Meta descriptions are some of the most valuable — and most underutilized — tools for improving click-through to your website, thereby indirectly helping with search engine optimization. Visible only in search engine results pages, these HTML tags should provide brief and insightful descriptions to help searchers determine if your site is worth visiting.
Useful meta descriptions hold a lot of power because these words convince search engine users to click through to your site. If they aren’t playing a key role in your SEO efforts, a change is needed.
Why Are Meta Descriptions Important?
Meta descriptions or snippets, generally get ignored because search engine algorithms don’t exclusively use them. Quality snippets can help your listing stand out from the crowd, especially important within high-placement results. With the right description, a second or third-place result could secure even more traffic than the top spot, simply because it does a better job of convincing internet users the corresponding page is worth checking out.
While Google states meta descriptions don’t impact search engine rankings, they ultimately do play a role. If numerous users click a link to a page due to a great snippet, the page is deemed a better search result — and it gets pushed higher in the rankings for that or similar searches.
The long-term goal of meta descriptions is to deliver greater traffic to your website. Whether traffic comes in the form of better SERP placement or a higher click-through rate, your site benefits.
How to Create Effective Meta Descriptions
The greatest issues with these snippets typically arise when they are treated as an afterthought. Putting effort and thought into meta descriptions should improve quality. A variety of tactics can be employed for transforming descriptions and driving more traffic to web pages. The following strategies will help you make the most of what meta descriptions provide:
Keep Snippets Short and Sweet
Technically, meta descriptions can be entered at any length. Concise descriptions are always preferable as Google tends to cut snippets off at just 160 characters. The ideal meta descriptions are long enough to grant search engine users an accurate impression of the page, yet short enough to fall within Google’s character limit. Ideal meta descriptions fall somewhere between 75 and 160 characters.
Struggling to keep meta descriptions under 160 characters? If so, resist the urge to water down the message for the sake of fitting inside the limit. Instead, aim to load the first half of the snippet with the most important information. Google occasionally alters the length of descriptions, so it’s possible the full snippet will be included even if it exceeds the typical 160-character limit. If, however, the first half is packed with vital information, you need not risk search engine users missing out on the best elements of the description.
No one meta description length is preferable. It’s possible to get the point across in just a few words. Other situations, however, may call for thorough descriptions. The main goal of meta descriptions offering value to readers, and drive clicks to your website, not to hit a certain word count.
Integrate Targeted Keywords Naturally
Meta descriptions provide the perfect opportunity for implementing your website’s keyword strategy. Like the descriptions themselves, keywords hold potential for improving search engine placement, and also make your snippet stand out on a crowded search page. Keywords appear bold in page snippets so readers can spot them and quickly get a sense of page content.
Researched, highly-targeted keywords appeal more to visitors on a specific search mission and help distinguish the listing from others included on a results page. Snippets lacking bold keywords are generally missed by internet users skimming pages for relevant words or phrases.
Use an Active Voice — And a Call For Action
Active and engaging meta descriptions drive traffic. Each sentence should deliver clear value. Passive run-on sentences damage the perceived urgency of visiting your website convincing users your site and its information can wait for later. Unfortunately, ‘later’ usually means ‘never’.
The ideal meta descriptions end with calls to action. A simple phrase convinces readers to act. Calls to action are commonly seen in sales or content marketing and are equally important for snippets. Examples of effective meta description CTAs include “learn more,” or “find out here.”
Keep Meta Descriptions Consistent
Meta descriptions should entice search engine users to your site — without tricking them into visiting. The landing page should deliver on any promises highlighted in the snippet. Clickbait strategies can quickly backfire, driving the website’s placement far lower in future search engine results.
Accuracy is essential and quality must also be unique because snippets appear on a page of similar search results. High-impact language attracts users to pay attention, driving more traffic to web pages.
Use Different Snippets For Different Pages
Many websites use virtually identical meta descriptions for almost every page. Snippet duplication wastes huge opportunities to attract users looking for useful information. The best snippets are hyper-relevant to website pages and to specific content included on each page. Duplication also negatively influences Google’s ‘opinion’ of your site.
Test Different Strategies
No one specific approach will produce effective meta descriptions in every situation. Ultimately, snippets need to be carefully crafted to meet the unique needs of your website and marketing strategy. Elements of trial and error are required to determine what delivers the best results.
Consider testing different formats on pages already receiving plenty of organic traffic. Ensuing fluctuations may reveal which approach appeals most to users. If a specific meta description is not delivering the results desired, don’t be afraid to switch tactics.
Our agency believes meta descriptions have great value in every company’s marketing strategy. Snippets can make a huge difference in website click-through rates. They are the best opportunity to intrigue and excite users and to convince them your website is worth visiting. A little extra effort usually leads to marked improvements in traffic.
As you aim for a comprehensive approach for driving website traffic and web conversions, seeking guidance from experts at Colling Media can help improve results faster. Our assistance could make all the difference in SEO, PPC, and content marketing efforts.