How to Improve Engagement and Rankings with Meta Descriptions
There have been many advancements throughout the digital marketing community in recent times. Mobile-responsive websites, the role of artificial intelligence (AI) and global approaches to SEO are three examples. However, other tried-and-tested methods are just as important to recognize. Even seemingly humble meta descriptions can play a crucial role.
One of the main intentions of a meta description is to increase clickthrough rates. While this is true, we need to keep in mind that well-formulated descriptions can serve several additional purposes. Let’s look at the basics behind these HTML tags before discussing how they can improve SERP rankings and engagement rates.
Meta Descriptions: The Bread and Butter of an Optimized Website
We should first address the basic guidelines associated with writing a typical meta description. Most professionals will point out two parameters:
The description should be between 155 and 160 characters in length.
It should contain the main keyword associated with the page, article or link.
Seems simple, right? Well, yes and no. There is much more than meets the eye in terms of what goes into a meta description. Some individuals make the mistake of believing that these descriptions are nothing other than summaries of what visitors can expect. They need to help increase the click through rate (CTR).
How Meta Descriptions Increase Brand Awareness and Rankings
Studies have shown that sites outfitted with meta descriptions can obtain up to 5.8 percent more clicks when compared to sites with no such snippets. There are two main reasons behind these observations:
Customers will better understand what the page has in store and they will be more likely to click on the link.
Higher clickthrough rates will help to boost rankings and therefore increase online exposure.
Meta descriptions can often be displayed on social media sites if a link is shared. This is an excellent way to passively augment brand awareness through nothing more than word of mouth alone.
Now that we have begun to understand why meta descriptions are so crucial regarding engagement and SERP rankings, how do we create a well-written one?
Crafting an Eye-Catching Meta Description
There are several ways in which your meta description will stand out from its generic counterparts. Let’s take a look at a handful of well-known SEO techniques to employ.
Be sure to include a call-to-action
A call-to-action (CTA) is essentially used to “hook” readers so that they perform an additional task (such as clicking on the link or registering for an email newsletter). CTAs likewise illustrate what they can expect when engaging with the page in question. Every well-written meta description should contain a CTA. Even simple phrases such as “click here” or “find out more” can work wonders in terms of clickthrough rates.
Use words that convey value to the reader
Always keep in mind that meta descriptions can also be viewed as a form of a sales pitch. Therefore, creating a sense of value is important. Terms such as “popular”, “cost-effective” and “deal” should be used alongside the keywords intended to describe what it is that your website has to offer.
Remember that your meta description will be displayed alongside others that provide similar products or services. Imbuing these sentences with an innate sense of value will help you to rise above the competition.
Do not be afraid to experiment
A final suggestion involves the relative flexibility of meta descriptions. As Neil Patel points out, A/B testing should represent a portion of any campaign. Here is how this approach can be carried out:
Create one description that is intended to be used as the primary snippet for a page.
Craft a second which contains a variant of the main keyword or call-to-action.
Monitor the results of these campaigns for a handful of weeks to determine which one is enjoying the highest clickthrough rates. You can also examine other important metrics such as conversions and bounce rates. It will then be much easier to choose the best description for your needs.
One of Many SEO Tools
Meta descriptions should represent an integral part of your overall SEO campaign. When used alongside other techniques such as posting quality content and omnichannel social media marketing, there is no doubt that you will be rewarded for your efforts.
Greg Tuohy is the Managing Director of Docutec, a business printer and office automation software provider. Greg was appointed Managing Director in June 2011 and is the driving force behind the team at the Cantec Group. Immediately after completing a Science degree at UCC in 1995, Greg joined the family copier/printer business. Docutec also make printers for family homes too such as multifunction printers.
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