How To Write Meta Descriptions that Will Get More Click-Throughs
Search Engine Marketing: Meta Descriptions that Sell
When you go to the movies and aren’t familiar with any of the titles playing, do you base your choice of what you choose to see simply based on the movie titles?
Even if you know you are in the mood for a certain genre, how do you choose between two different titles? Wouldn’t you look up a brief synopsis for each film, and base your choice then?
When you are choosing between movies at a theater, you are usually just choosing between a small selection. But when it comes to finding a website with a search engine, the results could number in the thousands. Those brief synopses need to make the searcher feel like they found the article or page they are looking for or peak their interest.
That is the basis of what a meta description is supposed to do for your website on a search engine page. Google gets over 100 billion searches on a monthly basis worldwide. Investing in search engine marketing is what gives you the edge to get more people to your site.
Let’s take a closer look at meta descriptions and how to make yours superior. You’ll improve your number of clickthroughs.
Search Engine Marketing and Meta Descriptions
There are lots of factors to a successful website. Good design, good content, advertising, SEO services, and keywords, and search engine marketing, which includes meta descriptions.
A meta description is a tag in the HTML that provides a brief synopsis of a webpage’s contents. When you use a search engine, the brief paragraph that shows up under the link for the website is the actual meta description.
Most of us use search engines to find new websites, and for websites we are unfamiliar with (93% of online sessions begin by using a search engine). We aren’t paying attention to the name of the webpage. We base our choice on the meta descriptions and which one most reflects what product or service we are on a quest to find.
Let’s say someone is searching for a local bakery to order a wedding cake. They get on Google and search for “wedding cake bakery.” The first result meta description mentions a bakery with generic goods: cookies, cupcakes, and donuts. Perhaps the second result is similar but mentions cakes as well. The third result just mentions the address and hours of operation.
But the fourth result not only specifically mentions wedding cakes, it mentions their wedding cakes are one-of-a-kind. Which website are you going to click on? Perhaps the first result is famous for their wedding cakes, and it is mentioned on their homepage. But if the potential customer doesn’t get to that homepage, and is lured away by competition instead, how will they know?
Which website are you going to click on? Perhaps the first result is famous for their wedding cakes, and it is mentioned on their homepage. But if the potential customer doesn’t get to that homepage, and is lured away by competition instead, how will they know?
Short, Sweet, and to the Point
There are different opinions on the perfect length for a meta description, but most would agree the right amount falls between 135 to 160 characters (with 160 being the absolute maximum). Any description longer than that and the search engine will chop the extra characters off.
Also consider that sometimes search engines will add characters of their own (for example, the date the article was posted) in front of your description. This will count towards your total number of characters. It may be better to plan for that possibility and avoid going to the maximum.
The Key to Keywords
Put many of your keywords into your meta description. Most search engines will bold or highlight those keywords if they match any of the words typed in by the searcher. Bolded and highlighted words will catch the person’s eye even more.
Just make sure you don’t overdo it, and your description flows naturally. This is a brief synopsis after all, not simply a keyword list.
A user may suspect the page is nothing but spam, or that the website isn’t what they are looking for if they just see a bunch of random words (even if they are keywords they are searching for).
Give the Call
With search engine marketing, your meta description needs to stand out. Don’t just write a passive, dull description, but add an active voice and use some action-oriented words.
Verbs will create a connection to the searcher, as you are speaking to them and calling them to action. Use verbs like “Find,” “Get,” “Discover,” “Expect,” and “Seize.”
Using the earlier example with bakeries, which peaks your interest more? A meta description that says “We have an assortment of cookies” or a bakery that says “Find the perfect cookie for you?” A bakery that says “We have several new flavored cupcakes” or “Discover your new favorite flavor and try one of our new cupcakes?”
Be Descriptive and Creative
Search engines will usually bring thousands of results. That is a lot of competition. So generic descriptions just won’t cut it when it comes to making your webpage stand out.
Be descriptive about your product or service, or whatever the contents of the webpage may be. You want your description to be unique so your page stands out and searchers are drawn to your page over others.
Remember that a meta description isn’t just a description of a webpage. It’s an advertisement for that page.
Don’t Copy and Paste
Each page on your website is different and unique, with each page focusing on something different. Your meta descriptions for each page should be the same. Don’t copy and paste the same description to every one of your pages.
If your website has several pages, and you don’t have time to write that many descriptions, at least prioritize and create unique descriptions for your most popular (or desired most popular) pages.
Think of the description as 135 to 160 characters that act as a sales pitch. A search engine is a market where you are posting an ad with your meta description. Until a searcher clicks on your link the in the search engine, they only have the meta description to judge if your website is exactly what they are looking for.
Utilize these tips, take the time to invest in search engine marketing, improve your meta descriptions, and watch the traffic to your website increase.