Meta descriptions are bits of text (150-160 characters long) which appear under the links in Google search pages. They are powerful SEO tools which help your website rank higher, improving your chances at finding customers through organic searches.
Although they are so short, meta descriptions are not easy to write. They must be meaningful, descriptive and promotional – all three in just two lines of text. Gifted copywriters can produce amazing meta descriptions in the first try, but for the rest of us it takes many tries. And, even after all these tries, the end result may not be satisfactory.
This is where we step in with helpful advice for all marketers and small business owners. We have analysed the rules of the game (what Google recommends) and looked at the best performing meta descriptions in several niches, and we have compiled a list of actionable rules to write meta descriptions.
- Write It in the Active Voice
A meta description must provoke an action – the action of clicking on the link. The active voice coupled with action verbs is the best mix for a meta description which earns the web page lots of clicks.
Imagine that you have the Google search results page with a dozen links. You have not heard of any of those companies and their products, because you are in the phase of initial search. What makes you pick one over the rest of the links? Most certainly, the meta description which makes you feel that this company has the answer to your needs and is confident in stating it.
- Make It Unique
Each meta description for each page of your website must contain unique content. Even if you have many similar pages (for example, pages for products in the same category) use different words in phrasing the meta description.
Google promotes pages which contain 100% unique content. Whenever they identify duplicate content, they will penalise the respective page by downgrading its rank. This means that other websites will be shown in Google search results ahead of your pages with duplicate meta descriptions.
- Include Your Focus Keyword
Meta descriptions have the key role of helping Google identify relevant websites for each search input from users. In order to improve your chances at matching a search with your website, you must be consistent in optimising each page for one main keyword, called the focus keyword.
When your keyword or key phrase perfectly matches the query term input by the user, this word/phrase will be highlighted in bold inside your meta description. In this way, the user has the confidence that they have got a match result for what they are looking for.
- Your Meta Description Must Match the Content of the Page
A long time ago, Google searches were becoming less and less relevant. This was happening because some companies started promoting popular keywords which had no connection to the actual content of their website. Everything for the clicks, as the saying goes.
But then Google started a major crackdown campaign against black hat SEO tactics like this one and now penalizes every website where there is a mismatch between meta descriptions, promoted keywords and the actual content of the page. Do not be tempted to add something extra apart from the actual content of your page in your description. Trying to trick Google never works.
- Finish Your Meta Description with a Call to Action
Looking at various top performing meta descriptions, we found that they all ended by telling users to do something: “find out more!”, “check out our offer!”, or even a simple “click here for more details” are simple and effective calls to action which will help you get more clicks to your page.
Last, but not least, since you will be writing lots of meta description for your entire website (one per each page), make sure that you have spotted and corrected all the typos and other grammatical errors.