One of the first steps in understanding search engine optimization is knowing how search engines display your website. A meta description, also called a snippet, is the chunk of information that appears below a page link on the search engine results pages (SERP).
When it comes to the role meta descriptions play in SEO, they are very important in driving traffic to your website from a search engine results page. This snippet of content is one of your first and last opportunities to grab the searcher’s attention, and get them to click through to your website. Here are six tips from our team of SEO specials that will get you on your way to writing killer meta descriptions.
1) Write with targeted keywords – If there are any search keywords present in your meta description, they will appear in bold. This helps show the reader if your content is relevant for what they searching. It is highly recommended that each page of your content be optimized for a specific keyword. Therefore, using that keyword in that page’s meta description not only helps explain what the page is about, but it will help show relevance to the searcher.
2) Know the recommended length – Sure, you could write a 200+ character meta description, but only 156 characters will be visible. It would be in your best interest to stop at 156 characters. Search engines will cut off your description and include ellipses, which is not only frustrating for searchers, but also shows incompetence in SEO. Writing short, captivating descriptions will work in your favor, so make every character count!
3) Be descriptive and actionable – Your meta descriptions should give searchers a good understanding of what they are about to click on, but don’t leave it up to them to decide on their own. Summarize your content and consider including a call-to-action to give them that extra little push onto your page. Using words like “Learn”, “Discover”, or “Grab” elicits the value of clicking through.
4) Make it relevant and specific – Those 156 characters can be a powerful marketing tool — if you use them right. Many brands make the mistake of generalizing their meta descriptions to describe what their entire site is about. Instead, keep your meta description specific to each individual page, avoiding any extra “fluff” at all costs.
5) Inspire curiosity – Another common mistake brands make is putting the meat of their content right in the meta description, so searchers don’t even need to click, because they’ve got their answer. Give searchers enough information to understand what the page is about, what value is holds for them if they click through, but leave them curious enough to feel they need to click-through to get the goods.
6) Avoid duplicate meta descriptions – Just as each page on your website serves a unique purpose, so should their meta descriptions. To keep it as relevant as possible, summarize the content on each page instead of generalizing the description of your entire website.