I can tell you in my experience many SEO agencies neglect writing meta descriptions for their clients, yet these little 160 character snippets are one of your best chances of attracting more traffic and more organic users on the search engines to click to your site. The bottom line is if you care about your business, you should spend the time to craft each and every word of them, because if you’re not writing great, compelling meta, you’re most like missing out on organic SERP clicks that can deliver quality leads and potential customers.
What Is A Meta Description?
Quite simply, meta descriptions provide a concise explanation of the content on each page of your website and they are what Google and others display on the search engine result pages (SERPs). Like your meta titles, they are not displayed on the actual pages of your site. While descriptions may not seem important, they are, and well-written descriptions can often have a positive effect on your traffic, your click-through rate on the search engines result pages, as well as with Google’s view of your SEO site health.
I like to think of these little descriptions like little advertisements for each page of your site, because, quite literally, that’s what they are. Since most people use Google and other search engines to find products, services, brands and information, it’s important that the text that shows up on the SERPs be written in a way to get readers to click on your links over other competitors links — your number one goal when writing meta descriptions should be to write them to encourage readers to click!
SEO Best Practices for writing Descriptions.
The following are some guidelines for writing descriptions. While there are certain important rules to following to serve Google, you should never forget that you’re writing for the user, a human! You want your descriptions to include important keywords, but you also want them written in a way that excites the reader to take that step to click and read more. When I write descriptions, I put myself in the mindset of someone searching for the business or company that I’m writing for, and then I write for that user. A well-written description with the right strategically placed keywords can be the difference between one that gets overlooked and one that gets a click.
Recommended Length: Google allows up to 160 characters for a meta description before it truncates it with an ellipses, and it’s advised to write your descriptions between 150 and 160 characters. I’ve always found it helpful to use a SERP simulation tool as you write your descriptions, as it will present you with exactly how your text will look on the SERPs and you can edit and adjust accordingly until you land the right length and perfect description. If you’re using WordPress, you can use the All In One SEO Pack, a stellar SEO Word Press Plug-In I highly recommend.
Don’t Write Too Short: Google is not fond of meta descriptions that are very short. In fact, if a description is too short, Google will report this as an error in the HTML improvements section of your Web Master tools. This can negatively affect your rank and traffic. So it’s advised to write long enough to make your point, as close to the 156 character count as possible and include enough relevant keywords to your page.
Do Not Write Duplicate Descriptions: This is a huge mistake many make, but one Google will penalize you for. It’s better to have no description than to duplicate the same meta description across numerous pages of your site. Each description should be unique to the page it’s written for. You can use Google Webmaster Tools HTML Improvements or use Screaming Frog SEO Spider to check for duplicate meta descriptions.
Write In An Active Voice & Include A Call To Action: While every title doesn’t need to be written with a call to action, it is helpful to include actionable phrases that better invoke a click through, like “Buy now!” or “Browse our products!” Here’s an example of a title for an ambient scent branding company – “Do you want to use scent to brand your customer experience? Explore our aroma branding expertise and air freshening products. Get in touch with today!”
Your Description Should Match The Content On Your Page: This is critical, as Google will discover if you’re trying to trick readers to click to your site, and that could lead to penalization of your traffic and site. This also results in increased bounce rates, which isn’t good, so be sure your descriptions genuinely reflect the content of the page you’re writing for.
Write Them Like An Advertisement: Your meta descriptions are like advertising copy for each page of your site. This text is what readers use when searching the SERPs, so it should be an important part of your SEO marketing strategy. The more clickable, descriptive and relevant the description, the more likely someone will click to discover more about your brand, company, products or services. Also, as you may have noticed, Google will bold keywords in your descriptions, so your descriptions are also a chance to insert certain important keywords you want to rank for that you may not have been able to fit into your meta title.