One of the key things that can convince someone to click (or not click) on your search engine result is the meta-description. Unfortunately many people don’t realize the importance of writing a great meta-description and how much it can affect organic search traffic to their site. Let’s explore how to write a meta-description that gets the click.
What is a Meta-description?
When you enter a search term into Google or another search engine, you will receive a list of results that are most relevant to your search term(s) and most popular with other users. In each result you will see the title of the page and the URL of the page underneath the title. Under that you may see the date and sometimes the author. Finally you will see a few lines of text that gives a description of what that page is about. This is called the meta-description.
Back in late 1990’s and early 2000, search engines weren’t as smart as they are today and they relied on webmasters and website authors, to explicitly tell them what each of their pages were all about. In order to accomplish this, the HTML language included several special hidden tags that allowed the author to give info to the search engine about the nature of their page. These were called “meta tags” and included the following different meta tags:
meta title, meta description, meta keywords, (there are others too)
So what the heck does meta mean? This can be confusing but probably the best definition I can think of is…. “meta is a prefix used before another word, to provide additional information about the word or topic that the prefix follows”.
A meta-title provides more information about the Title.
A meta-description” provides a description or summary of the article content.
meta-keywords – tell the search engines what keywords this search should be relevant for.
In 2018 search engines are much smarter and can easily figure out what a page is all about. They don’t really rely on these meta tags any longer as ranking factors. BUT they will still often show the meta description you write, on the actual search engine results page.
Why is it Important to Write a Great Meta-description?
On the SERPs (search engine results pages) your meta-description strongly influences whether searchers click your page or some other page.
A well written meta description gives you an opportunity not only to describe your page but also make a pitch for why the user should click your link in the search results. For any commercial business, this means you’re going to want to appeal to a searcher’s problem and pain and let them know how you can help them, if they will only just click your link!
So the meta description is now an important marketing call to action for all web pages and each one should be unique and highly relevant to that particular page. And even if you’re not at the top of the search results, a compelling meta description can get a person to click your page as they scroll through all the results.
If you don’t write a meta-description for your pages, search engines will generate one for you automatically. But why leave this to chance? Treated as important as writing the headline for an important advertisement and write one that is compelling and caters to your user’s interests and motives.
7 Tips for Writing a Great Meta-Description
- Keywords – Get the main keyword(s) into the first sentence of your meta description, the earlier in the sentence the better. If searchers see the main keyword in your meta description, there’s a much higher chance they will click your result in the search pages.
- Problem / Solution – Appeal and acknowledge their problems, frustrations and pain points if you’re selling a product or offering a service.
- Benefits – Tell the reader what benefit they will get if they click to your page. People want to know right away what benefit they will get from doing something, so keeping that as the focus of your meta-description will go a long way to persuading them to click your result.
- Use Action Words – Use action verbs that propel the reader forward such as “Find out”, “Learn”, or “Discover”. Use enticing, descriptive language that draws the user in without turning them off.
- Avoid Keyword Stuffing – Don’t keyword stuff your meta description. Use your keywords and keyphrases naturally and don’t repeat the same keywords over and over. Meta descriptions are not related to your ranking. Write great sales copy that will appeal to your target audience’s interests and pain points and offer them a solution.
- Proper Length – Use the proper length. Meta descriptions should be around 300 characters, including spaces.
- Final Review – Review how your meta description looks. Often within your website publishing system, you are able to review your meta description and see how it will appear. Look it over and see how everything looks. Ask yourself if you would click through if you read your meta-description. Modify accordingly.
A Simple Formula for Writing a Better Meta Description
Keep these points in mind when structuring your meta-description.
- Appeal to the intent of their search (why they searched, what are they looking for)
- Use a call to action such as (find out, click, call, visit us, read, discover, learn, etc) to promote that they can resolve their problem or achieve some goal by coming to your page or learning about what you have to offer
- If you have space, consider working in some of your credentials, “Since 2003 we’ve helped… or 10 Years of Helping… etc.
Write Better Meta-Descriptions
Meta-Description: Writing great meta-descriptions is a simple step you can take today to help improve your chances of landing that click and driving more traffic to your website. A well written meta description can be the difference between a searcher clicking your page or moving on to your competition. Learn how to write better meta-descriptions so that you can get more clicks and more traffic from search engine results pages.