Your website can attract more traffic with great content and a user-friendly interface. However, you need the users to click on your site for them to see all that. So how can you persuade people to visit your page amidst countless other results on the SERPs? A well-written meta description will help you achieve just that.
What exactly is a meta description? How can it help your web pages? Let’s find out the answer to those questions and have a look at how to write a great meta description.
A meta description is a brief summary of the content of a webpage in the form of an HTML tag. Within 135 to 155 characters, you can write a snippet telling the users about the page and how relevant it is to their search queries.
It will be displayed under your page name in the SERPs and can persuade the users to give your page a visit. This small SEO aspect proves to be one of the most critical for any businesses looking to increase traffic to their websites.
Your meta description can appear in a host of different ways, most notably in the page code and on the SERP.
Your meta description will be in the section of the HTML code of the page. The majority of content management systems (CMS) will allow you to easily add and edit the meta description.
The second and more visible appearance is on the SERP. It is located right underneath the clickable page name. However, it is possible for Google or Bing to not display the meta description if it is considered unrelated to a search query.
Another beneficial appearance of meta description is on social media sites. When someone shares a link on Facebook or Twitter, there will be a preview of that page containing the thumbnail, page name, and an introduction.
That introduction is the meta description. In this day and age, having your pages shared on social media is like having the key to the kingdom, which is why perfecting meta descriptions proves to be extremely critical.
According to Google, meta descriptions are not key factors to determine a webpage’s SEO rankings. They are not even part of the ranking algorithm. However, this does not make them any less important.
The benefits of meta descriptions are more on the intangible side. Think of them as a quick pitch for your future customers. When users search for something, your meta descriptions can convince them that your webpage has an answer or product they are looking for.
When users are impressed by your meta descriptions, they should click on your web pages, therefore increasing the click-through rate (CTR) of your pages.
Click-through rate is indeed one of the factors that Google will take into consideration to rank web pages. A page with a high click-through rate is likely regarded as a good result, which can catapult it onto a higher rank.
Aside from improving CTR, meta descriptions are also an opportunity to set yourself (and your page apart). Chances are, your competitors also have pages with similar content. Writing a unique meta description is a great way to separate yourself from the rest.
With all these benefits waiting for you, optimizing your meta descriptions prove to be vital for any SEO campaign.
Now that you understand the need for a well-written meta description, let’s look at what makes a great meta description.
Keep in mind that there is always a risk of the search engine not displaying your designated meta descriptions, depending on the search question or the user. This is why you should pay attention to these seven factors for a high-quality meta description.
As mentioned before, the length of a meta description should be between 135 to 155 characters. There is no definite number since it is determined by the content you are summarizing.
However, the advised range is set to enable users to read the meta descriptions in their entirety. Meta descriptions longer than the aforementioned range will be cut off when displayed on the SERPs, possibly removing important information.
Google will cut off meta descriptions longer than 120 characters on mobile and 160 characters on desktop. You may still convince the users, but it’s best to let them read the whole thing.
So make the most of the character limit and get your message across as succinctly as possible.
Since the meta description is like a quick sales pitch, you do not have time (or character limit) to beat around the bush. You need to address the users directly and let them know that you are providing your services or products for them.
Using active voice will make your meta description sound more encouraging, prompting the users to visit your pages. Think about what the users are looking for and make sure to convey what you offer them as straightforwardly as possible.
Additionally, active voice will help you make good use of the character limit and convey your point easier compared to passive voice. For example:
If users are searching for accommodation for their next trip and see these two meta descriptions:
We provide excellent service and accommodation.
Excellent service and accommodation are provided.
Right off the bat, you can see that the active voice uses fewer letters to convey the same point as the passive voice.
In the active voice sentence, you can put your business name at the beginning of the sentence and show the users what you offer. On the other hand, the passive voice sentence puts the product at the beginning, which is something the users already know.
The meta description aims to encourage people to click on your links, so what better way to include a call to action?
This is not different from our point about using active voice, since it is also about prompting users to click on the pages. More specifically, though, you can include some particular phrases that encourage users to visit or even try out your services.
Common CTAs are:
These phrases do not target ranking algorithms or any other SEO-related aspects. They are simply for encouraging users to take action.
This is where you need to be savvy when writing meta descriptions.
Google can choose not to display your meta description if it considers the snippet unrelated to the search term of users. You should keep a few main keywords in mind and incorporate them into your meta descriptions.
By including the main keywords, Google may see that it is relevant and display your meta descriptions.
Keywords do not only affect Google. People are more likely to visit your page if they can see the exact search term appear in front of their eyes.
Furthermore, Google highlights words or phrases that match the search terms, so including the main keywords will make your pages even more appealing.
With a rather small character limit, you may be inclined to write only the gist of your content for the meta description. However, it is highly beneficial to include some more information.
To stand out from other similar results in the SERPs, you need to incorporate something that only your site has into the meta description. There are multiple ways to do this, you can either include your company name or even a selling point of your products.
If your meta descriptions only summarize content generally, they are unlikely to catch the users’ eyes.
This should be a given, but there’s no harm in reminding you of the purpose of meta descriptions.
While it is appealing to use meta descriptions as a way to introduce or promote your business, you need to make sure that what you say is related to the content of your web pages.
There are two reasons why writing an unrelated meta description can go wrong:
Firstly, Google will know if you are trying to misdirect users with meta descriptions. They may not display your meta descriptions at all, or even worse, penalize you for it.
Secondly, when users click on your link and do not find what they need, they will click off. That will increase your bounce rate, which is the term for users accessing your page and leaving without completing a desired action (purchasing products, completing a form, etc.)
You can promote your business and products, but make sure to stay close to the actual content of the page.
Last but not least, make sure that your meta descriptions are unique. If all your pages have the same meta description, users will not be able to know the content unless they click on the links.
While generating a fixed meta description for every single page of your website sounds time-saving, you’re sacrificing quite a lot by doing so.
Not only will you miss out on a chance to promote your business and products in more ways than one, but you will also create a rather confusing experience for users on the SERPs.
Now that we have gone through seven vital requirements for a good meta description, let’s put them to good use and write your meta descriptions.
As a sales pitch for your web pages, meta descriptions can be a great way for you to promote your products. They play the role of advertising copy for your web pages.
What you should do is incorporate the main keywords (which are popular search terms that you are targeting) intelligently into the meta descriptions. “Intelligently” means including the chosen keywords naturally and flexibly.
The meta descriptions should promote the content and products of your business without being pushy and overwhelming for the users.
A meta description for any page should be different from your other web pages and of course, your competitors.
We have said before that using a pre-generated meta description for every webpage will create a very confusing experience for users. That will make them shy away from clicking on your links, considering that there are plenty of others on the SERPs that can potentially answer their questions.
So, if you have the resources to write a unique meta description for your pages, you should do it.
You can change up the word choices and sentence structures for pages with similar content, or choose to promote different selling points with different meta descriptions.
One final thing to note for meta descriptions is refraining from using double quotation marks.
In the HTML code, the meta description will be placed in double quotation marks. However, Google will see them as signs to remove the text from that point on.
So if you do not want your meta description to be omitted from the SERPs, do not use double quotation marks while writing it. You should avoid using anything other than alphanumeric characters.
Overall, meta descriptions are vital parts of a webpage and a great aspect to optimize in any SEO campaign.
The small snippet is very likely to appear on the SERPs and can help you attract more traffic from users. It has no direct correlation with ranking algorithms, but it can significantly improve your site’s CTR.
There are certain occasions when Google will display a random snippet of your content instead of the written meta description. This is why you should keep in mind a few pointers that we have given you throughout this article to optimize this small yet powerful element.
The next time you are posting content on your web pages, make sure to give the meta description extra attention as they are no less important than other aspects of a webpage.
With high-quality SEO services, On Digitals can provide you assistance in optimizing all SEO-related aspects and help you grow your online presence and yield outstanding results. From on-page aspects like meta descriptions to off-page ones like link building, we got you covered.
Contact On Digitals for support in your next campaign.