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How to Write Better Meta Descriptions: The Actionable Guide

  • Erik Emanuelli
  • 5 min read
How to Write Better Meta Descriptions: The Actionable Guide

Intro

Meta descriptions are one of your website's most important pieces of SEO copy.

They are the little snippets of text that appear under your link in search engine results pages, and they play a big role in determining whether or not people will click through to your site.

This guide will teach you how to write meta descriptions that get attention and encourage people to click through to your website.

What Is A Meta Description?

A meta description is an HTML element that describes the contents of a web page.

Search engines use meta descriptions to help users find relevant websites when they perform a search.

They are also used by social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to generate preview text for links shared on their sites.

While they are not a ranking factor for SEO, you should look into them because they can influence the click-through rate of your content (which is an important metric in online marketing since a higher CTR means more visitors to your website over time).

Meta Description Examples

The meta description, according to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), a worldwide non-profit organization responsible for defining HTML standards, has three characteristics:

  • There are no restrictions on what users can type into the text field, as long as it is relevant to the page's content.
  • The description must be suitable for use by a search engine.
  • A webpage can only have one meta description.

Here is an example of a good meta description:

example of a good meta description

As you can see, this description is relevant to the content of the page, and it would be appropriate for use by a search engine.

Why Are Meta Descriptions Important for SEO?

Meta descriptions are not a ranking factor.

OK, I know what you’re thinking: "Why should I bother writing them?"

Well, while they don’t directly influence your SEO rankings, they are still important because they can affect your click-through rate (CTR).

And by convincing visitors that the webpage has what they are searching for, they may help boost clicks, organic traffic, leads, and income.

However, Google states that they will use meta descriptions only if they think that the description is relevant to the user's query.

In other words, if they think it is "appropriate":

Best practices for creating quality meta descriptions

According to a study, Google only shows them about 37% of the time.

While this number may change over time, it’s still important to write effective meta descriptions for your pages because they may be used more often than you think.

Google rewrites meta description 63% of the time

And, if your meta descriptions are relevant and compelling, you may see an increase in your website's CTR, which could lead to improved SEO rankings over time.

Meta Descriptions vs. SERP Snippets

It’s important to note that meta descriptions are not the same thing as SERP snippets.

SERP snippets are the little pieces of text that appear under your link in search engine results pages, and they are generated by Google based on the content of your webpage.

Meta descriptions, on the other hand, are the descriptions that you write yourself.

You can think of meta descriptions as your SEO-optimized sales pitch, while SERP snippets are Google's way of giving users a little more information about your website before they click through to it.

Both are important, but they serve different purposes.

In a few words, you can control meta descriptions of your site, but you can't control what appears on SERP snippets.

Meta Descriptions Best Practices

Here are some best practices to keep in mind when writing meta descriptions:

  • Be Concise
  • Make It Unique
  • Use Bucket Brigade Copywriting Technique
  • Match Search Intent
  • Include Relevant Keywords
  • Add a Call to Action
  • Use Active Voice
  • Sparkle Emotion
  • Write Quality Descriptions

Be Concise

The recommended length is between 150-160 characters.

This may seem like a very small amount of space, but it’s important to be concise because people have short attention spans and you want your descriptions to be readable.

If you can say what you need to in fewer than 160 characters, even better.

Make It Unique

Each page on your website should have its unique meta description.

Don’t try to stuff too many keywords or write the same thing for every page, because this will not only hurt your SEO rankings but will also turn people away from your website.

Search engines will see right through your keyword stuffing, and users will be turned off by your lack of originality.

Meta description example - Make it unique

Use Bucket Brigade Copywriting Technique

The bucket brigade copywriting technique is a great way to keep your content readable and interesting.

It involves using short, punchy sentences to keep people engaged and wanting more.

Here’s an example of how you could use this technique in a meta description:

"Are you looking for a quality SEO company?

You’ve come to the right place.

We are a leading SEO company that offers quality services at an affordable price.

Contact us today to learn more."

This meta description is short, to the point, and uses active voice to tell the reader what they will get if they click through to the website.

Match Search Intent

When people search for something online, they have a specific intent.

People may be looking to buy something, learn something, or find entertainment.

It’s important to write meta descriptions that match the search intent of the user, or else they will be less likely to click through to your website.

For example, if someone searches for "buy shoes online," they are probably looking to make a purchase.

If your meta description says "learn about the history of shoes," it’s not going to match the user’s intent, and you’re not going to get many clicks.

On the other hand, if your meta description says "free shipping on all orders over $50," you’re more likely to get a click because you’re matching the user’s intent of wanting to buy shoes.

Keyword Intent Mapping

Include Relevant Keywords

When writing meta descriptions, it’s important to include relevant keywords.

However, don’t stuff your keywords in there just for the sake of SEO.

The text should be readable and make sense.

If you can organically work your keywords into your description, that’s great. But don’t force it if it doesn’t sound natural.

Add a Call to Action

Your meta description should also include a call to action, whenever it’s possible and relevant.

A call to action is a phrase that encourages the user to take a specific action, such as "buy now," "sign up for our newsletter," or "learn more."

By including a call to action in your meta description, you’re increasing the chances that people will click through to your website.

Use Active Voice

When writing meta descriptions, it’s important to use an active voice.

Active voice is when the subject of the sentence is doing the verb, such as "I am writing a blog post."

In contrast, the passive voice would be "A blog post is being written by me."

The active voice is more powerful and will encourage people to take action.

It’s also shorter and easier to read than the passive voice.

Sparkle Emotion

When writing meta descriptions, it’s important to try and evoke some emotion in the reader.

If you can make people feel something, they’re more likely to click through to your website.

For example, if you’re selling a product that can help people lose weight, you could write a meta description that says "Lose weight and feel great about yourself!"

This is more likely to get a click than a meta description that simply says "Buy our weight loss product."

Write Quality Descriptions

Finally, it’s important to write quality descriptions.

They should be well-written and free of grammar and spelling errors.

They should also be interesting and engaging so that people will want to click through to your website.

If your meta descriptions are boring or full of errors, people will be less likely to click through, no matter how well you optimize them for SEO.

Here are some examples of good and bad meta descriptions, as reported in the Google Search Central documentation:

Write Quality Descriptions

Final Words

Together with title tags, meta descriptions are your weapon to attract people to click on your content in search results.

So, don’t underestimate them, and make sure to write SEO-friendly and user-centric meta descriptions following the tips we mentioned in this post.

So, what are your thoughts?

Let me know in the comments below!

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