Keeping up with the latest best practices in search engine optimization is a constant challenge for content marketers. However, one crucial element of search engine results is likely to remain relevant for years to come: the meta description.
Here, we’ll look at what meta descriptions are, why they’re important, and how to optimize them to drive click-throughs and strengthen your long-term rankings.
What Are Meta Descriptions?
The meta description is the short paragraph of text that appears below a page’s URL in search engine results pages. Its purpose is to summarize the content of a web page for the benefit of users and search engines, and it should persuade searchers to click through to your website. Words that match the search query are also bolded in the description.
Why Are Meta Descriptions Important?
While they don’t directly impact search engine rankings, meta descriptions are still an important part of the search experience. They can persuade more users to click through to your content and remain on your website for longer, which will ultimately improve your website rankings.
The more attractive and relevant the description is to searchers, the more likely they will click through to your site, which is why it’s important to make them as engaging as possible.
Tips for Writing Meta Descriptions That Get More Clicks
Don’t Worry Too Much About Character Length
In May 2018, Google went back to displaying shorter meta descriptions. According to Moz, most descriptions are now cut off in the range of about 155 to 160 characters. Does that mean your descriptions should be no longer than 160 characters? Not necessarily.
An SEMrush study found that some descriptions over 320 characters performed better and ranked higher, even though they were cut off mid-sentence in search results. The incomplete sentences could add some intrigue. So as long as you’re accurately describing your page’s content, you’re on the right track.
Answer User Questions
People use search engines to find answers. If you can answer specific questions in your meta description, more people are likely to click through to find out more.
Understand User Intent
What are your potential customers trying to do? If they’re looking for information, they want to see words like “learn” and “discover.” If they want to buy something, they expect to see sales-related words that convey value.
Use a CTA
A call-to-action or CTA can encourage people to click on your link because it asks readers to consider taking a direct action. For example, “buy now,” “download our report,” or “read our review.”
Highlight the Benefits
The description is your chance to tell users how they’ll benefit from reading your content. Tell readers what they can expect to learn, gain, or feel after clicking through.
Be Interesting and Specific
If your copy is too generic or simply boring, you won’t engage as many people. Try to stand out with exciting language, avoid keyword stuffing, and get to the point. To inspire confidence, give a compelling excerpt from the content, or include interesting stats.
Use Your Keywords
Because keywords that match a searcher’s query are bolded in the description, try to match your descriptions to the search terms you want to rank for. Use important keywords at the beginning of your description, but don’t use too many; it sounds unnatural and makes you look desperate for clicks.
Optimize for Rich Snippets
Most search engines now use rich snippets markup to enhance search results. These added elements add credibility to your listings and can increase click-throughs. Learn more about how to optimize for rich snippets and schema markup.
Deliver on Your Promise
If your landing page content doesn’t match up with the meta description, you’re going to disappoint a lot of people and damage your credibility. Never deceive users just to encourage clicks; this will only harm your search rankings, as your bounce rates will go through the roof.
A well-written meta description can mean the difference between getting your link clicked or not. The sooner you learn to craft a good meta description, the sooner you can start achieving higher search engine rankings.
So, to sum up:
- Accurately describe your landing page’s content.
- Highlight the benefits of reading your content.
- Answer questions from your target audience.
- Use exciting, interesting language.
- Create intrigue with statistics.
- Use keyword phrases that match searcher intent.
Many content marketers still neglect the meta description, but it’s one of the simplest and most effective ways to drive organic traffic to your site and boost your search engine rankings.
Use these suggestions to create more engaging meta descriptions for your website. You might be surprised how many more people you can persuade to choose you over your search competitors.