How to Write the Best Titles, Meta Descriptions, and Headlines for Your Website

The compelling articles, blog posts, and website pages you create need just a little bit more before they’re ready to post online. They also need a title, a meta description, and a compelling headline to draw readers in. If you post content to your website in DSS, then you’re probably already familiar with the metadata fields available:

offers convenient fields for article metadata

This guide will clarify what each of these fields mean for your online content, as well as how to use titles, headlines, and meta descriptions to improve engagement and reach for your website.

How to Write the Best Page Titles for Each Page of Your Website

Aside from the content itself, the page title (sometimes referred to as the “title tag”) is arguably the most important element on a webpage. The page title tells both readers and search engines what the page is about. When you create a title for a page in DSS, your audience will see it in search results:

The title is one of the most important elements on a webpage

It will also appear in the browser tab when someone views the live page directly:

The page title also becomes the browser tab title

Google uses pixels to measure the length of the page title. If the title is too long, it will appear truncated in search results. To avoid the issue, we advise using titles that are no more than 60 characters long, knowing that DSS will automatically add the name of the firm to the end of the title with a pipe symbol. For example, “Atlanta Workers Compensation & Injury Lawyers | Rechtman & Spevak.”

Title tags should be unique across your website, and they should always describe the page’s topic accurately and succinctly. However, how you approach writing the title should fit the type of content you add.

Page Titles for Core Site Pages

Titles for core website pages, such as the home page, service area pages, and overview pages, help search engines understand what your website is about. In fact, this is one of the very few places on your website that you should write more for search engines than your readers.

Titles for core pages should include the most important location-specific terms and keywords that describe your business. Here are some examples of strong page titles for homepage and practice area pages:

  • Atlanta Workers’ Compensation and Injury Lawyers
  • Milwaukee Wrongful Death Lawyers
  • Car Accident Lawyers Milwaukee, WI

Titles for office location and overview pages should be similarly straightforward. For example, “Milwaukee Personal Injury Blog” or “Milwaukee Personal Injury Law Office.” Page titles for bio pages can be as simple as the employee’s name. The whole idea with page titles for these kinds of “static” website pages is to keep it simple and focus on the most relevant keywords. If you need help identifying keywords or writing effective page titles for your website, reach out to us for guidance.

Page Titles for Library, Blog, FAQ, and News Pages

Page titles for articles, blogs, FAQs, and news items on your website should be less focused on keywords and more focused on describing what to expect from the article. These titles should clearly explain what the article is about and what a reader will find when she clicks on the page. They should make sense to human readers and focus on the topic.

Some examples of effective article, blog, and FAQ titles include:

  • Why Your Business Needs Flood Insurance
  • What to Do After a Car Accident
  • Common Injuries in 18-Wheeler Accidents
  • How to Write the Best Headlines for Each Page of Your Website

Page headlines appear at the top of content you post to your website, just like a headline in a newspaper or magazine. There is no character limit for headlines, but we recommend that headlines stay relatively short and to the point to increase readability. Headlines should continue the same theme as your page title, but they shouldn’t be exactly the same.

Headlines are an important ranking factor for search engines, but they should be written for your readers. While search engines pay attention to headlines, the headline is also what will grab attention and convince people to continue reading. That means that your headline must be both descriptive and compelling. Be sure your headline matches the content of the article and doesn’t make promises your article can’t keep.

Headlines for Core Site Pages

Headlines for home pages, service areas, and overview pages can be a little more creative than the page title, but they should still include relevant keyword phrases, if possible. For overview pages and bio pages, especially, it makes sense to keep the headline short and very similar to the page title, e.g. “Milwaukee Personal Injury Blog” or “Tom Foster.”

For home pages and service areas, don’t miss the opportunity to incorporate natural keywords that describe who you are and what you do. “Welcome to Smith & Smith” does nothing to further your marketing goals or engage the reader. Instead, some examples of more effective headlines include:

  • Personal Injury Attorneys Defending Victims Injured in Car Accidents
  • Experienced Car Accidents Attorneys Serving Fairfax and Northern Virginia

Headlines for Library, Blog, FAQ, and News Pages

For articles, blogs, FAQs, and other routine posts to your website, the headline is really your chance to “hook” the reader and pique someone’s interest in the topic. Your headline should follow the topic laid out in the title in a more compelling way, such as:

  • What No One Ever Tells You About Virginia Car Accident Claims
  • Five Mistakes Homeowners Make With Hail Insurance Claims
  • Common Signs of Nursing Home Abuse in Elderly Loved Ones

All these examples explain what kind of information the reader should expect to find. They create interest and incorporate key phrases naturally.

How to Write the Best Meta Descriptions for Every Page on Your Website

Meta descriptions appear below your page title in search results. While meta descriptions are not a factor in the Google search ranking algorithm, they are used as the two- or three-line description for your page when it comes up in search:

A metadescription displays under the title in a Google search listing

Every page on a site should have a unique, optimized meta description. The meta description should “sell” the page to the searcher and encourage him or her to click on your result.

Meta descriptions should use full sentences, and keywords should be woven in naturally—no matter what kind of page you’re creating them for. Using keywords properly in the meta description can increase the click-through rate for your page and give readers a taste of the quality of content they’ll see on your site.

Be aware that, if the meta description is longer than 160 characters, it will most likely be truncated by search engines and lose some of its power to attract visitors. If the description is shorter than 10 characters, the search engine may substitute a description created on the spot—and you lose control of your website’s message. Our writers aim for meta descriptions that are between 140 and 160 characters, including spaces, to make the most of the space provided. Keep in mind that some special characters and formatting will not render correctly when the meta description is pulled to the search results pages, so it’s best to stick to basic letters, numbers, and punctuation marks.

Whether you’re creating meta descriptions for core pages or articles and blogs, they should always be short and informative. They should summarize the page’s content and compel readers to click through. For core site pages, like home pages, come up with a few lines that summarize the main message of your website: “Marketing starts with content focused on your perfect clients. We will help you reach your perfect client through effective law firm web marketing strategies.”

For blogs, FAQs, and other articles, you should simply focus on providing a compelling summary of the content piece: “Don’t ignore vehicle recalls. Some defects can be deadly, and even those that don’t affect your vehicle affect the cars and trucks you share the road with.”

For all meta descriptions, you should keep the most important information at the beginning to catch the reader’s attention. Remember that Google will use boldface to emphasize any keywords in your description that match the user’s search query.

Need Help Writing Better Online Content for Your Business?

Do you need help writing better content for the Web? Do you need guidance to harness the power of your online content and make it work for your business? Our experienced marketing guides are passionate about making you look good, but we’re also excited about helping you do it yourself. To learn more about how we can help you take your online marketing to the next level, contact us today.

Lindsey Daher
Director of Content Operations at Foster Web Marketing

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