Have you ever Googled something and you decided to click the link based on little text attached to the link? If you have, you probably clicked the link because you found the little text below the link worth checking out for.
Well, that’s meta description. And it’s important that every website should have one.
To have an effective SEO plan and to drive the traffic to your website, meta description plays a huge part. It should be persuasive enough to increase the click-through rate. When it comes to the click through rate, it is considered as one of the most important ranking factors that improve the overall performance of the site.
If you have a website, then meta descriptions should matter to you.
Even if you don’t personally have a website and simply browse online, meta descriptions should still matter to you.
A meta description job is simply to get your attention and causes you to click through.
Not only does meta description grabs in two or more website organic traffic it’s also a great factor in search engine optimization which, unfortunately, many digital marketers ignore.
Consequently, if you dare pay less attention to meta description, you could be missing a lot. Lost views, forgotten leads, and low traffic are the consequences.
However, while adding a meta description might be simple, writing a killer meta description for SEO is hard. Thankfully, with a little practice and a proper guideline, it could be easier as a piece of cake, and that’s exactly what this article is going to teach you about.
Ready? Let’s go.
What is a meta tag?
A meta tag is a piece of short HTML information on your web page that provides info about what the web page is all about, which includes Meta Title, Meta Description, heading tags and Meta keywords.
What is a meta description?
A meta description is a short description that provides a brief summary of information about the page. It should be up to 300 characters that appear under the blue color meta title under the website URL.
Also, the Meta descriptions appear when the posts are shared on social media through WordPress plugin or other extensions used for the site. This is helpful in showing the main excerpt of the post to the user.
Why do meta descriptions exist?
Meta descriptions serve a lot of purposes.
First of all, they describe the contents of a web page to the searcher while simultaneously convincing and persuading the searcher to click the link.
Meta descriptions play a big role in search results.
Any words that match the search query are made bold in the description.
They also serve as a sort of advertisement for that specific website, providing the searcher with a brief glimpse into what they could gain or see by clicking.
See the below example of search results for “Freelancing from home.”
The meta descriptions above are the few lines of text below the link title and URL.
But meta descriptions aren’t reserved for search engine results pages (SERPs).
They also appear when people share content on websites and social media channels. While search results and SEO aren’t relevant in this particular instance, well-written meta content will still encourage opens on social media and external sites.
And click-throughs on social media, while not technically recorded by Google or Bing, will still contribute to a site’s overall traffic, relevance, and publicity.
All in all, meta descriptions can contribute a ton to your website’s success.
The importance of meta descriptions
A meta description is your website’s last sales pitch to a searcher. It is the most important feature to improving click-through rates from an organic search.
Meta descriptions are a major tool that searchers use to decide which search results will be the most helpful, relevant, and authoritative.
They are also super important for search engine optimization–but not in the way that you may think.
It is important to point out that meta description content is not factored into search results. So it’s not necessary to put keywords into your meta description.
Meta descriptions may not directly benefit SEO, but click-through rates do, and meta descriptions help get clicks.
And the more people that click on your link, the better the content will perform in search results.
How to write meta descriptions
Meta descriptions live and work behind the scenes of a web page, so they need to be entered into your content management system [CMS] for every page on your website.
For now, head over to your website’s HTML and take a look at the <head> section. It’ll look similar to this.
<meta name=”description” content=”Insert meta description here!”>
To add a meta description to the site, insert the content next to (you guessed it) where the HTML code says “content=”.
Regardless of what content management system you use, you should have complete control over what your meta descriptions say.
The especially goes for WordPress, whose backend platform makes it easy to alter this information.
If you use an SEO plugin like Yoast, you can add the meta description to the section labeled “meta description”. You can even preview how it will look in the SERPs.
Now that we have the technical how-to out of the way, let’s review some tips for writing meta descriptions that grab a searcher’s attention, increase a click-through, and boost your SEO.
1. Use action-oriented language, with a call-to-action
Great sales copy always includes present-tense, actionable language. Your meta description should read no differently.
Use the meta description to describe exactly what you want the searcher to do or what exactly will happen when they click on your link.
Give the searcher a clear picture of what lies beyond the link.
Consider starting with words like “Learn,” “Discover,” “Experience,” or “Read” so the searcher has a clear idea of what your website provides. This may also inspire new actions beyond the searcher’s original query.
2. Make your descriptions fit
One of the most common questions with meta descriptions surrounds length. People never seem to know how long a meta description should be.
All your meta descriptions can go up to 300 characters. Any description that is longer than these characters will be truncated.
Therefore, I’d advise that your meta description should be 150-160 characters long.
Here’s a less-than-optimal effort from Nescafe:
From that first sip of coffee to what?
You might be tempted to think that Nescafe as so big and successful that they don’t need a good meta tag. But compare that to the tag for Disney’s homepage:
Point is, as the saying goes if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right. And that’s certainly true with search marketing.
3. Remember KISS!
Keep it short and sweet.
Good digital marketers recognize that, as humans, we have the attention span of a goldfish — eight seconds, to be exact.
You should remember this in any circumstance that involves writing content to persuade or sell, especially when crafting your meta descriptions.
Don’t assume that searchers will take the time to review all meta descriptions on the search engine results page.
Choose each word wisely, knowing that people most likely skim your description before continuing down the page.
Another important thing to recognize is that Google cuts off meta descriptions that are too long. There have been reports of Google testing snippets of longer length, but about 150 characters is a safe length.
Case in point — Do not get caught with your most valuable information at the end!
4. Always try to be specific and relevant, including the focus keyword
Within your meta description, you essentially have two to three sentences to persuade people to click. So every word in your meta description matters.
Use your meta description to further connect with the target audience of your website or blog post link. Use relevant language that will appeal to them and be specific about what your website offers.
5. Use power words in a search snippet
Like all good copy, the best meta descriptions are impactful.
This effort from Cisco is pretty bold, mentioning how they’re a ‘worldwide leader’ who have a range of services that ‘transform’ our lives:
Likewise, AT&T’s marketing strategy is to call our popular products like the iPhone 6 and talk about ‘special offers’ and ‘incredible deals’:
6. Be truthful and Inspire Curiosity
You might think it a good idea to embellish your meta description solely to get a click. Who cares if a searcher stays on your website as long as they click-through first?
Not a good technique.
If you’re not truthful about what a searcher can expect from your link, he or she probably won’t hesitate to hit that “back” button.
And too many quick exits can hurt your site’s bounce rate — and, more importantly, the searcher’s trust in your content.
Be honest and clear about the content of your website, and don’t stuff your meta description full of keywords, either.
7. Show empathy
To put it bluntly, emotion sells.
Does this meta description stir up any emotion in you? Does it make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?
While the phrase ‘for your driving pleasure’ is old-fashioned and quite jarring, I like the principle of what they’re trying to achieve.
Basically, they’ve got a bunch of really great cars that are just waiting for a test drive. Sounds like fun!
The Good And The Bad Examples Of Meta Description
In this part, we are going to check out the good and the bad meta descriptions. We will do this by examining one popular search query.
This search is relevant to online marketing, and we are going to start with the good one first.
“What is white hat SEO”
This meta description not only employs an actionable word (“learn”) but also explains the benefit of learning white hat techniques and how they can help your website.
Now, for the bad meta description examples, using the same keywords.
“What is white hat SEO”
Although this meta description is interesting and personable, it lacks relevance and focus keywords. In fact, it’s more likely to appear in results for “black hat SEO” given that keyword is mentioned twice.
Meta descriptions could be compared to email subject lines in this case. Using something unique and fun can help grab attention, but going too far outside the line can just be plain confusing.
While your meta descriptions may not have a direct effect on your SEO, they play a huge role in explaining your web page content and garnering click-throughs.
Adding them is easy — it’s writing them well that’s a little more difficult. Treat them as you would your ad or website copy, and your website traffic numbers will thank you.
Here is just a little tip…
Remember when you are creating the Meta description, it should be for the users and not search engines. You shouldn’t leave your meta description empty because Google will by default fetch information from the site content. If you do decide to run your own SEO audit, you should try to add the missing Meta description and if there is any duplicate meta description, amend them too so that each page has its own unique meta data.
Need help with writing your meta optimization? Contact us for more information on all your SEO needs.