Meta descriptions are a bit of a mystery for many business owners. Some believe that they are critical for SEO. Others think that you can do very well without them. The truth is somewhere in the middle: meta descriptions are not a ranking factor, but they can bring organic traffic to your site. And this is what ultimately matters for you. So, today we will teach you how to write meta descriptions that attract users’ attention and determine them to click on your site.
What Exactly Is the Role of Meta Descriptions?
First of all, let us clear all misconceptions about what meta descriptions are supposed to do. Their role is to provide a user with a summary of a web page in Google search result pages. As you know, there are 2 lines of text under each link that Google displays in a search.
That text is either the meta description created by the site owner, or a bit of truncated text from the first paragraph of the web page, generated by Google. The golden rule is to provide Google with this bit of text to display and not let the search engine generate it automatically. The reason for this is that many users skim through these short descriptions in order to decide which link to click on.
Thus, the main role of the meta description is to tell a potential page visitor what they expect to find on the site. If it is well written, the meta description can be the main factor which determines a user to visit your site, not your competitors’.
A Few Basic Rules on How to Write Meta Descriptions
The first thing you must remember is that Google limits the meta description length to 160 characters (including blank spaces). For mobile devices, the optimal length for a meta description is 155 characters.
So, the first thing you have to practice as you learn how to write meta description is the art of stripping down a sentence to capture the essence and remove all fluff. Remember, this is a bit of text that appears under your link on a page containing 10 more links with bits of text under them. Users are in the phase when they select which source of information to follow. They are not inclined to spend time deciphering the meaning of an obscure description.
With these ideas in mind, here are a few effective tips on how to write meta descriptions that generate clicks:
1. Use the Active Voice
In general, you should avoid the passive voice in copywriting for the web. You are not writing a novel, but text which should persuade consumers to take action. Thus, put everything in the active voice. If you don’t tell users to do something, they will just move along until another website gives them directions.
2. The Meta Description Must Summarise the Web Page Accurately
This rule on how to write meta description refers both to users and to Google. The search engine does not like misleading meta descriptions, which have little or nothing in common with the topic of the web page.
The same is true for users. If they land on a page whose content does not match the meta description, they will leave it immediately.
3. Use a Long Tail Keyword
Since you do not have a lot of space available, pick the keyword you want to use in the meta description carefully. It should be a long tail keyword and it must contain your location if you are a small business competing for ranking in local searches. In addition to the keyword, think of a few relevant terms that people might use in relation to your products and services and add them naturally in the meta description.
Here is an example of how it is done: a well known producer of smartbands managed to include the following terms in a single meta description:
4. Match the Meta Description with Your Customer’s Journey
If you want to know how to write meta descriptions that really work, make sure that they match the user’s intention you cater for in the content. As you create topics for each stage of the customer’s journey, make sure that the wording of the meta description is a perfect match for this intent.
Thus, words like “learn” and “discover” are ideal for the top of the funnel – users who are just discovering your brand and products. Terms like “try”, “buy” and “join” are a better fit for meta descriptions you write for leads at the bottom of the funnel – those who are ready to make their first purchase.
5. Add a CTA in the Meta Description
As well as writing in the active voice, you should encourage the user to take action. The simplest way of doing it is by ending your meta description with “learn more” or “click here for more”.
However, you should strive to diversify the CTAs for your meta descriptions as much as possible.
6. Do Not Use Duplicate Meta Description
Here’s another critical tip in our list on how to write meta descriptions: do not get lazy and use the same meta description, even for similar pages. This happens mostly on online stores, where similar products in a category get individual web pages. In some cases, the site displays boilerplate meta descriptions provided by the producer.
Google does not like duplicate content anywhere, including in meta descriptions. Also, if you get two similar pages showing up for a search result, users will notice the identical descriptions and think that you are not truly professional.
7. Keep the Brand Voice in the Meta Description
We know that writing a very short text is challenging, but you must not forget to use your usual brand voice. Consider the meta description a part of your web page, not just an appendix that you add for ranking purposes (as explained above, the meta description is not a ranking factor).
Thus, our final advice on how to write meta descriptions that bring clicks to your site is this: take your time and do not hurry up to finish writing the meta description. Do not leave it as an afterthought.