When I talk to business owners about what they can do to boost their content marketing efforts, they’re often surprised when I mention meta descriptions.
“What, that little bit of text on the Google search result? How is that going to bring me more traffic?”
That little bit of text can actually be a powerful tool, in more than one sense.
When it comes to boosting your online presence, everything you do can increase your chances of ranking and reaching new audiences, no matter how big or small. Meta descriptions are one of those smaller actions that are all-too forgettable, but can have a big impact on both your ranking chances and user’s experience of your brand.
So, if you’re wondering how to write a meta description that’ll do those things for your business online or you’ve never heard of one before, I’m about to open your eyes. We’re going to look at the importance of these little snippets, how they can help build your online presence and how exactly you can write a good meta description!
A Quick Intro to Meta Descriptions
So, for those of you who aren’t familiar with meta descriptions, we’ll start with a quick introduction. Meta descriptions and meta titles (often referred to as meta tags, together) are short snippets of text that summarise the content of a web page. These snippets appear in the coding of a webpage, and also on a Google SERP (search engine results page).
They’re made up of a title and description, which together should provide users with enough information to decide whether they want to click on a particular search result.
The Importance of Meta Descriptions and Titles
I’ll admit, meta descriptions are a pretty small piece of information in the big world of content. But even the smallest cog in a machine is crucial for it to function properly, right? And that’s exactly what meta descriptions do for your content.
If you think of your content strategy as a machine, all the smaller touches like meta descriptions and images help things run smoothly when it comes to achieving those main goals of reaching new customers and providing the best experience for them. The smaller things are often the very ones that will make your website stand out from others and get you those clicks.
Meta descriptions are crucial pieces of content when it comes to making your website experience seamless. As the first thing users see on the Google SERP, you can look at meta descriptions as the first impression someone gets of your business when they find you through a Google search. So you have to make it count, because a good meta description can make the difference between them clicking on your website’s link or a competitor’s.
Meta Descriptions Entice Your Readers
One of the main benefits of having effective, engaging meta descriptions on your web page is that they will entice your readers to click on your search result. When a user is presented with countless options on a Google SERP all offering the same thing, meta descriptions can be the thing that makes your result stand out and win their attention.
They Can Help Your Content Rank
Meta descriptions themselves aren’t a direct ranking factor on Google, but they are indirectly. The more clicks you get on your website on a Google SERP, the more attention Google will pay to you and more likely it is to rank you higher.
And there’s a small SEO benefit when you add in your targeted keyword to your meta descriptions. This is known as optimising meta descriptions, which we’ll look at later on.
What Makes a Good Meta Description?
It Provides the Right Amount of Information
When we’re talking about providing the right amount of information, I mean it in two ways. Firstly, you want to make your description as detailed as you can so that your reader knows what to expect when they click on your website.
But you also need to literally include the right amount of information in terms of characters. Google cuts off meta descriptions at 160 characters, so it’s best practice to keep your descriptions under this threshold. If not, your description will be cut off by an ellipsis on the Google search engine results page. If this happens, it doesn’t matter how well written or engaging your description is because the user won’t be able to finish reading it!
As you can see from the snippet below, the meta description for Apple’s homepage isn’t too long, so the reader can read right to the end of the page’s description.
In comparison, this description from Chilly’s goes over the 160 character count so there’s an ellipses after the cut off point.
It Boosts SEO
As we’ve already covered, meta descriptions have the potential to help you rank higher on search engines if you use them right. So a well-written meta description is also an optimised one!
It Intrigues Your Reader
Your meta description is working if it gives your reader all the information they need to decide to click on your website, and intrigues them a little too! So don’t be afraid to use emotive language, and a call to action to really guide your user to the point of clicking. This will make more sense when I explain how to write a meta description next.
How to Write a Meta Description
So, now you understand the importance of meta descriptions and how they can boost your marketing efforts, let’s write one! All this knowledge is useless unless you know how to execute it, after all.
The first part of a meta description is the title. This should be less than 600 pixels wide, which translates to about 60 – 70 characters. You can use a SERP generator to check you’ve got the right length. Here are some best practices when writing meta titles:
- Include your brand name in the title
- Make use of pins to separate bits of information
Example: How to Write a Meta Description | Blog | Your Brand Found
The description is where you can get into a little more detail about what content is on your web page. Google’s cut off point is at 160 characters, so aim for a description that’s between 150 and 160 characters long. Again, you can use a SERP generator or the character counter on your document! Here are some best practices for writing meta descriptions:
- Stick to the right length of under 160 characters
- Use engaging language
- Include a call to action at the end of the description
Example: For those wondering how to write a meta description that will win you clicks, I’ve covered everything you need to know. Learn how you can get more traffic now.
How to Optimise a Meta Description
If you’re ahead of the game and have already written meta descriptions for your pages but they’re not optimised, I’m afraid the work isn’t completely done if you want to get the best out of your meta descriptions!
Optimising your meta descriptions is more for SEO purposes than anything else, and can increase your chances of winning your user’s click by 5.8%! So, it means making sure you’ve included your keyword or key phrase in your meta description. Doing so gives you a little SEO boost as it’s a key part of a web page that Google crawls. When Google sees that you’ve included your keyword in the meta description too, it’s like one more point to you when Google’s deciding which results pages to display for certain search terms.
You only need to insert your keyword once in the meta description, and remember to make it sound natural. It’ll sound weird to both Google and potential customers if you’ve just randomly added in your keyword to your meta description without context!
Meta Descriptions: An Overlooked and Underrated Content Tool
Part of the reason why meta descriptions are so effective is because of how overlooked they are. There are so many companies out there who forget to write meta tags for their pages so are unknowingly reducing the effectiveness of their digital marketing efforts.
When you don’t write your meta tags, search engines will often write them for you by taking a snippet of the content on that page as your meta description. And that often doesn’t sufficiently summarise the content on that page because it takes the first sentence, which often is your introduction. You can prevent this from happening if you write your own meta descriptions, and make sure you write them well using the knowledge you’ve picked up here!
If meta descriptions aren’t your area of expertise and you want someone to take care of them for you, then head over to Writefully to order your own bespoke content bundle now.