The meta description (along with the title) is often seen as the shop window to your site and has a major influence on how much traffic your site can draw.
We can’t say for certain how much importance Google and the other search engines place on meta descriptions, but we know they can affect potential visitors’ behaviour and potentially get you more clicks.
Here are 5 tips for creating SEO-friendly meta descriptions that the search engines will love and users will want to click.
Stick to the character limit
Most search engines generally have a maximum limit of 150-160 characters before they start to clip, so it’s a risk to go over. We’d also advise against being too conservative; you should always be looking to utilise every last character within the meta description whether it’s with keywords or calls to action. So don’t call it quits at 120 characters – you’d be surprised at what you can fit into the space.
Check out the competition
Like with any aspect of marketing, it’s always important to do some competitor analysis when it comes to meta descriptions. Run some searches for your target phrases and see which websites are ranking.
Ask yourself “What sort of tone are they using?”, “Are they keyword-heavy or just generally informative?” or “Are they using any unique keywords that I haven’t come across?”. You’ll be surprised at the number of tips you can pick up just by looking at what everyone else is doing.
Looking at competitors also gives you a chance to spot any gaps and to identify any opportunities there might be when it comes to creating your meta description. Perhaps none of your competitors is filling their character limit, which gives you the chance to improve your CTR.
Get your keywords as close to the start as possible
As nice as it is to flex your creative writing skills, the beginning of your meta description should address your main keywords to grab the user’s attention. Have you ever clicked on an article that takes an age to get to the point? Most of the time you’ll go elsewhere for a quicker answer, and it’s a similar comparison with meta descriptions. People will spend a fraction of a second looking at your search result so it’s important to show them what they want as soon as possible.
After getting your main keywords out of the way, it’s also a good idea to then give a quick description of what the user can expect to find on the page. The more detailed you are, the more likely you are to get clicks.
Experiment and measure on lower priority pages
For your website pages with the most traffic, you usually want to keep your titles and meta descriptions fairly consistent to keep a steady flow of visitors. This, however, means that you won’t have any room to try anything different with your meta descriptions.
This is where your lower priority pages can come in handy and provide some valuable insight. Pick two pages that are similar in traffic and go for two radically different approaches. You might want to try and pack keywords into one meta description whilst only including one or two in the other, or write a meta description that’s cryptic and mysterious. Get creative with your testing and study the analytics of the pages. What works will depend on your industry and target audience so you never know, you might just find a combination that makes your click-through rate skyrocket!
This can be a particularly good tactic for eCommerce websites.
This might seem like the most obvious of all the points but it’s often one of the most overlooked when writing meta descriptions.
Getting someone to proofread your meta descriptions is vital for readers and search engines to understand what you’re saying. Not only that, but if someone comes across your search result, you’re giving off a poor impression straight away and making your website look sloppy before they’ve even clicked anything.
Looking for more SEO-friendly tips? Check out our blog on creating SEO-friendly URL Structures.