Are you one of the many that think meta descriptions are not important for SEO? It’s time you rethink that. While Google claims it has no effect on placement in search results, the fact is meta descriptions have a bigger impact than you may realize.
The fact is while Google doesn’t use the words in the meta description to determine the position in search results, the searcher who is reading the meta description will take action based on what it says and a website’s click through does affect search results placement.
So, What Is A Meta Description?
A meta description is the brief description that shows up under the page or post title in search results page (see example) and explains what the link that displayed is about. It’s time to stop making them a last priority and learn how to write a meta description.
How To Write Meta Descriptions
Be Clear and Descriptive
It’s human nature to not like to waste time; we like information to be fast and easy to figure out. The goal is to have users click on your website and then STAY there. Each meta description you write should be a clear description of what the page or post offers.
If the searcher just clicks but leaves immediately, then this will affect the click-through rate (CTR) and can ultimately affect your website’s ranking, so make sure the page offers whatever the meta description claims it does.
Teasing Your Users
Create curiosity in your potential website visitors! Instead of giving the answer away in your meta description, you might ask a question or feature a lead-in about a piece of information on the page. Give people a reason and an incentive to actually click on your page.
When creating a meta description, think of what would interest you and your current customers, what will catch their eye and get them to click the link. Once you have them hooked, the rest is a piece of cake!
Character Counts Matter
As mentioned, these descriptions should be quick, informative and to-the-point. Search engines have a desired “character range” that the description should fall into. Make sure your meta description is under 160 characters. If the description is longer, it will be truncated in search results.
BTW, for those that want to get really geeky… we use the term character range, because it is actually pixel count that determines how much text is displayed before it is truncated. It would be too complicated to calculate the pixel count each time you write a meta description, because each letter in the alphabet is a different pixel size and based on font characteristics, which changes it too. If you want to know more about pixel count, here is a blog post by Screaming Frog.
Learn from the Competition
Use all your resources when learning how to write an effective meta description. Sometimes the best resource you can use to know what descriptions work is from the competition. Know what others in the industry are including in their descriptions and what new things they are trying out. Checking out the paid ads is one way to keep up with others in the industry. See what they used as their meta descriptions so you can have an idea of what your website description should look like.
For example, if you own a veterinary clinic, you might want to look at the Google ads for other veterinary clinics. If you happen to notice one keyword, such as “financing” or “payment plans” repeated over and over again, there’s a pretty good chance those keywords have been successful and it would be good to include them in your meta description.
The most important thing to remember is you want the right people to click on your website, so make sure you are attracting them with what you say in your meta description. And once you get them to the website, you want to keep them there. Learn how in this blog post.
Do you have any other tips to add on how to write a meta description? If so, I’d love to hear about them below!