Often an overlooked aspect of SEO strategy, meta descriptions are an important part of driving traffic to your web page because they convince the reader that your website will meet their needs. Although they do not contribute to page rankings, many marketers overlook the importance of a compelling meta description in a user’s process of deciding which website they believe is the most relevant to their search. Writing a compelling meta description is essentially a brief sales pitch that, when paired with proper SEO, will result in more traffic to your website.
What is a Meta Description?
Don’t be ashamed if you aren’t exactly sure what a meta description is. It’s the short paragraph that is located under a page title when doing a web search. This tells the reader more about your website, and convinces them that you will provide them with the information they are seeking.
How Long Should A Meta Description Be?
Similar to the page title, is actually limited by pixel width and not character count. The most agreed upon length of a meta description is right around 155 characters for websites and 142 characters for blogs, due to the date stamp in the meta description. The length of the meta description will be determined by the search term, meaning lengthier searches may pull more information from your page, but this is a general rule of thumb to follow for an optimal meta description.
Components of a Compelling Meta Description
There is a fine line between keyword optimization and overuse in a meta description. It’s important that you don’t keyword bog your meta description or searchers won’t understand the relevance of your website and continue searching. A relevant meta description will use the keyword phrase once or twice, or will at least describe what the user is looking for. Utilize these components with proper keyword phrase usage if you want to write a relevant, compelling meta description.
Use a Call to Action
Call to action’s are common standards in the marketing language because of their ability to motivate a reader to perform the action you are seeking. Use verbs like ‘discover’, ‘read’, and ‘find’ in the meta description to grab the attention of the reader and drive them to click on your web page.
Specify Your Purpose
Why is your website better than another website that covers the same topic? Specify your goal or purpose. Why will this purpose benefit them as a reader searching for information. For example, if you are writing an article about writing compelling meta descriptions you may say “We want to provide marketers with the skills to write compelling meta descriptions that drive web traffic.” By stating my purpose, and explaining how the content provided will benefit the reader, I am increasing the likelihood of a person searching for this information and clicking on my website as opposed to another search option with a less compelling meta description.
Don’t make promises that you don’t follow through on. If I were to use the meta description from the previous example, and then provide content that does not meet this expectation, the reader will most likely hit the back button. This will increase your bounce rate and, in turn, diminish your SEO over time. To avoid this, make sure that your meta description accurately describes what your web page will cover.
The use of quotation marks actually results in truncation, meaning that Google will cut out this part of your meta description. If you would like to include something in quotations in your meta description, it is best to use an apostrophe in replacement of a quotation mark.
Choosing When to Use A Meta Description
Google’s Matt Cutts recently spoke on when you should utilize a unique meta description. If you are not constantly providing relevant information, it is not necessary for every page to have a unique meta description. In that case, it is better to not have a meta description at all and allow Google to snip the relevant information from your website. You should use a compelling meta description on important web pages, like your home page, for content that you find is important, blog posts, and if you find that Google does not snip the information from a web page well.
Meta descriptions are often overlooked, but the power of a compelling meta description on an important web page could make the difference between an individual choosing your website over another. It serves as both your website’s sales pitch and welcome letter. Where do you stand on meta description usage? Do you find that your web pages with a strong meta description perform better than those without? Contact us at Fahrenheit Marketing to learn more about the ins and outs of SEO, website design, website development, and any marketing question you may have! We are passionate about our work and enjoy everything marketing and advertising.