How to Create Better Meta Descriptions

by Maggie Munley

A meta-what?

Before we dive into how to generate and create the perfect meta descriptions, let’s first cover exactly what it is.

For those of you who think you may not know, you probably actually do but maybe just aren’t familiar with the correct term for it. Meta descriptions are those ~160-character snippets embedded into a tag in HTML that basically summarizes a page’s content. I can practically hear you on the other side of the screen saying, “oh right!” We’ve all written and used them before. But have we always been optimizing them to generate the best results?

Meta descriptions are as important as they are because search engines show these descriptions in search results. Certain descriptions and keywords then become that much more important if you want your content to rank higher. You want to use those keywords and phrases that your audience is searching for, and you want that meta description to be as spot-on as possible to best suit your audience’s needs.

That’s why optimizing for the perfect meta descriptions is a very important aspect of SEO.

So now that we’ve covered the basics of meta descriptions, now let’s discuss how to create them.

1. Keywords, keywords, keywords!

I mentioned keywords were important, right? The perfect meta description should contain at least one keyword or key phrase, though it oftentimes doesn’t hurt to throw in two or three. If the keyword search matches the text in your meta description, Google is more likely to use your meta description and highlight it in the search results.

2. Call-to-Action

Your meta description should have some sort of call-to-action, whether it be loud and bold or subtle. Essentially, the meta description is a place for you to emphasize your main point, but in only so many words. Invite your readers to further explore what it is you have to say. You want people to read your content, right? More importantly, you want them to visit your site. Give them some incentive to further explore and learn what you’re all about. It doesn’t hurt to provide a solution or benefit to your readers. Let the searcher know what to expect when clicking on your link. The last thing anyone wants is to be deceived and click the ‘back’ button just to re-scroll through endless search results. This is a great chance to sell them on what you have to offer.

3. Meta Descriptions Should Resonate with Your Content

Well this one seems obvious enough, doesn’t it? But I can’t stress how important it is that your meta descriptions directly correspond with the correlated content it is attached with. Google finds meta descriptions that can sometimes trick visitors into clicking. In turn, it an increase bounce rates, which is not a good thing. Think of your meta description as a shorter version of your content. Summarize what you think is most important, sprinkle in a keyword or two and you’re good to go.

4. Dare to be Different

Your meta description is a safe-zone for uniqueness. It’s OK to make it conversational, relatable and friendly. Use your voice. Do not duplicate your descriptions. They should be written differently for every page. Google can actually penalize you for mass duplicating your descriptions, so that’s something to stay away from.

5. Keep it Short and Sweet

Not that you have much of a choice, as meta descriptions can only be so long anyway…but having that said, less is more. Fun fact: Google doesn’t actually measure by characters *gasp!* Google measures by pixels. What this means is that your meta description will be cut off after a certain link, which is why ~160 characters serves as a general benchmark when creating meta descriptions.

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