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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We should first address the basic guidelines associated with writing a typical meta description. Most professionals will point out two parameters:
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).
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:
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?
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.