Use metadata to improve webpage search position

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Getting a good high search engine position (SERP) is necessary but not sufficient to increase webpage traffic. To encourage increased clicks (CTR) on those search results, you need to have appropriate tags in your HTML <head>

<meta name="description" content="Words that search engines show in website result.">

As a result of these white hat SEO practices, CTR ~ 10 % across the entire website and CTR > 60 % for the more popular pages on this site. The latter is implicit–popular pages should have great CTR.

Jekyll excerpt

For Jekyll users, the excerpt: header field goes directly into the HTML meta description tag. While Jekyll archive/table of contents shows up to about 160 characters, this is too long for Google.

Meta character count

Currently Google will show about 110 characters maximum (for mobile and desktop), PLUS a few <h2> or <h3> tags relevant to the search–as long as your <h2> <h3> tags aren’t too long.

I used to make descriptive, long <h2> <h3> tags, but that doesn’t fit well into the page table of contents or the Google search results.

Actionable language

For the best experience for your visitors, which is what search engines are trying to measure, write authentically, in actionable language where appropriate. Enumerated lists to accomplish a task are better than vague wandering descriptions. Include references to material you’ve used, this increases the utility of a webpage for users who have slightly different needs.

Length of articles

I do not hold by specific lengths of article. I write simply the minimum necessary length to cover a topic or accomplish a task. I favor breaking up a long page with several topics into separate pages, so that readers don’t have to wade through sections uninteresting to them. That is, when each page can stand along. I do NOT break up pages specifically for more clicks–that is a negative web authoring practice that slows down the site and makes it less readable. As search engines rapidly become smarter, I expect breaking up articles across numerous pages just to get more clicks and advertisement impressions will be penalized in the future.




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