Ever since 2007, when Google announced that meta descriptions do not impact search rankings, meta descriptions have been constantly overlooked. Just because it doesn’t affect your search engine optimization (SEO) directly, doesn’t mean that it is not a key player when it comes to getting click-throughs on search engines.
As the snippet of information below your link, the meta description is more than likely the last thing a potential visitor will read before clicking on your article or choosing the links above or below you. Its purpose is to describe the contents of the page and more importantly convince the searcher that your website has the answer they are looking for. Here are a few tips to get you on your way to writing killer meta descriptions.
Provide an Answer
Why do we use Google, Bing, and/or Yahoo? Because we need to find an answer. Be it something as simple as the scores to yesterday’s game or how to successfully create a marketing strategy, we turn to Google in our times of need.
If you can provide the answer, or at least a good glimpse into the answer the searcher is looking for, 9 times out of 10 you’ve already won yourself a click.
Use The Correct Length
The standard accepted length for a meta description is 155 characters long. Anything longer than that and Google will cut it off. 155 characters may not seem like much, but a complete meta description is more effective than an incomplete one.
Another tip on the mechanics of meta descriptions: Do not use quotation marks, because Google will cut them off.
Think of a meta description as a call-to-action (CTA) advertising what your website has to offer. Like a good CTA it must be able to pique the reader’s interest and convince them to complete an action, which in this case is a click-through to your website. List the specifics of what a potential reader will receive and use action-oriented language such as, “Learn” or ‘”Discover.”
Keep it Honest
Have you ever read a meta description thinking that the page will have the answer to your question only to be disappointed once you click-through? How fast did you click the “Back” button? Now, how many of you would go back to that website again looking for answers? None? Well, neither would your readers. Keep it honest and you’ll get much more quality and potentially loyal clicks that way.
Curiosity Drives Clicks
An effective meta description should draw out your page’s content. By the time a potential visitor finishes reading your description they should be curious to read what the page will say about the topic. It’s a tricky balance to find, but you have to make sure that you grab their attention by describing exactly what they’ll get by clicking through, but not so much that their curiosity is satisfied.
One of the best blogging practices you can incorporate is writing an effective meta description. It is also worth noting that one of the most important factors search engines take into account in search engine rankings is click-through rates – click through rates that are affected by the last thing a searcher sees before clicking on a link: the meta description. Don’t overlook this critical opportunity, go forth and write engaging meta descriptions.
*Photo Courtesy of Peter O’Connor via Flickr