You’re working hard for your SEO! Your articles are on point, the images and videos are optimized, and every additional element is aligned with your strategy. However, there’s one key aspect that gives you headaches – the meta descriptions.
A good meta description will provide you with an advantage in SERPs, more click-throughs, and higher chances of converting people. This is why you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of meta descriptions in your digital marketing strategy.
In that regard, with this article, we will explain why this element is important to your website and how to optimize meta descriptions for SEO.
What Is a Meta Description?
A meta description is a short descriptive text snippet placed within the webpage code. In search results, the meta description appears under the page’s URL.
Your meta description teams up with your page title and URL to show users that your page includes what they’re looking for. An attractive title, simple URL, and a relevant meta description will result in a greater click-through rate.
Search engines don’t use the meta description as a direct ranking factor. Google doesn’t always use meta descriptions. Based on research by Moz, 35.9% of original meta description tags are shown “as is” in Google searches. Out of the 70,059 meta descriptions that were examined, in 15% of them, Google used the original meta description but added some extra text.
Google can decide if your meta descriptions don’t answer a user’s query, and instead, use a snippet from your page that is a better match. Or, Google can use your existing meta description. It depends on what users have searched.
However, there is an indirect benefit – Google utilizes click-through-rates to learn if your URL is useful to that audience. The more people click on your link, the more Google indexes it as a good search result, which leads to better rankings.
Additional reasons why you need to use unique meta descriptions even if they’re not considered as an SEO ranking factor are the bolded search results and social media previews.
When someone searches for a specific keyword or term, when it appears in the search results, that keyword will be bolded. People are more likely to be hooked by a bolded keyword, which is why you need to always include the focus keyword in the meta description.
Anytime one of your links is shared on social networks, the platform pulls the meta description from the link as a preview of the content. This means that if your meta description doesn’t sum up well the content in the link, users might not be interested enough to click on it.
The Anatomy of the Perfect Meta Description
Meta descriptions can be broken down into the following essential elements:
- Length: There’s no right length for a meta description. It all depends on the content and the message that you’re trying to communicate. Google alters the length from time to time, allowing for meta descriptions from 155 to 300 characters. When you write your meta description, convey your message in at least 155 characters.
- Actionable Tone: A boring snippet might not be good enough to spark curiosity among your readers. The meta description is an invitation to click on the search result.
- Call-to-Action: Without a proper CTA, especially if you have something to sell on your page, your invitation to click isn’t complete.
- Focus Keyword: If the search phrase corresponds with the focus keyword in your meta description, Google will highlight the focus keyword in SERPs. This will further encourage users to click on your link.
- Relevance: You should never write a meta description that deceives users into clicking. A misleading snippet will decrease your rankings, and increase your bounce rate at the same time. Use only meta descriptions that are relevant to the content on the page.
- Uniqueness: If you have the same meta description on several pages of your website, you will only confuse Google. That will inevitably result in lower rankings for your entire site. If you can’t think of a unique meta description, it’s better to let Google choose the right snippet for your link.
Meta Description Writing Tips
Now that you have a better knowledge of what meta descriptions are, it’s time to start crafting the perfect meta descriptions for your pages. Think about what would motivate a user to click on your link in the search results page. What do you offer in your URL? Is it something that users can read, or something they can buy?
If it’s a product page, you need to use the snippet to offer your product, or if it’s the home page, you need to accentuate your brand in the meta description. You need to let readers know what’s inside the URL, and convey that multiple times if possible within the meta description.
Pick the Right Keywords
When search engines examine your pages, they detect keywords. Google scans your content to determine if you’ve used the exact keywords or complementary ones.
This is why you need to use the focus keyword and an LSI keyword phrase in your meta description to allow search engines to prioritize your page. The easiest way to discover LSI keywords is to use Google Autocomplete and Google related searches.
Make the Meta Description Inviting
When it comes to meta descriptions, it’s not only about the keywords. A keyword-stuffed snippet looks odd and uninviting. Putting together strings of unrelated keyword phrases is a bad idea. You should also aim for a warm inviting tone that encourages users to open the URL.
Be Attentive of Competitors That Use AdWords
When you secure one of the top positions in SERPs organically, you need to also consider monitoring your competitors that use Google AdWords and make adjustments to your SEO strategy accordingly.
If you write a relevant meta description that does not sound as the advertised snippet, then you have a shot at capturing more click-throughs compared to your competitors who may have invested thousands of dollars in ads.
Include Meta Description in the Right Places
The following are the pages where you should include your meta descriptions:
The meta description on your homepage is an excellent opportunity to interest users in your brand.
2. Your Blog Content
If you have posts that receive lots of traffic via search, you need to ensure that you have an appropriate meta description for each of your blog posts.
3. Product Pages
Having attractive meta descriptions is crucial to attracting customers to your product pages.
4. Pages With Little Text
Pages that are filled with visual content can have a good ranking, but because they lack text, they won’t have a proper meta description. This is why adding the snippet is important here.
Don’t Include Double Quotation Marks
When quotation marks are used in the HTML of a meta description, Google hides the part in quotation marks when the description appears on SERPs. To avoid that, you need to remove every non-alphanumeric character from your meta descriptions.
Write High-Quality Content
Google’s algorithms are constantly evolving. But still, one thing stays constant – you must have quality content that provides value and meets the users’ needs if you want to win in SERPs. Your meta description is just the welcome mat on your doorstep. The content is what retains the users and increases your click-through rate whenever you publish a piece of content.
Examples of Excellent Meta Description
The following meta description entertain, tell the users exactly what’s in it for them, and includes focus keywords combined with a CTA.
Chipotle Mexican Grill
Succinct and simple. If you want Chipotle, you know the website that you need to visit.
One of the best meta descriptions. Funny, and appeals to people’s lighter side.
They reach out to the users by asking a question straight from the start. After that, they tell them that they provide everything that’s needed for traveling. Direct, and actionable.
You can notice the free shipping deal straight away in Unique Vintage’s meta description. They also tell you that they provide unique vintage clothes for every occasion, stating their offer clearly.
This is a company that understands its customers. Kids love sweets, however, parents want a cereal that is high in fiber and lower in sugar content. Below is an excellent example of a meta description that responds to customer’s needs.
Explains the values of Travel Yosemite and what users can expect when they click on the link.
Again, simple and straight to the point. They explain the services and products that they offer, and the word ‘luxury’ informs people to expect nothing but the finest.
Hopefully, the above advice has helped you get a better understanding of meta descriptions and the optimization process needed for search engines.
Now, it’s your turn to apply those tips and create meta descriptions that will improve your SEO, convert people into loyal clients, boost sales and convince people to click on your link over your competitors in SERPs.
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