Writing a Good Meta Descriptions for SEO
Content is not the only thing to improve the value of a webpage. There are also hidden HTML attributes and Meta data that you can add to the back end of a webpage to send useful signals to both search engines and users.
An important part of those text snippets are SEO Meta descriptions. Now we are going to go a little bit in a different direction to talk about Meta descriptions.
What Is a SEO Meta Description?
The Meta description is the short paragraph of text placed in the HTML of a webpage that describes its content.
Meta descriptions are the most important part of search engine optimisation that do not have anything to do with rankings.
Text from SEO Meta descriptions also appears on search engine results pages (SERPs).
The blurb is a part of a larger snippet that also includes a:
- Title Tag: A page title that is added to the HTML. This page title can be different from the headline that appears on the page.
- Slug: The URL for the page.
- Meta description: The short paragraph of text placed in the HTML of a webpage that describes its content.
The title tag appears in a web browser tab and the title tag and Meta description are often featured on social media posts that share the page.
You can add a Meta description in the <head> section of your site’s HTML. It should look something like this:
<meta name=”description” content=”Here is a precise description of your webpage.”>
You should have complete control of your meta description in your CMS especially if you are using WordPress.
If you use a WordPress site and have an SEO plug-in like Yoast you can skip dealing with the html entirely. Just add a meta description to the ‘meta description’ section and you can preview an example of how it will look in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
When adding a meta description to each page on your website, this makes it easier for Google to decide what to display in the description section of the SERP for your webpage.
In some cases, Google may not pull from the meta description you provided but from the text on your webpage instead.
Nonetheless providing your own meta description is still a valuable part of on-site optimisation for the search engines.
A Meta description does not give any weight in how search engine algorithms decide which websites to rank for certain terms. Getting that meta description right would not make any difference in terms of the search engine algorithm but it is still important?
Because your ultimate goal is not rankings, it is clicks. The whole point is to drive more clicks to your website and your meta description will persuade searchers to click on your website instead of your competitors.
A good meta description can increase your click-through rate (CTR). While Google does not admit that CTR is a ranking factor in the search results but most SEO experts are convinced that CTR does influence rankings.
A strong meta description can directly increase traffic and indirectly increase your rankings which makes spending time on your meta descriptions well worth it.
Below is a checklist of how to write a great SEO Meta description:
Meta description checklist
Keywords: Make sure your important primary keywords for the webpage show up in the meta description. Quite often search engines will highlight in bold where it finds the users query in your snippet.
Write legible clear readable copy: This is essential. Stuffing keywords into your meta description is bad and it does not help the user since it assumes your website is spammy and untrustworthy.
Ensure your description reads like a normal human written sentence.
Treat meta description as an advert for your web-page: Make it compelling and relevant as possible. The description MUST match the content on the page and also appealing to users to enable them to find you.
Length: Meta description should be between 70 – 150 characters long. Any longer and search engines will chop the end off so make sure any important keywords are nearer the front.
Include a call to action. Treat your meta description as a piece of your customer’s journey and use language that guides users to take the next step. Include a call to action that encourages them to act.
Meta descriptions should not be duplicated: As with title tags, the meta descriptions must be written differently for every page. Google may penalise you for mass duplication of your meta descriptions.
Consider using rich snippets: By using schema mark ups you can add elements to the snippets to increase their appeal like star ratings, customer ratings, product information, calorie counts etc.
Support meta descriptions with strong page titles. Unlike meta descriptions, meta title tags do have an impact on SEO rankings. This SEO content plays an important role in catching the attention of users and target audiences.
So to support your meta descriptions you also need to use a strong meta page title:
- Use the keyword but do not overuse it.
- Place the keyword near the front of the title.
- Focus on target audience not just search engines.
- Show benefits and values.
- Include your brand name when relevant.
- Ideally should be between 50 to 60 characters long.
- Write unique page titles for each page.
As with meta descriptions you should not duplicate title tags for any of your pages.
Do not use quotation marks. Since SEO meta descriptions are included in the HTML you must be careful not to break the HTML language by using characters.
One of the most commonly characters that causes a problems is the double quotation mark. Double quotation marks “quote” can cause problems in meta descriptions so avoid using them.
If you must use a quote then use a single quotation mark ‘quote’ instead.
Space is limited with regards to meta descriptions hence you have to make every word count.
Here are some of the best practices to follow to write a good meta descriptions for SEO that will do the job.
Each page of your website should have a unique meta description that accurately describes that page’s content and the primary keyword targeting that page..
Writing meta descriptions can be a time consuming hence you should take time to sort out your pages into priority and create new meta descriptions accordingly.
Do not write one meta description for your website and copy and paste it on every page.
That might be easy but it would mean a wasted opportunity to sell what is on each individual page to the target audience searching for the information it provides.
Remember that each page title needs to be a unique summary of the page and not deceptive.
If your meta description is inaccurate Google may opt to use its own meta description taken from that page’s content which could reduce click-through rate significantly.
Always remember to include your Unique Selling Points (USP) and some powerful trigger words and phrases.
We recommend that your meta descriptions are no longer than 130 characters as of July 2019. That is the maximum number of characters you should use or part of your description will inevitably be cut off.
Similar to long page titles, long meta descriptions will also be truncated by Google.
Therefore for each page always consider the most important message you want to convey to get your target audience to click through to your page.
If you only need only 100 characters to really sell what is on that page then do not prolong your meta description to use the full space.
However in a lot of cases having 130 characters to work with will give you more room to say what you need more persuasively to take advantage where needed.
Use unique focus keywords.
You should include focus keywords in your page title and meta description. This increases the chance that a user will spot the search query or keyword phrase they are looking for.
Starting each meta description with the right target keywords can be effective at increasing the click-through rate of a page.
Alternatively starting with some powerful trigger words mentioned above can also increase click-through rate so change and test your description until you find something that works.
When you look at the meta descriptions in the Google search results, you will notice that anywhere the words included in your search show up in bold. This helps the user to quickly spot which results are most relevant.
For the websites showing the results in bold is a way to stand out and draw the user’s eye to your result.
Google also truncates or shortens meta descriptions that are too long depending on the device used. For this reason always keep your focus keywords at the beginning of your meta description so they are not cut off at the end by accident.
Do not force your keywords. Keyword stuffing can make your meta description more confusing than helpful and end up hurting you.
Maintain the active voice.
Active language is when the subject of the sentence is taking action and is more interesting and easy to visualise and understand.
Therefore it is always important to ensure that content writing is maintained in active voice as much as possible. Write meta descriptions in active voice to help engage readers and hold their attention.
Emphasise the value on the page.
The whole point of your meta description is to work as a sales pitch for the web page. For each page carefully consider the biggest benefit it provides to visitors. That is what you want to emphasise in your meta description.
Describe how the content on your page offers the perfect answer to the user’s query whether that is in the form of information, a product or a service.
Write in the language your target audience wants to see and hear. Try to avoid too much business language since businesses do not buy products or services – target audiences do so write for them.
Make sure you think about it from the visitor’s point of view here. What problems does your web page content solve for them? What questions do they have that it answers?
And most importantly what makes your page better than the similar results they will see alongside you on the SERPs.
Represent the page accurately.
Make sure your meta description accurately reflects what visitors will see when they click through to your page.
Gaining a click by misleading the user in the first instance is a not good. You risk losing the user’s trust and will likely gain an increased bounce rate on your website. So make sure that your webpage can deliver on any claims you make in your meta description.
Always include a Call To Action (CTA).
Calls to action often work best when they encourage people to do something active. Use some of the characters in your meta description to urge people to click with action terms like Learn how, Read more, Get It Free or Discover Now.
Use schema rich snippet
One of the changes to the SERPs since Google started has been the rise of rich snippets. While they do not show up for every search however for a number of types of searches you will see additional information included in the SERP listing.
Rich snippets are search results that go beyond the basics. They are by definition – a richer result than the ordinary. Snippets may include additional information about your hours, contact details, reviews, pricing, location, star-rating, product availability and more.
Snippets typically appear for queries about specific people, businesses, products, reviews, recipes, events, music and video.
Using structured data markup added to your site HTML – you provide the search engines more information to better understand the content and intent of each page.
Get familiar with the different types of rich snippets and make it a habit to include schema data markup on any web pages where the extra information is relevant and valuable to searchers.
Make sure to proofread all your web pages, content and your meta descriptions before they go live.
If you are writing lots of meta descriptions this simple step can easily be forgotten but if your big sales pitch on the SERP includes an embarrassing error that could lose you clicks and hurt your reputation.
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Although meta descriptions is just a small part of doing SEO well on your website nevertheless it is very important. This will strengthen your website’s chances of landing those coveted top spots in the search rankings on Google.
You can contact our skilled SEO professionals at Best-Digital Marketing. We know how to implement all the necessary SEO strategies and more to enable you to start ranking on Google.
It will save you lots of time and work and will also net better results. Contact us now to learn how Best- Digital Marketing specialist with creative knowledge and experience can help your business improve your Meta description for SEO.
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How to Write a Good Meta Description for SEO