If you are an online marketer, you must be aware that creating the right meta description can help you increase your click-through rate (CTR) significantly. Since the beginning of SEO, meta tags and meta descriptions are considered an important optimization point.
Apart from CTR, optimizing meta description correctly also positively impacts user’s perception of the quality of the search result and what your website offers.
Today, we’re learning more about meta tags, meta descriptions, and the role they play in search results. We’ll also analyze good examples of meta descriptions, and some of the best practices while writing great meta descriptions.
Meta tags refer to specific snippets of text/image content that summarize a given webpage.
Two key elements must be placed as tags in the <head> section of an HTML document. These are:
- Title tag
- Meta description
Here, we are focusing specifically on meta descriptions.
The meta description is simply a meta tag that offers a description of what the page is about and is displayed in the SERPs underneath the title of the page.
It can be seen as a short blurb of text that you write for each web page to summarize the information on the page and why it matters. To avoid getting truncated by Google, your meta description should ideally be kept somewhere between 140-160 characters.
Here we discuss some examples of what a meta description looks like.
Example of Meta Description in Code
<head> <meta name=”description” content=”When writing a meta description, keep it ideally between 140 and 160 characters so Google can display your entire message without truncating it. Do not forget to include your keyword!”></head><br/><br/>
What is the Ideal Meta Description Length?
A standard best practice for years is to keep meta descriptions at around 155-160 characters.
This is mainly because this kind of optimization helps to avoid the truncation of the meta description in SERPs and, as a result, prevents high bounce rates.
Importance of Meta Descriptions
Since meta descriptions appear with your page title and URL on the search engine results pages, they can either help or hurt your results’ click-through rates.
Although Google has announced that the text in meta descriptions and meta tags doesn’t factor into its ranking algorithms for search, they are still important for two key reasons:
- Meta descriptions help convince people to click on your search engine result in the organic listings.
- Since Google measures CTR rate, the meta description can improve your rankings by boosting your website’s organic CTR. It is, therefore, important to take advantage of the opportunity to sell your website with a meaningful message to visitors.
When writing meta descriptions under the limit of 160 characters, it is crucial to focus on the below tips:
- Keep it conversational and make sure you convey value to the reader.
- Include primary keyword naturally.
- Don’t forget a call-to-action.
- Write in active voice and make sure that your descriptions match your content.
- Since there are chances of the descriptions to be truncated when displayed in search, use the first 120 characters to communicate the key message.
Example of Good Meta Descriptions
Here are a couple of more meta description examples from highly-ranking search results:
Example 1: Email Marketing Guide
In this example, campaignmonitor.com not only uses target keywords effectively but also describes what benefits the user will receive.
Example 2: Cheap Flights
This is an excellent example of meta description where kayak.com used keywords most commonly searched for flights, including brand names. Additionally, they also mentioned starting prices to give people a reason to click the search result.
Let’s take a look at some of the best practices when writing meta descriptions.
Write Compelling Copies
Meta descriptions act as advertising copies – drawing readers to click on a web page that appears on SERPs.
Crafting a compelling, readable meta description using relevant keywords can significantly improve the click-through rate for a given webpage.
To maximize CTR on search engine result pages, it’s important to understand that Google and other search engines bold keywords in the description when they match search queries.
This bold text can catch the attention of searchers, which is why you should match your descriptions to search terms as closely as possible.
Example, a user keys in the word “Tesla” on Google:
In this example, the copy discusses what the company represents, its brand values, and its products and services.
Avoid Including Double Quotation Marks
Whenever there are quotation marks used in the HTML of a meta description, Google cuts off that description right at the quotation mark when it appears on a SERP.
To prevent this, remove all non-alphanumeric characters from your meta descriptions. If quotation marks are important in your meta description, use the HTML entity instead of double quotes to prevent truncation by search engines.
This is a great example of a brief and straight to the point meta description without ant double quotation that clearly explains the value of the Travel Yosemite website and what visitors can expect when they click the link.
Include a Call-to-Action
If you want your website visitors to do something on your page, don’t just limit yourself to learn more or read more. Instead, get the potential customers excited to take some definite action by including a proper CTA.
Apart from hitting all the right emotions, Taco Bell’s meta description includes a simple call-to-action asking visitors to click through for offers and even order food now.
Use Active Voice and Make Your Description Actionable
Since meta description acts as the invitation to your web page, you have to think closely about your user and their motivation to visit your page.
Make sure that your meta description isn’t tricky, dull, or too cryptic. Use active voice while writing it and make it actionable.
The example above is the kind of description you should strive for. It’s active, engaging, and addressing you directly.
Make Them Unique
When writing meta descriptions, make sure to customize them for each page on your website. Remember that every meta description should be unique to a web page as each page offers unique content.
Reddit not only includes the company mantra in its meta description but also offers a clear explanation of what it provides, along with adding a personal touch to the message.
While meta descriptions might not directly impact how Google ranks your web pages, they do help entice visitors to click on your web pages.
This makes it important to prioritize your meta descriptions when optimizing the SEO for your site and stick to the 155-160 character limit for best results.