When you begin searching for something on google, you might be surprised to know what is shown in the search results isn’t the same as what is on the webpage. This subtle difference is because the way a search engine indexes the data is different than how humans read it.
Humans always search with an intent. We want to know something, find something or buy something. This intent drives us to type specific words (keywords) into Google to find what we are looking for.
On the search engine optimization side, it is very important that a webpage is set up (optimized) so that it can be found by the search engines for the specific topic it talks about.
Title Tags will lead the way
Every Google search result you see is guided by the Title Tags the website has. For example. Let’s say you typed ‘Orange County digital marketing agency’ into Google. You will find that our website result shows up like this:
What you see here is the Title Tag of the website and the Meta Description for our website, which are both pieces of important meta data. These are written specifically to target the search intent and the keywords the person is searching for.
(On a side note: because ‘Orange County’ is a location, there is a navigational intent. Because ‘digital marketing agency’ is a business, there is probably a commercial intent. Based on this, and the keywords typed, Google has determined that the Title and Meta Description make sense to show as a relevant search term.)
The other place the Title Tag shows is in the browser tab. It is usually not visible unless you run the mouse cursor over it like this:
This might not seem super important, but think about when you have a lot of different tabs open on your browser. It makes it much easier to know which one is relevant when it has a description in the Title Tag.
Meta Description do the extra selling
Just below the title of the site, is what is called the Meta Description. This small amount of text is what Google allows to be seen by the searcher to see if the page makes sense. Again, this may vary from what is on the actual page, because it is customized for search engine indexing.
So in the same example as above, the meta description looks like this:
Notice that the search term is bolded? This is because it is a direct match for the keywords the person originally searched for. This bolding makes the result seem more relevant and gives the viewer a sneak peek of what the page content is about.
H1 Headings show what is important
In the advertising and copywriting world, the Headline is often known as the ‘Ad for the ad’. This is because it entices the reader to look at the article below the headline.
In search engine optimization terms, the headings have a similar function for both Google and the website visitor. Headings break down into a hierarchy from H1, H2, H3 all the way down to H6.
The H1 Heading is also known as a Page Title. It is usually the first thing a user sees when they visit the webpage, often in a bold or larger text so it stands out. It should give some context to the page, and ideally, it should also have some keywords in it that relate to the search terms.
(Important: many people are tempted to try to ‘stuff’ the keywords into the H1 Heading to try to fool the search engines, but today this isn’t a great idea. The Google algorithm has grown smart enough to know when a headline isn’t relevant to the page.)
As you scroll down a page, you will find ‘subheadings’. These are usually ranked as H2 or H3 Headings, depending on how many there are. The H2 Heading ranking will tell Google that the information is more important than the paragraphs. H3 will also rank as important, but less so than H2. You get the idea…
These are just the basics of setting up your site for better Google and Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) results. Of course, a large bulk of the success comes down to sharing content that is relevant and valuable to the visitors of your website. After all, that is the reason people visit in the first place. Therefore, the more valuable your content it is, the more Google will serve it up for new visitors to your site.