You've probably heard it a hundred times: When it comes to creating content for search engine optimization (SEO), it's crucial that you always write for the user FIRST and the search engines second. This couldn't be more true than when it comes to writing compelling and action-oriented meta descriptions for your individual web pages.
A well-written meta description can give your site an advantage in search engine results pages (SERPs), resulting in more click-throughs to your site where you have more chances to convert that visitor into a lead or new customer. Search engines do not use meta descriptions in the way they rank pages, but they use click-through-rate (CTR). And do you know what improves your pages click-through-rate? Visitors finding value in your meta descriptions and clicking your links!
Here's a look at 7 ways you can begin to construct better meta descriptions for your website that will make your visitors want to click and access your pages - thus, improve your SERP rank.
1. Keep It To 155 Characters or Less
According to the expert team at Moz, the guideline for meta description character length is 150-160 characters. I personally aim for 155 characters or less. This can prove to be a real challenge when trying to write the perfect description for certain web pages but going over this character limit results in having your description cut off in the SERP. Avoid these awkward mid-sentence breaks (as shown here) in your description by forcing yourself to stay within this character limit. That way you can present a complete statement that inspires the user to click.
2. Provide Your Value Proposition to the Customer
For every meta description you write you need to be mindful of what the user will be thinking: "Yeah, but, what's in it for me?" This is where your specific value proposition comes into play and should be utilized to clearly articulate what specifically you have to offer in relation to the particular service or product you're writing a page description for. For every meta description you write, try to answer those two questions: “What is this page offering?” and “Why should I visit this page?” If you can’t, rework the descriptions until you can.
To ensure your value proposition is unique and stands out from your competition, take the time to do some side-by-side comparisons to evaluate what they're saying in their page descriptions. And then, write a better one! Moz is getting a lot of love from me in this post, but I have to highlight their home page meta description since it encapsulates perfectly what I've outlined here.
3. Make It Welcoming and Flawless
Per my point to always write for the user first and not the search engines, the reason is to make your web copy and meta descriptions inviting rather than awkward. Stringing together numerous keyword phrases with little or no personality won't get you very far in the SERPs, even if you do rank in the top 3 results for the phrase(s) you're targeting.
As John Clark from Rival IQ put it in his article, (Is Your Meta Description Working As Hard As Your Tagline?), evaluate whether your meta description is a friendly doorman or an angry bouncer. Your goal should be to write with a warm tone that welcomes the user to enter your virtual front door.
Needless to say, read it and read it again to make sure there’s no typo: it looks pretty bad in such a short amount of text!
4. Incorporate a Call-to-Action or Offer
Your website's meta description is essentially an ad in the SERPs, it is your sales text, especially if you're ranking in the top positions just below the paid ads. So, make it work for you! Incorporating a short call-to-action (CTA) or offer somewhere in your meta description is a great way to boost your click-through rate and be your answer to standing out from your competition. Here's a look at what Salesforce uses in their description. See how they introduce one of their offers?
5. Bust Out Some Name Dropping
For certain industries, incorporating some names of clients, vendors, brands or certifications that your company is associated with can make a compelling case for your qualifications and credibility and encourage more click-throughs. Don't go crazy and be mindful of the other tips outlined in this post, but if you're crafty enough to make it work within your allotted character limit go for it! But always remember, Google will cut off any description with double quotation marks. So make sure to not include any non-alphanumeric characters when you mention a certification or brand.
6. Be Mindful of Competition from Google AdWords
With Google AdWords now getting more prime SERP real estate, with a total of 4 ad listings for some search queries, your organic search listings need to perform at an even higher level. As you secure a top position in the organic SERP listings for your key website pages, and look to capture the most click-throughs, you should consider monitoring what you're up against as far as Google AdWords listings and make adjustments as needed.
If you're able to write a more inviting and helpful meta description that appears less "sales-y" than the paid ads you can help ensure you're standing out in order to capture click-throughs. See this perfect example here from our friends at Wistia. Their description is much cleaner and more inviting.
7. Test, Monitor & Adapt
With anything that you do online associated with your website and marketing efforts, it's key that you test, monitor and adapt your activities based on our ability as marketers to track what's working and what's not. This goes for your SEO activities and your meta descriptions too. Don't be afraid to experiment a little to see what works best for your website and industry. If one of the aforementioned tips does wonders for you, try doing more of it for other pages on your site. But please, stay away from duplicates! If several pages have the same meta description, your SERP results will show a bunc of your website’s pages for the same search and the visitor is likely to think they’re not relevant.
The Best Meta Descriptions Are Backed by High Quality Content
The search world is constantly changing but one thing is constant: Websites with quality content that meet the needs of those searching for that content, and that provide a user-friendly experience, will win in the SERPs. This all starts with your meta descriptions which is essentially the welcome mat to your site's virtual doorway. Be sure to incorporate these tips to ensure you're presenting the best first impression you can.
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Frank has been key to establishing Weidert Group as an inbound marketing leader over his 10+ years with the agency. He has a knack for using technology to amplify smart marketing strategies, and a deep knowledge of SEO and content promotion, exceptional project management skills, and a thorough understanding of HubSpot's marketing and sales products.