Posted on June 13, 2014
A meta description is the 160 character snippet used to summarize a web page’s content.
When shown in search results, meta descriptions let potential visitors know what a page is about before they click on it. Meta descriptions won’t impact your page’s ranking on a site like Google, but will help you stand out from competing pages.
If you’re not familiar with meta descriptions, don’t worry.
In this post, we will look at simple tips for writing and implementing meta descriptions that will get more clicks, better traffic, and an entirely new way to help you do more business.
Here are three tips to keep in mind:
Tip 1 – Make each page’s meta description unique
There are some content management systems (the tools you use to build your website) that allow you to add a default meta description to your homepage, but then once you save it, that same meta description is applied to every single page of your website.
This is not a good thing because the search engines don’t like seeing duplicates. Plus that single meta description is not going to be relevant to the content of every page.
You should instead create unique meta descriptions that are relevant to the content of each page. For example, if you’re a boutique cookbook store selling a variety of cookbooks online, there’s a big difference between a Thai cookbook and an Italian cookbook. You wouldn’t want to use the “Thai cookbook” keyword on an Italian cookbook page.
Go through each of your pages individually and write a completely unique description based on their content, not what your entire website has to offer. If you have similar pages — such as a separate page for each product you sell — create a formula to systematically craft unique descriptions based on product name, brand, or color.
The formula would look something like this if you were selling phone accessories — “Come buy your new red iPhone case today.” The bolded information is what you would switch out depending on the products.
Tip 2 – Implement relevant keywords based on the audience you want to attract
Although meta descriptions don’t have an impact on search result rankings, it’s still important that they contain relevant keywords so you attract the right people to your pages — the people who will become your customers.
Google (and most other major search engines) will bold search queries in the title and description of websites that appear in the search results. Because of this, you should incorporate targeted keywords (and your location, if relevant) into your meta descriptions. If a word or phrase in your description matches the original search, the bold terms will likely catch the eye of the searcher.
For example, I conducted a search for “doughnuts in Raleigh” and I found one of my favorite doughnut shops, Daylight Doughnuts. Here’s what their homepage Search Engine Results Page (or SERP) entry looks like:
- BEST Raleigh doughnuts (relevant location and product)
- muffins (relevant product)
- fresh from scratch (relevant action)
- Stonehenge Market (location)
- Raleigh, NC (location)
The keywords that are bolded show what matched my query. Here are some tips you can use to find your most valuable keywords to add to your meta descriptions.
Tip 3 – Think of your meta descriptions as short advertisements meant to attract your best new customers
You’ve probably noticed how similar in format the organic search results are to the paid search results. In both results, you have complete control of the page title and meta description.
There’s one key difference between the two that’s important for small businesses to understand — you don’t have to pay anyone when someone clicks on your organic search results.
Here’s the difference between a paid ad and an organic listing for the query “insurance in Raleigh”:
Next time you sit down to write meta descriptions, try adding language like click here, learn more by clicking here, and click on this result. Obviously the context of the webpage will determine the wording you choose like: download here, view video, etc.
An ideal meta description should read as a brief, engaging sentence. It’s meant to grab the searcher’s attention, spark their interest in your web page, and encourage them to find out more by clicking on the entry. It’s easy to get carried away, but be sure to keep meta descriptions between 150 and 160 characters as anything longer will be truncated and hidden from view.
Increase your search engine click-through rates and build your audience with relevant meta descriptions.
Without a defined meta description tag, search engines will find text in the content of the page for the description, which may or may not be a good representation of your site/page.
Taking the time to make each meta description unique, keyword-rich, and attractive to your target audience will result in increased search engine click-throughs, more traffic to your site, and more customers for your business.