There is no excuse for having a lame meta description.
Ever since meta descriptions, or metas, started carrying less and less weight in search engine rankings, marketers have paid less and less attention to them. But on the other side of the screen, metas are just as important as ever to the searcher. Metas are still the first glimpse of the content on page to the searcher, and are still one of the biggest factors (besides the page title, of course) in determining whether or not the searcher will click on your link.
So don’t leave your meta descriptions by the roadside just yet. Show them a little love by following these tips:
1. Everyone knows to include a keyword, but each meta description should be targeted at explicating just one central keyword for the webpage. Not three, or even two. Search engines get confused when you use too many different key phrases on one page, which in turn actually hurts you. One exception to this would be if your keywords are actually grammatical variations on the same keyword, say, pluralizing the word or adding an article. Bonus: remember that keywords show up bolded in search results , making it more likely for your page to get noticed!
2. Along the same lines, keep it to one main call to action. This time the point is not so you won’t confuse the search engine, but so you won’t confuse the reader. Be excruciatingly clear what the user can do on your page: is it that you can download an infographic, or do you present the results of a new study? If the would-be calls to action are too disparate, it’s a big indicator that your content should really be split up into two instead of muddling the meta waters.
3. Think of your meta description like crafting a tweet. You have 140 characters to write a tweet, and SEOmoz recommends 150-160 characters for a meta. One of the main things people aim for when writing a tweet is to answer “what can clicking on this link do for me?” , which is no simple task when your words are so limited. This applies to content marketing, to advertising, and of course, to writing a meta description as well. The successful meta always addresses the user’s needs directly, succinctly, and clearly in order to entice them to click through to the webpage — where hopefully your content will win them over even more.
4. Differentiate yourself. Building on the previous burning question, you also want to answer “why should I click on this link instead of the hundreds of others?” Of course, if you’re number one on the rankings, that might be good enough reason to click on your link. But if you got there in the first place, you’re probably playing the meta description game pretty well already (on another note, which came first, chicken or the egg?). For most people, it’s incredibly crucial to underline the trustworthiness and “informativeness” of the content. Ethos and tricks matter when you have approximately two sentences to draw people in. Do you have BBB accreditation? List it. Do you have an endorsement from a prominent figure in your industry? Take a few words out and list it.
5. Finally, write a default meta description. A default meta description is the first few lines of content on your webpage and is shown when there is no meta available. This underscores the importance of your first few lines of content: not only does it serve to introduce your website, but it also needs to be able to draw people in. If there really isn’t enough time to write a solid meta for a post, this should be used as a backup measure, and proves to be worth its weight in terms of value per time spent on writing it. However, this is a default for a reason, and should never be the most common meta description seen from your site.
Though Google has stopped calculating in the meta description into rankings, don’t let that stop you from writing killer SEO meta descriptions to charm your potential readers!