Meta descriptions are something we see almost every day – whether you realise it or not. Just google anything on the search engine site, and meta descriptions are what appears in the search results, below a page’s title tag and URL.
Meta descriptions can do so much for your site’s SEO, since it is one of the first things people see when they scour the Internet for information. So, knowing how to use it wisely is key!
First, let’s take a closer look at what a meta description is, exactly.
What is a meta description?
Meta description is a meta tag in a site’s HTML that is supposed to indicate what a page is about. Typically, it summarises the content and intent of the page into a short two-liner. In the example below, the meta description appears below the ratings in the search engine results page (SERP).
Other than appearing in SERPs, meta descriptions also serve as the default caption when a page is shared on social media. In some cases, though, you might notice that a page’s meta description doesn’t appear in the SERP. That’s because the search engine may have decided that another part of the content on the page itself is more relevant to the user’s search query – usually by basis of the keywords present.
If you use a content management system like WordPress, adding meta description tags is easy with the help of plugins, such as Yoast SEO or All in One SEO. You can find the relevant field to input your meta description in the general settings of each page or blog post. Otherwise, you can also add a meta description tag to your webpage by inputting a code that looks like this:
How to craft effective SEO meta descriptions
But just knowing how to add a meta description isn’t the end of the story. How you write your meta description for SEO will determine whether you can attract more visitors to your site.
How to enhance the meta descriptions? Here are some of the best practices, gathered from the words of digital marketers:
- Use your character limit wisely
Ever seen those meta descriptions that trailed off with an ellipsis (…) at the end? Google typically restricts the display of meta descriptions to about 160 characters. If your meta description is too long, it will be truncated.
Many SEO writers like to keep to the sweet spot of 150-160 characters, which is a good balance of utilising the space, and avoiding that unsightly cut-off. Technicalities aside, having a limit for your meta description length also forces you to choose your words more carefully, managing a balance of brevity and information!
- Speak to your audience
Your audience wants to feel heard, and they want to know that you have what they’re looking for. Speak to them! This could mean addressing them directly with the 2nd person pronoun, or making a conscious effort to use simple, straightforward language to grab attention.
The art of writing relatable meta descriptions for SEO involves knowing what your audience is looking for. Show awareness of their pain-points, their needs, and offer them your attractive solution.
- Have a call-to-action
A call-to-action (CTA) spurs action! It also tells users what to expect when they click on your site, letting them make a more informed decision. Is it a products page, a blog post, or the homepage? Your call-to-action should reflect that.
For example, for a products page, your CTA could encourage users to buy, explore products or ask for a quote. On a homepage, the CTA could be as simple as ‘Contact us!’
- Don’t forget your keywords
Here’s another place you shouldn’t forget your keywords. Meta descriptions are golden places for keywords, as the user’s search terms will be highlighted in the SERP. So, having relevant keywords in your meta description will make it stand out, appear more relevant, and garner more clicks.
Being relevant and helpful is key! Make sure your targeted keywords are inserted in a way that is likely to answer your audience’s concerns, rather than being spammy or clickbaity.
- Give information
There is no point in writing a highly captivating meta description, but miss out what users are really looking for. If there’s anything that can set your brand, website, or product apart, use it!
For instance, if you have a really good product, don’t be shy to list out some of its key features, to show how it will really benefit users. Or perhaps, if your brand has been endorsed by an expert in the field, that could be something that gives your brand more credibility! Mention a few of these things that will attract users to your site.
- Be relevant!
Ultimately, your meta description has to be an accurate reflection of the webpage. Having an amazing meta description won’t be of use if it is misleading or downright irrelevant, because users won’t be happy with it.
They are likely to leave the site immediately without browsing further, which increases your bounce rate.
Don’t duplicate meta descriptions
If you think you can get away with copying and pasting meta descriptions across your site – don’t. This not only confuses the search engines, but also users who are searching for information.
The best way to ensure all your meta description pages are unique and compelling is to manually write them for each page. You can also make use of an SEO checking software (e.g. Yoast, Screaming Frog, etc.) to help you identify duplicate or missing meta tags.
Writing a brilliant meta description isn’t easy, but having these tips up your sleeves will help you finetune your meta descriptions for better website SEO! For a professional advice on how your site is doing in terms of SEO, you could talk to an SEO consultant.
If you’d rather hand over the reins to an expert, you could also engage a digital marketing agency to help you with it – meta descriptions are not the only thing they are great at, but also the entire optimisation of your website!