How to Find and Edit Meta Tags: Titles, Descriptions and Headers

Although SEO continues to evolve and change at a seemingly lightning pace, the fundamentals like HTML titles, meta descriptions and headers remain just as important as they always were.

HTMLAlthough SEO continues to evolve and change at a seemingly lightning pace, the fundamentals like HTML titles, meta descriptions and headers remain just as important as they always were. All three are buried deep within the HTML code for your website.

If you, like many business owners, are not fluent in HTML, you might have no idea how to find and edit these meta tags. Here is what you need to know for each one.

Title Tag
Each Web page’s title is displayed in the browser, but not actually on the page itself. To see the title of a particular page, bring the page up in your browser and read the name of the tab it is in. However, tabs often cut off titles. To view the entire title, or to edit it, open up the HTML code for your Web page, which is much easier than it sounds.

With the page open in a browser on a Windows computer, simply right click with your mouse anywhere on the body of the page. Select the option that reads “View Source” or “View Page Source.” A new page will open with all of the HTML and other code for the page in question. If you are not familiar with HTML, it might look like gibberish.

Near the top of that page of code, look for the bracketed word “title,” like this: <title> and </title>. All of the text between the opening and closing title brackets is your Web page’s title. Make sure it is less than 55 characters and attention-grabbing, and the keyword phrase you want to rank for is present.

Meta Description
A Web page’s meta description is like an ad, or preview, of the page’s content. It does not directly influence Google rankings, but it helps to generate more clicks when viewers read it in search results. However, the meta description does not appear anywhere on the web page. To access it, again you’ll need to “View Source” or “View Page Source” following the instructions above.

On that page of code, look for a line that begins with <meta name=”description” content=”…”. There might be some other words in the code as well. Regardless, look for the text in quotation marks following the content=. That text is your Web page’s description. Read it over carefully, keeping in mind that the purpose is to convince searchers to click on your website rather than someone else’s.

Headers
Headers are the Web version of newspaper headlines. As a general rule, each Web page should have one <h1> tag that serves as the main headline for the entire page. Progressively smaller headlines (<h2> and below) can be used to highlight individual sections of the page and main ideas within each section.

Your headers will display on your Web page as slightly larger, bolded text lines that look like headlines. To view it in your source code, use the same instructions above. Look for lines of code that begin with <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, etc..

Now that you know how to find these key elements on your page, it’s time to edit them. Editing can be a bit more complicated depending on how your website was created. Unless you’re familiar with HTML code and you’re comfortable making edits, I recommend leaving this to a professional webmaster. It’s actually quite easy to screw up your entire website if you’re not careful when you edit your pages.

Although they seem relatively minor, these three elements can make a real difference in your search engine rankings and the number of clicks you receive from SEO. Regardless of whether you do your own editing or employ a professional, make sure your titles, meta descriptions and headers are set up properly, or else you’ll struggle to get your website ranked high.

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Author: Phil Frost

Phil is Founder and COO of Main Street ROI. Phil leads the company’s operations and is primary creator of Main Street ROI’s marketing training programs. He is an expert in search engine marketing, website analytics, and sales funnel optimization. Phil’s marketing thought leadership has been published on Forbes.com, Inc.com, MSN.com, and many other major business media outlets.

Phil earned his Master of Engineering Management degree from Thayer School of Engineering and Tuck School of Business and his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Engineering degrees from Dartmouth College. While attending Dartmouth, Phil started every game on the varsity football team as the defensive safety.

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