If you want to boost your popularity in search results, improving your meta descriptions is a great place to begin. Compelling, keyword-focused snippets will tell your audience exactly what your content is all about and what they’re missing by not clicking.
Below, we’re going to provide you with proven tips for how to write compelling Meta descriptions that will boost your rankings. With a few key adjustments, you can expect to see a surge in web traffic and discover for yourself that dominating Google search results is possible for anyone.
A meta description is an attribute of HTML that describes the content on a web page.
Whenever you enter a keyword or phrase into a search engine, a list of results will appear. The main clickable link features the headline. Below this, you will find the meta description. While the meta description serves a variety of purposes, it effectively acts as advertising copy to win users over to your website versus the other results.
You must manually enter a meta description either through HTML or by using built-in tools offered by your CMS (content management system). You can generally find the place to enter your meta description under your SEO settings along with your topic and URL. Meta descriptions should be no longer than 160 characters, and you should aim between 120 and 150 characters.
It may surprise you to learn that the meta description is one of the few things that does not directly impact search rankings. By that, we mean that crawlers are focusing on the content, tags, and links featured on the page itself. So, why do meta descriptions matter when it comes to rankings on search engine results pages?
Meta descriptions play a significant role in clickthrough rates. If given the choice between a result with an attractive description and promising information versus a boring description that’s unclear, users will always choose the carefully crafted one. What Google is interested in are the pages that more users are choosing to engage with. When more people click on a website, Google weighs this into consideration, they can more easily determine which websites have a higher quality of content and are more deserving of higher rankings.
Whether or not a meta description directly impacts the search algorithm directly or indirectly is inconsequential. The ultimate goal when seeking higher rankings is to get more clicks and a well-crafted meta description is proven to achieve just that.
Improving the quality of your meta descriptions is not difficult if you know what works best. Start employing the key suggestion below if you want to start boosting your rankings the right way.
Your meta description should always help to describe exactly what the reader will find when they click on your link. This is not an opportunity to misdirect or deceive users into clicking through by making false promises. Google’s main priority is to help users find the most pertinent and valuable data that relates to their queries. Being dishonest with your descriptions will adversely affect your website. Those types of clicks will also negatively impact your bounce rate.
Instead, explain to the user what’s waiting for them on the other side of the link. Remember that you have between 120 and 150 characters. Focus on the highlights, make use of your primary keyword, and trust that your content is worth viewing.
Even though you must describe the content accurately, that doesn’t mean you need to give away all of the most valuable material right away. Just as you would do with any other form of marketing, you want to give away just enough to inspire interest without giving away the entire product. The meta description naturally lends itself to this concept due to its naturally short length.
Let’s look at an example. If someone is searching “how to draw” and your result is on the first page, what sounds more appealing?
Example A: “Anyone can learn how to draw whether they are talented or not. Drawing is a skill, just like reading or cooking, or playing soccer. Sure, some people seem to…”
Example B: “Here is where you’ll find every single one of our how-to-draw lessons! It’s a massive drawing library! You’ll find lessons for young and old kids.”
These meta descriptions come from actual search results. The first is a result that’s relegated to page four. It appears that the webmaster failed to create a meta description, leaving Google to retrieve its snippet from the actual on-page content. While it is still relevant to our search, the snippet features vague statements that don’t compel us to learn more.
The second meta description is from our number one result. Even though it’s not the most eloquent description, it tells us exactly what they’re promising. By clicking their link, you’re not only going to learn how to draw, but you will gain access to an entire library that accommodates all age groups. The description is unquestionably better, and we can assume that their clickthrough rate is quite high as a result of their ranking.
Use this premise to highlight the value you’re offering to the user with just one click of your link.
Not only is a meta description another opportunity to incorporate your target keyword, but the entire phrase will also be highlighted in bold to grab the user’s attention. When competing with other results, you always need to focus on doing what you can to pull eyes to your link. A user is far more likely to skim past results without a bolded keyword or phrase than ones that have them.
However, this does not mean you should pack keywords into your description. Always keep in mind that you have limited characters to work with, and stuffing keywords into that space seems obvious, off-putting, and makes your text read poorly. Google is also not fond of keyword stuffing, so it’s best to avoid this practice no matter where you are typing.
Duplicate content always makes a poor impression. At worst, it can result in penalties that lower your SEO score. At best, it makes your brand appear lazy, negligent, and uninspired.
Take the time to review your website and check for any pages that might share identical meta descriptions. Revise each description to reflect the content that the user will find on the page and avoid overgeneralized descriptions that fail to do this.
Though there are circumstances in which experts can argue for allowing an auto-populated description, writing your own each time you create a page or post an article is the best way to avoid this problem.
Writing a meta description should be similar to writing short-form ad copy. In that regard, you should take advantage of the opportunity to promote value to your audience. If you’re providing a special offer, a promotion, an opportunity for free materials, be sure to highlight this in the description.
A great way to do this is to make use of value terms or phrases such as “the most popular,” “the best available,” or “highly-rated.” Consider that users have already expressed interest in your offerings by searching for the keywords you are ranking for. Take advantage of that innate interest by demonstrating the value you offer over your competitors.
A/B testing will always serve as an excellent way to see what works with actual numbers to support it. Instead of writing a description and calling it a day, work with your team to create two or more variations of a description for each page.
This will allow you to explore different methods of advertising your content. It may surprise you to see how a slight variation to a sentence or the inclusion of a new keyword can attract more clicks.
Set your initial meta description and allow that page to run long enough to gather data with Google Analytics. It will generally take several weeks to gather enough input to make an actionable decision. Then, change only the meta description and leave the content on the page the same. Test your new description and see what earns you a better clickthrough rate.
Not only will this research boost the performance of that single page, but you can also use the knowledge gained from A/B testing to craft better meta descriptions in the future that appeal to your unique audience.
Meta descriptions may not be a direct factor in Google’s ranking algorithm, but it nevertheless has a tremendous impact on your site’s SEO value. It is your opportunity to advertise your content, intrigue the reader, and entice them with your unique proposition value.
Effective keyword usage will also support a clear description by highlighting the exact phrases the user is searching for. Including unique meta descriptions for each page will also provide each of your website pages with an opportunity to demonstrate its own, unique value. If you ever have any doubts about the right direction for your meta description, always defer to A/B testing and allow the analytics to speak for themselves.
By staying conscious of these tips each time you create a new page or write a new blog post, you, too, can boost your rankings.
One final tip – take time to search for topics that interest you. Study the top results and consider how those brands take advantage of our proven tips as well as the unique things they do that are unique to their style. To be the best, you need to learn from the best. In doing so, ranking your site at number one can become a real possibility.