’ your business page.

In the early Facebook days, any post you made to your business page would be seen on the timeline of anyone who had liked your business page.  Make a post, everyone sees it – a simple marketing strategy – and one that was widely abused.   The ‘like’ audience became solely a target for promotion, instead of “friends of our business”, as they should be. Recent Facebook changes make self promotion no longer possible – in fact, if you aren’t careful, your posts might not be seen on any of your friends’ timelines.

Facebook has a ‘guideline’ – albeit changing all the time – that no more than 20% of posts on any personal timeline should come from a business post.  Your business posts are competing for that 20% space with all other businesses that your business friend has ‘liked’.  Once that space is filled, your post won’t be seen on their page.

A fact – even good business page posts now only end up on about 20-25% of your “liked” audiences timeline – and, if you’re not careful, that can easily become 0%.

Inform, Inform, Inform…

People “like” your business page because they like your business and what it does. Your business posts should be focused on topics of interest to your audience – if you are in the coffee business, talk about coffee – where it comes from, how it gets to you, and how to find the type of coffee you like. If you’re in the landscaping business, talk to them about soil, lawn care, and feeding of the plants they currently have.  They’ll be interested in what you say, and come back to you when they want to buy something.

Be Consistent

Being consistent in the quality and types of posts you create can help people know what kinds of messages to expect from you and how they tie into your business.  A content calendar can help you plan ahead and make sure posts use a similar message each time. You can:

  • Schedule posts for when most of your audience is online
  • Highlight days for major business events or product news
  • Create targeted messages that tell your story

Target your Posts – but only if you have a big enough audience

Depending on your goals, you may want to post something that will interest people in specific ages, genders or more. Most people don’t know that you can narrow the audience for any post:

  • At the top of your Page click Settings, then click News Feed Audience and Visibility for Posts
  • Create a new post on your Page
  • When done, select the target icon in the bottom left corner and click Add Targeting
  • Target based on gender, interests, age, location and more. As you refine your targeting, you’ll see how many people your post could potentially reach.
  • Click Post

Keep post images and text fresh

The more recent your posts, the more interesting people will find them. To keep your posts interesting:

  • Post timely content. For example, if an important holiday has just passed, it’s time to post about the next holiday or event.
  • Test which posts work best and review their performance.
  • Create different posts with the same objective, but switch the photos and copy.
  • Respond quickly to comments on your posts to let fans know you’re listening to feedback.

Don’t Ever Try to Advertise in a Business Post

You want to advertise, so do it with a Facebook Ad, not a business post. Read how here. Ads can also be targeted to people who have liked your business page, but posts on your business page are no place for ads. Facebook will just not show them, and they won’t be seen.

Interested in more information about Facebook Marketing?

 

Facebook Advertising – Get Targeted New Leads Today

Advertising on Facebook opens up enormous opportunities to connect with people who otherwise might know nothing about your company. While other mediums can be quite expensive, Facebook offers opportunities for every business, no matter what your size.  Here are a few reasons you should be doing it.

Your Audience is On Facebook

Facebook has a user base of over 1.49 billion members worldwide, and generates over 22 billion ad clicks per year, Facebook is providing businesses with the largest advertising opportunity since Search.

Facebook Advertising is Cheap

Facebook ads tend to cost a fraction of what other online marketing channels cost. For example, one Facebook marketing campaign for a small business was able to generate 200 new people who visited their site with just $5 per day for two weeks.

If you’re strapped for cash, just ensure that you set reasonable daily Facebook budgets so you don’t exceed what you’re able to spend. It’s not a question of how much Facebook costs, but how far your money will go. If you go into Facebook advertising with a clear focus and follow a simple strategy, the cost-efficiency of the platform will astound you.

The Targeting Capabilities of Facebook Are Exceptional

The level of granularity you can get with Facebook targeting is amazing. Whether it be by behaviors, interests, demographics, connections, age ranges, languages, or locations, you can dig pretty deep with these targeting capabilities and layer them upon each other to ensure you’re getting rid of any questionable, out-of-market clickers.

Facebook Is Effective to Push On-the-Fence Leads Down the Lead Funnel

Re-marketing is particularly effective and works wonders for marketers because it targets an audience that has already visited your site, and therefore is more likely to be interested in your products or offerings.

Facebook Allows You to Find New Qualified Leads Easily

Lookalike audiences allow you to reach NEW people who are similar to your current audience and therefore likely to be interested in your business. Install data from mobile apps, or simply from fans of your Facebook page. You can also further define the size and targeting options to ensure your lookalike audience is an accurate reflection of your target buyers.

What Type of Ads Are Available?

You have several options – each of which has unique benefits:

  • Singles Ads with one image.
  • Single Ads with a Carousel of rotating images – up to five.
  • Video Ads.

The positioning of your ad also offers several options:

  • Ads that appear in people’s timelines, just like posts from their friends.
  • Ads that appear on mobile phones, in Browsers, or both.

All have pluses and minuses, but all can be effective.  Facebook does a significant amount of policing, to ensure their users aren’t bombarded with bad ads, but for a few Dollars, Pounds, or Euros per day, you can get your message out very effectively to your specific target audiences.  It can be a gold mine for your business.

Should Your Ad Link to Your Website or to Your Facebook Business Page?

Good question.  The answer can be either – depending on the purpose of your ad.  The most effective campaigns will use a link to a specific landing page on your website that matches the ad offer – a discount, special offer, or promotion.  Some guidelines are:

  • use attractive pictures that are appropriate for the offer.  Faces consistently get better response – but it all depends on the offer.  Talk with us about it – we know all the latest statistics.
  • use good concise copy so people can understand your offer.  Less is always better – fewer words get better results.
  • always have a separate landing page for your ad.  It’s easier to use a current website page, but it never works as well.  Plus a separate page allows you to have “Facebook Only” offers.
  • reinforce your ad copy and pictures on your landing page.  This makes people feel comfortable that you are really offering what your ad said you were.
  • make it simple for people to respond on your website landing page.  You should never ask for more than a name, email address, and/or phone number.  And ask for it on the same page as the offer, at the top right or center.

How well you combine these elements will make or break your campaign.

How Do You Place Your First Facebook Ad?

It’s easy to get started, as long as you have someone available who is familiar with Facebook who can help you navigate the steps.  There are lots of options, and targeting requires some expertise.  There are also browser specific considerations, and Facebook is constantly updating their advertising tools.  But it doesn’t take a lot, and the return can be exceptional.

If you are technically inclined, and can work with images or videos, you can make your way through the tools yourself.  You’ll also need some ad copy skills, since Facebook limits the amount of type of text you can use.

Or, of course, we are always here to help you.  We can have your ads running in as quickly as a week.

Need More Information?

Why Your WordPress Website Needs Support and Protection

WordPress is the largest and most successful content management system available today.  In 2003, WordPress was just a single bit of code used by a handful of people for blogging. Now it’s the largest website building tool in the world.

WordPress is used to build websites for one simple reason:  it saves an extraordinary amount of time and money to develop a highly functional and effective website for your business.

What Does Effective Support and Protection Include?

Just like your phone system, air conditioning, heating, or your car, your website needs professional support.  A WordPress professional will understand the components of your site, and how all the pieces fit together.  They’ll also understand the steps required to protect your site, including:

  • Keeping your WordPress system up to date with the latest version.
  • Keeping your WordPress Plug-ins up to date and operating properly.
  • Putting active Intrusion Monitors on your site to detect and block intrusion attempts before they infect your site, and monitoring these daily.
  • Monitoring your site daily, to make sure it is operating properly, and making sure invalid links don’t creep into your website pages.
  • Making sure your site is securely backed up on a daily basis to an offsite location, so it can be recovered or moved quickly if it does get hacked or your web server crashes.

There are Costs – But They’re Small in Comparison

Expect to spend a small amount of money each month for effective support and protection – it’s the best money you’ll ever spend.

Interested in more information about support for your WordPress website?

Hack Attempts – Why Do They Happen and Why Should You Care

Unfortunately, there are those who enter the WordPress community with criminal intent. Thousands of WordPress websites are hacked every day, and not just minor ones.

In fact, people are trying to break into your WordPress website right now, as you read this article. This comes as a shock to some, because it’s easy to be unaware of what’s going on, until it’s too late.

Why do hackers want to attack your website?

Motives vary, and there are plenty of people who think that destroying things is fun. However, the main motive is a predictable one: profit. There is money to be made.

This at first seems surprising: after all, where’s the money to be made in your company’s website? If you don’t sell things on your website, how can it profit anyone else? Well it can, and here are the main 3 ways:

1. Computing Power, “free” and anonymous

It’s not your website itself that the average attacker wants; they want the computer power of the webserver that it’s running on. They want the free electricity. This can be used to perform complex computations such as those used to “mine” digital currencies like Bitcoin, or simply to hide the hacker’s identity while they use a server not linked to their name to perform other tasks.

2. Spam, spam, spam spam…

That computing power can also be used to churn out millions of spam emails, again, for free (to the attacker) and in a way that’s hard to trace, since the emails will come from your server rather than the attacker’s own computers. Since emails are quick and easy to send, often by the time it is spotted, the attacker has got his pay-off.

Spam equals money. Sadly, there are people who don’t immediately delete them and instead reward their evil business model. Website owners and hosting companies have to pick up the tab when the addresses of their servers get black-listed as spam sources, and time has to be invested in cleaning up.

Another way is to insert links into web pages of sites selling things, like various pharmaceuticals. These links may not even be intended or visible for people to click on, but they are visible to search engines and help the destination websites move up the search rankings. Unscrupulous marketeers can find it much cheaper to buy space on a thousand hacked websites from shady operators than to build up genuine interest in their products.

3. Serving up Viruses

A hacked website can be modified to serve up viruses to its visitors, catching vulnerable visitors whose own computer security wasn’t up to date. Viruses then allow the visitor’s computer to be used for the same purposes – and some others.

For example, some viruses will encrypt all your files, and decrypt them only upon payment of a ransom, i.e. “ransomware”. Or they may inject new advertisements into every web page you visit, making money for either the sellers of advertising space or the sellers of the advertised products. They may log clicks and key presses on the computer and capture valuable passwords, e.g. for online banking.

Sadly, insecure websites are economically valuable. Weak passwords, un-updated plugins, etc., all provide ways for the bad guys to use your computing resources to make money. The costs of breaking in are less than the revenues they can make, so hacking is a profitable activity.

The Cost to You

So even if your website is small and doesn’t make any direct money for you, it could still make hackers rich. And unfortunately, if they have their way, you lose- big time. You lose time, money and face.

If you’ve got an online business, your customers’ and clients’ personal information could be stolen. You could lose untold sums of money- and it happens even to vast multinationals when they let their guard down.

Even if the cost isn’t financial, a cyberattack could knock your SEO ranking, making it harder for customers to find you. It will also give your reputation a nasty blow, as people lose confidence in you and your brand.

Google is very vigilant when it comes to sites that have been attacked, and hackers don’t discriminate:

“Safe Browsing shows people more than 5 million warnings per day for all sorts of malicious sites and unwanted software, and discovers more than 50,000 malware sites and more than 90,000 phishing sites every month.”

And don’t underestimate the emotional cost. You’ll spend hours arguing with hosting providers, developers, and security professionals.  You’ll spend lots of money getting the spam off your site – often the clean up is more that the cost of a new site – and you’ll then also live with the fear that you missed something in the clean-up process.

All this is exacerbated by one simple thought, “Why didn’t I take precautions?”

What Does Effective Support and Protection Include?

Just like your phone system, air conditioning, heating, or your car, your website needs professional support.  A WordPress professional will understand the components of your site, and how all the pieces fit together.  They’ll also understand the steps required to protect your site, including:

  • Keeping your WordPress system up to date with the latest version.
  • Keeping your WordPress Plug-ins up to date and operating properly.
  • Putting active Intrusion Monitors on your site to detect and block intrusion attempts before they infect your site, and monitoring these daily.
  • Monitoring your site daily, to make sure it is operating properly, and making sure invalid links don’t creep into your website pages.
  • Making sure your site is securely backed up on a daily basis to an offsite location, so it can be recovered or moved quickly if it does get hacked or your web server crashes.

There are Costs – But They’re Small in Comparison

Expect to spend a small amount of money each month for effective support and protection – it’s the best money you’ll ever spend.

Interested in more information about support for your WordPress website?

Google SEO

How Google Finds Your Website

Search engines like Google follow links. It follows links from one web page to another web page. A search engine like Google consists of a web crawler, an index and an index algorithm. A web crawler follows all links on the internet. It goes around the web 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and saves an HTML-version of all your web pages in a gigantic database, called the Google Index.

The Google Index is updated if Google has come around your website on a repeat visit and found a new or revised version of it. Depending on the traffic on your site and the amount of changes you make on your website, Google comes around more or less often.

For Google to know of the existence of your website, there first has to be a link to it from another site or your site has to be registered with Google in Webmaster Tools and an initial index created. Following a link from either another website or Tools will lead to the first crawler-session and the first save in the index.

Google’s secret indexing algorithm

After indexing your website, Google may show your website in search results.

It’s important to Google that they only show “relevant” website content in search results – e.g. content that relates to the search, as specifically as possible. Google has a specific algorithm that decides which pages are shown in which order. How this algorithm works is Google’s trade secret. Nobody knows exactly which factors decide the ordering of search results. Moreover, factors and their importance change quite often. Testing and experimenting gives us a relatively good feel for the important factors and the changes in these factors. Search engine experts spend most of their time analyzing search results to determine ranking factors.

For example, on April 22, 2015, Google made a new release of their ranking algorithm.  It introduced a major new ranking factor called “mobile-friendliness”.  If your website is not considered mobile-friendly, it will lose ranking positions on Google’s Results Page. You can check a webpage to see if Google considers it mobile friendly using their test tool:

https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

There are also numerous factors that can affect rankings negatively.  For example, if your website uses techniques to artificially influence search results – like “link farms” from other websites – Google may demote or eliminate you from search results.  Google is constantly adding to these negative factors, as people try more ways to influence search results.

Also, if there are numerous errors on your website, like broken or invalid links, duplicate page content, which makes indexing more difficult, Google will demote your page in search results.

Google’s search results page

Google’s search results page shows up to 10 links to sites which best fit the search phrase keyword entered by the person searching. We refer to these results as “organic search results”. If you click to the second page, more results are shown. Above these organic search results are typically two or three ‘paid’ links. These links are ads; people have paid Google to put these links at the top of the site when people search for a specific term. Prices for these ads vary greatly, depending on the competitiveness of the search term. Similar ads may often appear on the right of Google’s search result pages as well.

It’s very important to have a basic understanding of how Google and most other search engines use links!  Our next article will go more deeply into this and other ranking influences.

Interested in more information on optimizing your website for Google search?

 

 

Google - Yahoo - SEO

Google Page 1 – How to Get There – How to Stay There

Getting your website’s pages to appear on Google Page 1 should be your primary website marketing objective, and every update to your website should have this in mind. There are a few simple rules to follow, and some technical expertise required, to make this happen, but it can transform your website from wallpaper to a lead generation machine.

Here are a few important “top tier” components – and you need to do them all.

  1. Understand Google Search RulesWebsite pages are ranked, and appear in search results, NOT websites.  The more you focus each page on a single topic, the more likely the page will be ranked well.  A search term for each page helps you develop focused content – a term someone would use in a Google search – like “designer shoes”.  Have at most two search terms, but usually one – for each page, to help you focus and develop page content that allows the search engine to better understand what’s on the page.  Too many terms means confusion, and confusion inevitably means lower rankings.
  2. Create Quality Content.  Nothing helps search results more than quality content, and nothing hurts more than bad content. Google gets smarter every year about content – they actually look at Videos now – so make it good and appropriate to the page focus.
  3. Pay Attention to Page Titles and Descriptions.  How well you write your page titles and meta descriptions can dramatically affect rankings and click-through rates.  See your web developer or SEO expert for guidance and support. See our newsletter article here. subject.
  4. Update Website Content Frequently. Google likes to see an active website, and the more active it is, the more often they’ll visit. A blog is a perfect way to provide ongoing activity.
  5. Use Images and Videos. Pictures and videos make a website come alive. Google increasingly likes video content, since YouTube is part of their corporate family. Post videos on YouTube and link to them from your website – you’ll see a ranking “pop” follow.
  6. Use HTML headers. Your web developer can help you with this one – internal HTML headers help Google understand the content, and there are rules that need to be followed.
  7. Backlinks, Backlinks, Backlinks. There’s nothing Google likes more than a popular website, and links from other  websites to your pages – “backlinks” – means other people like your content. Pursue them aggressively.  Just make sure the links are appropriate. Old “tricks” – like link farms you pay to connect to your site – can quickly get your website demoted permanently.
  8. Use Social Media. Social Media, like Facebook, can drive website traffic and can be a potent source of new business. If you still think it’s for kids, you’re missing significant opportunities.  See our service offering here.
  9. Mobile Friendly.  If your website won’t show properly on a mobile phone, or someone can’t submit a registration from a mobile phone, Google doesn’t like it.  Not only will they flag your page in search results as “not mobile friendly”, they’ll demote your page’s ranking.  You need to get it corrected now.  See our newsletter article here.
  10. Eliminate Page Errors. Invalid links, slow pages, missing pages, selectors that don’t work – all are search results poison. Your webmaster or developer is an invaluable resource to eliminate these errors.
  11. Optimize Your Website for Search with a Knowledgeable Technical Expert.  All of the work above won’t matter if it’s not communicated properly at a technical level. A search engine expert should be used as part of your regular website maintenance to make sure all your website pages are properly optimized, and updated to the latest Google Standards. It’s a complicated and never ending process – Google keeps changing the rules – but it needs to be done or all this good work will be wasted.  See our service offering here.

How Can You Determine If Your Website is Up to Speed?

Your web developer can help with many of these tasks.  If you don’t have a current developer, we have web development tools available that allow us to quickly look at each page on your website just like the search engine looks at it.  If you’d like us to do a quick audit of your website and give you a short report, you can request it here:

Google Search

Page Titles and Descriptions – A Key to Better Rankings and More Clicks

Getting your website pages to appear on Page 1 of Google Search results is your first task, but the real objective is getting people to click on your links, and go to your website, instead of your competitors.  The key to better page rankings and high click-through rates is simple: keyword-rich Page Titles and Descriptions, written properly to encourage a click-through.  But they have to conform to Google’s latest “rules”, or they may get ignored.

The Latest Google Update – Less is Now More

Google’s latest update changed the display of the Page Titles and Descriptions displayed in search results.  This information can have a dramatic affect on rankings and click-through rates, since this is what people see when they search for products or services and your web page is listed.   The latest update almost always means less information is now being displayed.

Here is a sample display from a Google Search for one of our clients – Organic Plant Care LLC.  They currently receive a #1 position in organic search results for the search phrase “organic plant care“:

Google Search

 

  • The first line is the Page Title (with a new size limit)
  • The second line is the Page URL
  • The rest of the display is the Page Meta Description (with a new size limit)

How these are written – both size and content – for each of your pages helps determine search position and click-through rates.

Good Page Titles Mean Higher Rankings and More Clicks

The Page Title is what appears in the browser tab or title bar when someone looks at a page on your website.  Google will use your page title in the first line of search results – if you have an effective title and it passes their “rules”. They also look for keywords in the title – what the person was searching for – to help rank the page and they highlight those words to make them stand out.

New Rules For Page Titles

Google’s recent release made one change that has a real impact on how this works. They now limit the page title to a display ‘pixel’ width instead of length, and if your title doesn’t comply, you’ll end of losing all or part of it in search results.

The length calculation used to be simple – just keep your page title under a certain number of characters – about 70 – and Google would use it. Unfortunately, they now do this using the actual display width of the title – e.g. after rendering your title in their results font, and after applying their rules, it can only be a certain pixel width.  If it’s too wide, it won’t be displayed as you expect.  Display width is affected by the following factors:

  1. The font used for display.  Different fonts have different letter spacing and width.
  2. Narrow letters are narrow. Three lowercase l’s are actually narrower than one lowercase w.
  3. ALL CAPS take up more space. Capital letters are wider than lowercase letters
  4. Width varies with the query. Google highlights (bolds) the query keywords, so a longer query will bold more keywords. Bold characters take up slightly more space. So, even if you found a title that just squeezed into the width “limit”, the actual display of that title would change depending on the keywords searchers use to find it.
  5. Cut-off titles have fewer characters. Google is cutting off titles with CSS, and the browser appends “…” whenever a title is truncated.

So, what limit should you use?

Various analysts now suggest 55 characters as the maximum size for a search title – resulting in a display just as you enter it about 95% of the time. We also feel that 55 characters is a reasonable title-length limit under Google’s new design. In addition, a cut-off title isn’t the kiss of death – Google still processes keywords beyond the cut-off (including for ranking purposes), and other formats, like vertical results and Google+, may display your full titles – so stick with 55, and you should be OK.

Good Meta Descriptions Mean Higher Rankings and Even More Clicks

The Page Description – actually the “Meta Description” – is what is shown under the Page Title and actual Page URL in search results.  It is not visible on the actual web page – your web developer maintains it in the page “meta-data” – invisibly embedded in the page with other page information but not physically visible on the page.  If you are a WordPress user, there are plug-ins that allow you to maintain the page description along with the page content.

The Page Description should contain the search keyword(s) on which the page is focused, but it should also be a “call to action” – e.g. something that will make the person want to click on the link to learn more about what you can do for them.  It needs to be concise, and it needs to be interesting.  Writing this properly can be the difference in a high performing click through rate

All the size considerations that apply to Page Titles also apply to Page Descriptions, with some more complications, since titles cover multiple lines, and multiple lines mean breaking after words.

Beware:  If your meta description isn’t present, or doesn’t pass Google’s rules, or can’t be shown because it is too big, Google will just select random text on the page to display in search results.  They may do this anyway, but a good meta description makes it much less likely.

We suggest, for the moment, you make these the Meta Description no longer than 115 characters – down from the old standard of 156 characters.

Do Your Website Pages Comply With These New Standards?

Keep your titles and meta descriptions to the suggested lengths, and you should be OK.  If you aren’t sure how to do this, ask your web developer.

We have web development search tools available that allow us to quickly look at each page on your website, just like the search engine looks at it, and audit Titles and Descriptions based on pixel size instead of length.  If you’d like us to do a quick audit of your website and give you a short report, you can request it here:

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