Five Crucial SEO Techniques for Meta Descriptions

Five Crucial SEO Techniques for Meta Descriptions

September 23, 2015

When Google said a while ago that meta descriptions were not important to search engine rankings, many marketers neglected them and focused instead on other aspects of SEO. However, since Google often displays meta descriptions in search engine results pages (SERPs), they play an extremely important role in website click-through rates.

Why Meta Description Are Important for SEO

These short snippets of content are often the first contact people using the Internet have with your business. They tell searchers who you are, what you do, and what you have to offer. If you get meta descriptions right, people can clearly see that your content is relevant to them and they're more likely to click on your link.

There are three main parts to a SERP entry: the page title, URL, and description. But it's the meta description that takes up the most space and is often viewed for longer by search engine users. Meta descriptions not only impact click-through rates (CTRs), but also affect website bounce rates, which are factored into the Google algorithm. Basically, a simple way to improve search rankings is to write better meta descriptions.

Five Tips for More Search Engine-Friendly Meta Descriptions

1. Include Target Keywords

The language you use should clearly communicate what the page is about, so searchers know what to expect when they land on your site. However, don't promise more than you can deliver; if the content doesn't meet users' expectations, you'll only see an increase in bounce rates, which will damage your search rankings.

Think about how your content can solve users' problems. If a search keyword matches text in the meta description, Google is more likely to use the keyword and bold it in the SERPs. This will make your description stand out and encourage click-throughs. It's also important to make each meta description unique. Otherwise, you may be penalized by Google for having duplicate content.

2. Be Persuasive

One of the best ways to encourage click-throughs is to align your message with the key values of your target audience. For example, if you're selling eco-friendly kitchen supplies, you could use phrases like “kinder to the environment,” “family-friendly,” and so on. Look at the pages on your website and consider the main value of each page. Now use the meta description to “sell” each page. In other words, show how your content will benefit your readers.

3. Inspire Curiosity

As in all good writing, one of the most effective ways to keep people reading is to make them curious. What is around the corner? What will your page say about a specific topic? When people have finished reading your meta description, they should be curious about what more you have to say on the subject.

One of the best ways to achieve this is to reveal just enough information to arouse curiosity, but not too much to ruin the potential surprise. Being provocative can sometimes work, but be careful not to offend people or be provocative just for the sake of it.

4. Use Calls-to-Action

Using the right words in the right context can make the difference between a link that gets clicked and one that gets ignored. A simple way to inspire action from users is to use language that encourages action. For example, calls-to-action such as “Learn more,” “Get your free trial here,” and “Sign up now” can encourage someone to take that extra step and click on your link.

5. Make Them the Appropriate Length

There is no clearly defined number of characters you must use for meta descriptions; it depends on how Google prefers to show the search result. For example, Google may add a date to a description that will reduce its length. Nevertheless, SEO experts generally agree that 130 to 155 characters is the optimum length.

If your meta description is too long, Google will cut it short and display ellipses (…) at the end of the description. However, this can actually be a smart way to encourage click-throughs by inspiring curiosity, especially if the beginning of the description is interesting.

The Bottom Line

Although meta descriptions are not used by search engine algorithms to rank pages, they still indirectly impact your search rankings by affecting click-through rates. Therefore, it's important that you give them the attention they deserve. After all, they are the link between a search result and your website. In summary:

  1. Include target keywords
  2. Promote the unique value of your content
  3. Make readers curious to find out more
  4. Use calls-to-action
  5. Make them the appropriate length

Follow these suggestions and you'll maximize your presence in SERPs, help boost your search rankings, and ultimately generate more qualified leads.

Need expert help with strengthening your online presence? Are you unsure how to optimize your website in an ever-changing digital landscape? Whatever your needs, call Steven Milanese today for professional solutions tailored to your unique budget and marketing goals.
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