First, let’s get some basic stuff out of the way about meta descriptions. A meta description is the snippets that are written below the link when you enter a search. Although meta descriptions are not significant to search engine rankings, they should be strategically written to enhance click-through, and ultimately to improve a search engine result.
A meta description must convince the user this is what you were searching for in a limited amount of characters. This can be a challenge for business owners as well as copywriters. A meta description is cut off after 160 characters – including spaces, punctuation and letters. (This may explain a truncated meta description, depicted by a “…” at the end. This will happen when a meta description is too long.)
How Improving a Meta Description Can Affect My Business
There’s a few things you can be doing already to improve a meta description that can ultimately affect if someone will click to visit your webpage.
- Make sure that meta descriptions are unique for each page, with as little duplicated content as possible. It makes sense to not have repetitive meta descriptions if you’re describing different webpages. We already touched on how meta descriptions aren’t necessarily a ranking factor, but how do you think a user would respond if he or she saw the same meta description over and over again, that wasn’t unique to the page she was looking for?
- Is the meta description answering the query? Title tags will definitely describe a webpage, however users turn to the meta description for their ultimate answer, and you need to have something there that will make them click. This is your chance to not only describe the page, but know why this is the best place to click. No pressure, right?
- Create a call to action so you’re giving a user even more incentive to choose your webpage over the others. Simply saying something like call us now, learn more or we’re ready to help you today can mean a world of difference between the webpages above and below you. A meta description can sometimes act as a mini-advertisement for your business or webpage, use that time to call out to your potential customers. Use this time to include a phone number, creating a way for customers to convert that much easier.
- Extra incentives and unique elements to your business should be showcased in the meta description. Examples of this may be, “Get a free quote!” or “We’re open 24/7!”. Again, use these elements as a way to set your business apart from the others. Think about it, wouldn’t you be more willing to click on a webpage that has “free installation” in the meta description rather than a competitor that doesn’t really have anything?
Meta Descriptions Done Right and Wrong
Let’s look at a few examples to make this idea clearer. You are a company that sells BPA-free water bottles. A user goes to Google and searches “BPA-free water bottles.” What comes up?
The first meta description is labeled ‘Decent’ because it contains both the good and the bad of meta descriptions. The good: the content before the run off is rich. It tells the reader they offer what they are searching for and gives an incentive to click- free shipping. The bad: The meta description is too long which explains the … at the end. Also, it gives the reader the fine print in the title tag “Free shipping with $50 purchase”. A person simply searching for a BPA-free water bottle is most likely looking for information or wanting to order one, which would not total more than $50.
The best meta description is written by Thermos. It is short, succinct and gives the reader background about their commitment to safety. Someone searching for BPA-free water bottle is obviously concerned with safety. It also gives a call to action at the end- learn more.
The worst meta description is at the bottom, by Yahoo. It gives the reader absolutely no reason to click that link. The date and byline is great, but it is information that should be seen on the actual webpage, not in the meta description. This could be improved by stating what the article is about. Something along the lines of- How important BPA-free water bottles are to your wallet and health. The searcher will be more inclined to read the article if the meta description is consistent with their search.
What Can I Start Doing Now?
Right now, take the time to go through all of your meta descriptions in a SERP to analyze them. You can use all of the above information to dive into what is going on when someone searches your product or service. If you manage your company’s website, go ahead and start altering some meta descriptions as you see fit. Don’t be scared, anything that can improve a person’s user experience will increase your chances of getting clicked on.
If you see anything we’ve missed let us know below and if you need any help with your meta descriptions, you can head over to our Q & A Forum!