Have you ever wondered what that little blurb of text that followed the title when you searched for something on Google? That is called a Meta description. For those who aren’t familiar with meta descriptions, here’s a quick summary.
When you type a search query into Google, let’s use “white towels” as an example, you’re led to a SERP (search engine results page). This page can be a bit cluttered and somewhat complicated depending on the search so we’ll ignore all the ads, images, and videos.
The blue words at the top are the “Title Tag.” They’re the title of the web page that the keyword or keyphrase is being searched on. Below them, you’ll see a description of no more than 155 characters (this used to be 300 characters now we are seeing up to 155 characters being used again). This is called the meta description. Here's one below:
Dissecting a Meta Description
The meta descriptions give you a brief overview of what the site or page is about, as well as a compelling reason to click the title tag. You can enter this information in yourself or depending on a user's query, Google might pull meta description text from other areas on your page (in an attempt to better answer the searcher's query.
Product or Service Page Meta Description
Writing meta descriptions for your product pages is a little easier than writing them for your home page because your product pages aren’t supposed to speak for your business as a whole.
Instead, they’re speaking for something that offers a tangible benefit to future visitors, shoppers and clients.
Selling hats? Let the reader know that this hat will keep them warm on those chilly fall mornings.
Selling towels? Have the reader imagine a spa-like experience when using your towels.
Selling your coaching services? Make the visitor imagine how you are going to solve their problems they are experiencing in life or business.
How to Write a Meta Description
Now that we have an understanding of meta descriptions, you’re probably wondering: what are the best ways to apply this to your own business?
First, focus on what would compel a searcher to click on your title tag.
That requires answering two questions:
What are you offering?
Why should I buy from you? What is it that you provide (whether services or products) that someone needs to have? Think of the benefits or solutions you provide.
Meta descriptions for your homepage as mentioned above are a bit trickier to write.
Let readers know what you do, tell them about your unique selling proposition, and convey this information multiple times, because the meta description isn’t a place for being humble or subtlety.
Still struggling to come up with an effective meta description for your home page? Don't worry it is common, so it’s best to be patient and think hard about your brand.
If you've been around for a while, what do loyal and returning customers say about your business? And if you’re new to the online game, what made you think this business would get customers?
Talk to people about your business, formulate the description like you would an elevator pitch. You’ll probably want to go through a couple drafts. It’s important to get things right because this will be the first exposure many customers have to you and your brand.
When to Write a Meta Description
Believe it or not, this blog post isn’t about making you feel panicked or guilty that you haven’t filled out all of your meta descriptions.
For one thing, Google automatically creates these descriptions by pulling from the content of your page, but if you have the chance to write these on your own it will be in your own words and keywords that you want to be ranked for in search.
Wait what if you have hundreds of pages or posts you ask? Should you go back to each one and write a meta description for each?
Instead, it’s best to focus on the pages that get the most traffic from search engines. Take your top ten or twenty pages and think, “Are we really selling the product or service here, or is there a way we can improve the click-through rate?”
Moving forward, whenever you or a copywriter you’ve hired puts together a new page of content, it’s a good idea to have them write a meta description in the resource’s details page in your dashboard. This can be in the Yoast SEO plugin for Wordpress or the dashboard section of your site no matter if you are using Wordpress, Squarespace, Shopify or another platform.
Not only will this improve your SEO, it will also force you to condense the idea of the page into just a few words.
This becomes the “topic sentence” for the page, essentially, and it helps you determine whether the page’s copy continually fulfills the promise of the meta description. See where I am going with this?
Meta Descriptions Help You Sell
Ultimately, the meta description is a promise you make to searchers that they will find what they are looking for on your page.
When writing your meta descriptions, make sure to remember the following:
1. Your Description Can’t Be More Than 155 Characters
It’s okay to write a meta description that cuts off halfway through the sentence. Just make sure you know you’re doing it. It is better to be clear and concise.
2. Focus on the Customer
The descriptions for your product or service pages should focus on how your product or service will change their life once they buy it. It’s not all about the fancy stats of figures you can tell them. The home page description should sell the way your brand matches the customer’s wants/needs.
3. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat again
You don’t have much time to make an impression. Once you’ve found the message you’d like to convey, make sure every phrase and word choice conveys the message.
4. Use Your Focus Keyword
Try to use your focus keyword at the beginning of your meta description
5. Use a Call to Action
What is the purpose of them clicking on that search result? Learn More? Sign up Now?
Hopefully, this post has helped you master the art of writing meta descriptions. Once you’ve applied these tips you can watch the traffic come right over to your own website instead of your competition!