Before digging into SEO tactics, it’s important to remember that the crucial part of search engine optimization is quality content. You must focus on writing content that is relevant and engaging before leaning on SEO techniques to boost your performance.
You may think that this only applies to the meat of your content. It doesn’t. Writing good content for the benefit of your reader is something you should consider even when you’re writing meta descriptions. When you consider that your meta description is essentially the first call to action you present, that only makes sense.
What is a Meta Description?
A meta description is an HTML attribute that is used to describe the content on a particular web page. Google captures the meta description from the web page source code and displays that on the search engine results page. This means that this small piece of content is the first information potential visitors see about your web page.
How do Meta Descriptions Impact SEO?
The truth is that search engines don’t use meta descriptions to influence SEO. Google confirmed this back in 2009. This includes the use of keywords in your meta description. However, that doesn’t mean that meta descriptions don’t impact SEO. They have a big influence on whether people click on your website or not. This does impact SEO. In addition to those click-through rates, Google also measures on-page time, backlinks, and other metrics that can result from those initial clicks.
Now you know why meta descriptions are so important. It’s time to get into the ‘how’. You can learn to write meta descriptions that lead to more clicks and better SEO. Check out seven ways to write customer-friendly meta descriptions that earn more traffic to your website, build trust, and create more conversions.
- Offer a Strong Value Proposition
Think about your internet searches. When you click on a search result, you do so because you believe that you will receive the information you need or reach the product or service that interests you. It boils down to something really simple. You click the links that you believe have something to offer you. Remember that your potential customers have the same POV. Your meta description should answer the question, ‘what is in this for me?’ Give them a reason to click.
One of the best approaches to this is to conduct a comparison. Look at similar competitor pages, especially those that are ranking higher than yours. What are they saying to draw in traffic and earn better SEO rankings? When you find out, don’t copy them. Instead, you have to write descriptions that are even more compelling. It takes time to do this kind of competitive research, but it is always worth the effort.
- Use an Offer to Attract Clicks
If you think about it, your meta description is a bit like a mini advertisement. Think about it. Businesses pay to have their meta descriptions and site links in the paid advertising space at the top of the results. You are doing the same. The only difference is that you are on the list because of organic relevance, not because you paid to be in the space.
Your web page, blog, or landing page is already relevant to the search. Shouldn’t you continue to hook the user further with an appealing offer or call to action?
Take a look at this result from Nordstrom Rack. Their meta description attracts anyone looking for summer dresses with a promise of 70% off:
- Keep The Length Down
Keep in mind that the best meta description length is 160 or less. Google does allow up to 300 characters, but that’s too many. At first, keeping to the lower limit may feel challenging. But, there’s a good reason for it. You’ll force yourself to be clear and concise. This will also ensure that your meta description doesn’t get truncated. When your description appears in search engine results, it should always communicate a complete thought.
In this SERP for high-performance auto parts, the following result falls a bit short. They used the meta description to list some types of parts they have available. Unfortunately, the list is truncated. What if someone is looking for a part that doesn’t appear in the description? They might find another search result to be more relevant:
- Focus on Being Inviting
If you can fit a keyword or two into your meta description, that’s great. It could help your SEO. However, that’s not guaranteed. This is why it isn’t worth writing a clunky meta description, just to include a string of keywords. Instead, focus on writing a description that is appealing to your target audience.
One thing to consider is writing quality. Take the time to write something in the appropriate voice that doesn’t have problematic spelling and grammar mistakes. Typos and poor grammar is often seen as a sign that your website is unprofessional and spammy. Best to avoid that at all costs. It’s helpful to remember that all content deserves good proofreading and editing. Order proofreading services to make sure you get professional help with that.
Your meta description is a bit like a sign in front of a storefront. What would be more inviting:
“Coffee, Hot, Seattle, Hole Bean, Weekly Special”
“Enjoy hot, whole bean coffee from Seattle. Check out our weekly special.”
- Treat PPC as Serious Competition
Like it or not, those paid search ads are going to be the first thing potential customers see. That means you have to be competitive. You have to work hard to ensure that your meta descriptions are a bigger attraction than paid ads. Keep note of the paid ads that appear in the search engine results that you are trying to optimize for. This will help you understand what you are up against.
Fortunately, you do have an advantage. Internet users tend to trust organic content more than paid advertisements. If you can write a meta description that communicates, “I’m here to help you” rather than “I’m here to sell you something”, you will be at a great advantage.
- Prove That You Really Are a Big Deal
This is the perfect place to blow your own horn or engage in a bit of name-dropping. If you’ve worked with a VIP customer, earned an influential certification, been associated with a memorable brand, or carry a specialized license, use your meta description to let people know!
When you generate trust and build thought leadership, you earn clicks. However, you should keep your character limit in mind. Pick one or two of the most outstanding honors to share in your meta descriptions. Keep things brief. You don’t want your point to be truncated.
Imagine that you’re searching for a qualified roofing company in the Chicago area. Wouldn’t you be drawn to a fully certified company, authorized master contractor, and company that is well known in the Chicagoland region? This search engine result displays this concept quite well:
- Test Relentless And Adapt Constantly
The truth is that you are going to write meta descriptions that you are sure will be absolute winners. Sadly many of these will fail. Conversely, it’s not uncommon for a writer to come up with a meta description they think is mediocre at best, only to have it get amazing results. Some of this is simply the learning process. Eventually, you’ll get a better idea of what works.
Some of this is simply since people are unpredictable, and you will be surprised at what might work at any given time. This is why your best choice is to try various meta descriptions, A/B test them, take an objective look at the results, and make changes. Keep in mind that small changes can make a big difference. A poorly performing meta description may not need to be rewritten entirely, just tweaked a bit.
When you find the right combination of words to make your meta description get results, it’s time to apply what you’ve learned. Then, implement that as you write or rewrite meta descriptions for the other pages on your site. Just remember that you should avoid simply copying one meta description into multiple pages. This can cause duplicate results that can lead to confusion or frustration.
Final Thoughts: Back Your Meta Descriptions with High-Quality Content
As you create your meta descriptions, keep in mind that search engine algorithms along with user preferences are always changing. This is why it is best to focus on content quality and relevance, or SEO tactics. This effort should begin with your writing relevant, inviting meta descriptions. However, it’s important to continue this by ensuring that your blog posts, landing pages, and other content are also engaging and informative. Ultimately, your meta descriptions give users a reason to click. It’s up to you to create page content that makes them glad that they did.