A superb meta description for your website can drive up traffic significantly. But, how do you go about drafting one?
A meta description is a snippet of information that shows up below a website’s title when searched on Google. Essentially, it is an HTML attribute that outlines the overview of the contents of a webpage.
Internet users usually read the meta description to get a glimpse of what content a website has to offer. Therefore, an aptly-written description could do wonders and improve your site’s click-through-rate, one of the parameters used by Google in page ranking. Simply put, a great meta description generates more traffic and improves the ranking of your site.
The challenge, however, is how to write the right description. The following 15 tips will help you in creating effective meta descriptions for your websites.
1. Be Concise
This is perhaps the most important consideration factor when writing a meta description. Google only displays the first 160 characters of a webpage description, beyond which extra words are truncated. This means that the description should have utmost precision.
There are several tools online that can assist in making sure that Google doesn’t truncate your description. It is also worth noting that the maximum length varies with the user’s device, meaning that the description should ideally fit on a mobile screen.
2. Incorporate Keywords
Using keywords within your meta description can improve click-through-rates for your website. This is because Google automatically bolds keywords in the results of an internet user’s organic search. When consumers spot the bolded words, they are likelier to proceed to your site.
Where keywords are lacking in the description, Google normally scours the entire webpage for the keyword. This is why integrating keywords on your meta description gives the upper hand over sites who don’t.
3. Use Power Words
You can greatly improve the appeal of your meta description by using power words. Such words are known to be convincing and thereby effective in the promotion of goods and services. They include amazing, outstanding, guaranteed, and so forth.
The use of power words grabs the reader’s attention and encourages them to read on. For this reason, they should feature in your meta description.
Dishonesty in your meta description can have detrimental effects on your website. For instance, visitors are likely to feel disappointed if they find that the webpage content doesn’t match the details outlined in the meta description. In the long run, a higher web page bounce rate will lead to a lower ranking on Google. On the contrary, an accurate meta description increases the popularity of your website, as well as its search engine ranking.
It is advisable to conduct thorough research before creating a meta description. Specifically, you should search the targeted keyword and how it has been used in related AdWords advertisements. This is because such ads are usually tested severally to ensure that they are effective in improving click-through-rates.
Indeed, you should assess how competitors are using their keywords in their descriptions and look to improve on it. This can be done by either using better language if the competitors are poor or being unique if the competitors have great meta descriptions.
Before settling on a final option, it is recommended to create and test the effectiveness of several descriptions. You can test the efficacy of your description for free using the Google AdWords A/B testing feature.
The A/B test evaluates many variations of a site’s meta descriptions to determine which version has the potential to attract the highest click-through-rates. Initially, you should write descriptions that are relevant to large groups of people. Then, as time goes on, you should draft descriptions that are intended for specific groups. The tone and wording determine the audience for which the description is intended.
Similar to webpage content, the meta description should vary with each webpage. Using the same description throughout your website isn’t a punishable offense, but it could have a negative impact on their effectiveness.
For instance, visitors are likely to get bored if they notice that the description is unchanged for different web pages. Also, they could avoid opening the page because of the assumption that its content is already familiar to them.
If writing different descriptions for each page on your site is a challenge, you should leave it blank instead of copy pasting.
Rich snippets are structured data markups that embedded within a web page’s HTML to assist search engines in understanding the content of your website. Therefore, optimizing your meta description for rich snippets can improve the likelihood of web traffic visiting your site.
Typically, rich snippets display extra information about a webpage. For example, it may show the operation hours, the address, price, ratings, and anything else depending on the nature of your website. The rich snippets are placed below the URL in search results.
Turning rich snippets on requires a considerable amount of effort. Still, you are not assured that Google will show them for your website in search results. To learn more about rich snippets and how you can optimize your description for them, take a look at this guideline from Google.
Although keywords are great when used in a meta description, you should avoid going overboard in this regard. Descriptions that are stuffed with keywords are likely to be ranked by search engines – however, they may not be as appealing to human beings, the primary target of a website’s content. This means that Google will rank your website highly, and the click-through-rates will still be low. After some time, Google will eventually replace your page with another that attracts more traffic.
A description with numbers is more intriguing to visitors than those without figures. Naturally, human beings are enticed by statistics, prices, and promotions. This implies that using numbers alongside rich language can go a great way in improving the inflow of visitors to your website. Furthermore, using figures in your descriptions increases the probability of the content being shared on social media platforms.
Call-to-action statements, as their name suggests, are used to persuade the visitor into doing something. Since the purpose of searching keywords on Google is to obtain more information, telling potential visitors what to do actually persuades them to read your content. This underpins the necessity of including call-to-action statements such as ‘discover more about,’ ‘read on,’ ‘click here,’ and so on. Also, a call-to-action statement makes your content befitting to human readers, rather than search engine robots.
While your websites might be offering products, services or information that is not entirely unique, you can still make your description outstanding by highlighting your special offers.
It is highly likely that sites whose content target a specific keyword have descriptions that are closely related. To improve the chances of getting more traffic than your competitors, include the differentiating factors on your description. For instance, if you have a business, you can include discount offers, fast delivery times, free shipping offers and such.
Nowadays, content management systems such as WordPress have a huge variety of top-notch SEO plugins. These plugins can assist you to customize how page titles and meta descriptions appear on Google search result. In fact, some options such as the All in One SEO plugin have the meta description filed with an inbuilt character counter to ensure that you don’t exceed the permissible maximum.
Additionally, there are plugins dedicated to optimizing your descriptions for sharing on social media. An ideal example is the WPPSO plugin that enables you to make descriptions suited for sharing on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other leading networking sites.
The needs of internet users change gradually over time. This means that a meta description that was great three months ago might not be as effective currently.
You should make it easy to update your meta descriptions to conform to the prevailing needs of potential visitors. This can be aided by the use of plugins such as Yoast which allow for bulk editing of webpage content. These changes should be made at least three times every year. Leaving your meta description unchanged for extended periods places you at the risk of being irrelevant.
Another method of leveraging meta description to improve the performance of your websites is through the use of location authority. If you intend to influence people living in a specific location, you can create descriptions that include the name of the targeted region. Adding such information correlates to the presence your business realizes when an internet user searches for services available in their locale.
As seen above, an intriguing meta description is the first step to optimizing your webpage content for SEO. Besides higher ranking on search engine results, it can significantly improve the number of visitors to your website.
In simple terms, you should not overlook a meta description because it has a huge impact on the reputation of your site.