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SEO has evolved tremendously, and that’s a big deal for digital marketers around the globe.
You’ve most probably heard this a hundred times – when it comes to creating for search engine optimization (SEO), it’s crucial that you always write for the user FIRST and the search engine next. This couldn’t be more true when it comes to writing compelling and action-oriented meta descriptions for your individual web pages.
When it comes to using content to improve the value of a webpage, it isn’t all about the copy on the page. There are also hidden HTML attributes and metadata details that you can add to the back end of a webpage to send useful signals to both search engines and users.
Meta descriptions play a big role in search results. In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, a meta description is the snippet of information below the link of a search result. In essence, the description tag is a short paragraph that describes accurately and succinctly so that the users and Googlebot can understand what the content of the web page is about.
It’s purpose is to describe the contents of the page to the searcher. The end goal is to convince and persuade the searcher to click through to your website. Any words that match the search term are bolded in the description.
Before that, I would like to emphasize that although Google no longer uses meta description 100% of the time, it is still an opportunity you wouldn’t want to miss to massively improve your reader’s user experience.
Take a look at the image below that shows you the basic anatomy of a search result and where the meta description fits in.
If the meta title helps the readers understand what the main subject of the paragraph is, the meta description helps the the readers understand clearly what the content of your site is about.
Here’s a meta description example that appears when people share your articles across other websites and social channels like Facebook, Twitter or Google+.
More often than not, meta descriptions can have a significant impact on your search engine optimization efforts. Google’s final words on meta description is “Use quality descriptions.” Keep in mind that having high-quality descriptions can be displayed in Google’s search results, and is beneficial for your website. Here’s a pretty extensive literature by Google about the implementation and best practices of meta descriptions, if you’re interested to know more.
So now that we’re on the same page and you’re fully equipped with the knowledge of what a meta description is, let’s break it down to see if you really need one.
It is a well known fact that the percentage of clicks will consistently drop as you go further down the page, because logically, a more relevant result will be placed at the top of the search engine results. While an SEO meta description won’t increase a page’s search rankings on its own, the results of a well-crafted meta description can boost a page’s rankings. When a link is frequently clicked on in, it sends signals to search engines telling them that a page is important and has relevancy that users prefer.
This makes having a detailed, relevant and eye-catching meta description much more important. In short, the better your meta description, the more likely it is for you to have good click through rates from organic search.
2. “Sell” Your Content
Although it is debated that the meta description doesn’t affect the ranking your web page, the side effects of a well-crafted one certainly can. A well-written meta description have been proven to increase click-through rate, and in some instances time spent on the web page, and these metric DO play a part in the algorithmic rankings.
3. The right message, the right people, the right time
Google uses meta descriptions to return results when searches use advanced search operators to match meta tag content, as well as to pull preview snippets on search result pages, but it’s important to note that meta descriptions do not influence Google’s ranking algorithms for normal web search.
4. Boost Visits From Social
Social sharing sites like Facebook commonly use a page’s description tag when the page is shared on their sites. Without the meta description tag, social sharing sites may just use the first text they can find. Depending on the first text on your page, this might not create a good user experience for users encountering your content via social sharing.
I see writing meta description as a legitimate exercise in effective sales copywriting. It should do everything possible to drive someone to make that decision and click. Here’s how you can write meta descriptions that are clear, helpful and stand out to your readers.
1. Write between 135 and 160 characters.
There is no ‘this number is right’ in this. It depends on what Google adds to your search result and how much they want to show. The reason I say 135 is to give a benchmark to abide by. But to fit within the most common range of length, write a copy that is between 135 to 160 characters.
2. It should be actionable, in an active voice
Well, of course. Passive language, when the subject of the sentence is being acted upon, is boring. Active language, when the subject of the sentence is taking action, is interesting and easy to visualize and understand. Therefore, an important content writing tip is to maintain the active voice as much as possible.
3. Include a call to action
Treat your meta description as a piece of your customer’s journey and use language that guides users to take the next step. Include a call to action that encourages them to act. Invitations like Learn more, Get it now, Try for free come to mind. At the same time, incorporating a short CTA or offer somewhere in your meta description is a great way to boost your click-through rate and be your answer to standing out from your competition.
Here’s a look at what Fave uses in their description. See how they introduce their offers?
4. Include the page’s targeted keyword
If the search keyword matches text in the meta description, Google will be more inclined to use that meta description and highlight it in the search results. This is basically where you want the words which will take you to the top of the search engine result page to be. Your keywords are important – even if you take away all of the other words, the user should be able to know what your site is about when they read your relevant keywords.
5. It should be unique on its own
Each meta description and page title you create should be unique. If it is duplicated, the user experience in Google will be less. Do not use the same phrases or language for multiple rich snippets.
6. Provide value propositions
For every meta description you write you need to be mindful of what the user will be thinking: “Yeah, but, what’s in for me?” This is where you specific value proposition comes into play and should be utilized to clearly articulate what specifically you have to offer in relation to the particular service or product you’re writing a page description for.
In this example, the SEOPressor tells readers how the post will help them (“for better search and inbound marketing”)
Let’s say you have done everything that needs to be done beforehand, so what’s the next step? If you are using WordPress on a self-hosted domain, you are in luck. Set up META settings with SEOPressor Connect!
Step 1: In your blog post, go to the Meta tab
Meta tags are the key points that your article is talking about and helps rank it in search engine result pages.
For example, my blog title is “Keyword Research – Here’s How Anyone Can Get Started”. I have to make sure that my meta description describes it, so that my readers like you know what they are clicking on.
Step 2: Key in Your Title Tag and Meta Description
You can also see how many characters are there for your Title and Meta Description. Keep your Title under 55 characters, and Meta Description no more than 160 characters.
Step 3 : Once you’re done, you can click the ‘Preview’ button to see how they are displayed on Google
This is what the preview looks like.
Writing a good meta description isn’t a one-time operation. Try doing regular reviews and rewrites. As with landing page optimization, it’s crucial that the resulting search CTR is regularly reviewed and re-optimized to ensure that everything has been done to increase the chances of earning a click over the competition – especially in cases where matching the authority of a domain is hard.
Having the best title within the search engine result page could earn more clicks than a lower ranking page might otherwise generate. Don’t settle for an okay meta and always ensure that you’ve followed every step mentioned above no matter how long the process takes.
For further readings on this topic, here’s another blog post to boost up your knowledge “How to Increase Traffic By 286% With Meta Descriptions.” Enjoy!
Have I missed out on anything? Feel free to tell me about your metadata writing process in the comments below!
Updated: 22 January 2018