Understanding how to create meta descriptions is essential if you’re looking to improve click-through rates and ensure your web content is seen by readers. These 155-character snippets give internet users an at-a-glance summary of the kind of content that can be found on your pages.
A captivating meta description with a strong call-to-action can dramatically increase the odds of someone choosing your page over one from a competitor, while also reducing bounce rate.
What Are Meta Descriptions?
A meta description is a type of HTML element which provides a clear summary of the content of a web page. Meta descriptions are essential for providing searchers with a clear indication of what your pages include.
In many cases, Google and other search engines will include this meta description directly below the corresponding page. Ultimately, meta descriptions provide users with assurance that your pages provide the content they’re searching for.
How to Write an Effective Meta Description
Although meta descriptions play a vital role when it comes to on-page SEO and rankings, they’re often overlooked when creating web content. Thankfully, meta descriptions are relatively easy to create. Read on for the best practices you should be bearing in mind when creating compelling meta descriptions for your pages.
Never Exceed 155 Characters
Although you have some flexibility when it comes to the length of your meta descriptions, you should always strive to keep them below 155 characters. A good meta description should be succinct but sufficiently detailed.
There’s no guarantee that Google will display your meta description in full. In many cases, the search engine simply displays fragments of this HTML element. If your meta description is particularly long, there’s a greater chance of important information being truncated.
Why Active Voice is Important
Meta descriptions should be inviting and informative. As such, it’s important to use an active voice when writing meta descriptions. Make sure you’re addressing the reader directly and you’re encouraging them to choose your link over other options. Users are more likely to choose your link if it tells them exactly what they’re going to get should they decide to click.
CTAs Are Crucial
A call-to-action (CTA) is a fundamental part of any meta description. It’s your secret weapon that gives users that final push to pick your website over the competition. The type of CTA you use will vary depending on the nature of your website. If you’re operating an eCommerce platform, utilize terms like “Browse the Range” or “Buy Now”.
You can also use CTAs to overcome the limits of the 155-character count. If you haven’t been able to include as much detail as you’d like, cap off your meta description with an enticing “Click Here to Learn More”.
Always Include Focus Keywords
When it comes to SEO, keyword research is vital. You’ll also need to be savvy when using keywords in your meta descriptions. Utilizing focus keywords will improve search visibility and increase the odds of a searcher clicking through to your site.
If your meta description includes a focus keyword, search engines will highlight this keyword for users. This is particularly useful if your site has yet to rank as highly as you would like. When crafting meta descriptions, try and avoid using general terms across multiple pages. Keyword stuffing is another thing you should be actively avoiding.
Incorporate Technical Spec and Other Details
Meta descriptions are a great place to include technical specifications and other in-depth detail. This strategy is particularly effective for eCommerce platforms. You can use the HTML tag to provide insights into product features, sizing information, and so on. If a searcher has a clear idea of what they’re looking for, displaying this information is far more likely to generate a lead.
Minimize Bounce Rate with Matching Content
If you want to avoid penalties from Google, make sure your meta descriptions correspond with the content on your pages. Many sites use misleading descriptions to encourage searchers to click through to their sites.
Even if you secure click-throughs with mismatched meta descriptions, you’ll have to contend with an increased bounce rate. High bounce rates are a red flag to Google and can significantly damage your rankings.
Write Unique Meta Descriptions for Every Page
You should be striving to create unique copy across all pages of your website. Duplicate content should also be avoided when creating meta descriptions. In an ideal world, every single page of your site will require a wholly unique meta description to increase its chances of ranking well.
For larger websites, especially eCommerce platforms, this can prove challenging. Nonetheless, if you want to avoid things like indexing issues, put extra effort into creating distinctive meta descriptions for every last page.
Why it Pays to Produce First Class Meta Descriptions
The best meta descriptions are essential for letting people know that your pages are the best fit with their search criteria. To give your site a fighting chance against the competition, make sure you’re sticking to 155 characters for each meta description. Furthermore, always use active voice and never forget to cap off your HTML tags with a compelling call-to-action.
Carrying out keyword research is also useful for increasing visibility in search engine results pages. Try to avoid using more than two key terms for each meta description, and always prioritize your focus keyword.
You also need to make sure your meta descriptions correspond with the content on your pages if you want to avoid penalties. Finally, avoid falling into the duplicate content trap when writing meta descriptions, no matter how many you need to create.
Paul Towler is the technical operations director at SmartOffice, a software automation provider who helps companies with their document management systems.
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