How many times have you done research on Google and your search results have little or no content below the link?
Yes, that’s the meta description. And every website should have one.
If you have a website, the meta descriptions should interest you.
Even if you do not personally have a website and simply browse online, the meta descriptions should still interest you.
A meta description is the latest attempt by a website to grab your attention and seal the deal with a click.
Not only is a meta description the last effort of a link to get a visit or two, but it’s also a factor in search engine optimization that many marketers digital ignore.
But a neglected meta description could mean lost viewers, forgotten tracks and less traffic.
Fortunately, adding meta descriptions is simple. Writing good meta descriptions that help SEO is the hardest part – but this can be eased with help and a small practice .
I will explain exactly how.
Meta descriptions explained
A meta-description is the extract of text displayed under each link in the search results. This is the HTML element that provides more information about a website to search engines and users.
Why do meta descriptions exist?
Well, they serve two purposes. They describe the content of a web page to the researcher while convincing and persuading the researcher to click on the link.
Meta-descriptions play a big role in the search results.
All words that match the search query are in bold in the description.
They also serve as a kind of advertisement for this specific website, providing the researcher with a brief overview of what they could win or see by clicking.
See example below for search results for “simple SEO guide.”
The meta-descriptions above are the few lines of text under the title of the link and the URL.
You will see that some have included the bold words of the search query, while others are just the first words of the website or blog.
But meta-descriptions are not restricted to search engine result pages (SERPs).
They also appear when people share content on websites and social media channels. Although search results and SEO are not relevant in this particular case, a well-written meta-content will always encourage openings on social media and external sites.
Advertising clicks on social media, even though they are not technically registered by Google or Bing, nevertheless contribute to the overall traffic, relevance and advertising of a site.
Overall, meta-descriptions can contribute to the success of your website.
The importance of meta descriptions
A meta description is the last selling point of your website for a researcher. This is the most important feature for improving clickthrough rates from a natural search.
Meta-descriptions are a major tool that researchers use to decide which research findings will be most useful, relevant, and authoritative.
They are also very important for search engine optimization, but not how you can think of it.
It is important to emphasize that the content of metadata is not taken into account in the search results. It is therefore not necessary to put keywords in your meta description.
But let’s take a step back and consider not only the behavior of the search engine, but also the human behavior. The content of the meta description can not influence the search engine’s algorithm, but the click-through rate does not .
That’s right. Google is actively measuring user behavior with respect to search results.
There are so many factors that go into the ranking of a website; it is easy to forget that human activity is constantly analyzed and considered.
That makes you think about how you conduct research, does not it?
Knowing this, think about how your meta descriptions look like an average researcher.
Do they use a computer or a person? Is the content arranged to attract the attention of an algorithm or the human eye?
Metadata can not benefit directly to SEO, but clickthrough rates allow, and meta-descriptions allow you to get clicks.
And the more you click on your link, the better the content will be in the search results.
Now, for any search engine results page, it is not certain that every searcher will scroll down – not to mention click on a second or third page.
In fact, the percentages of clicks decrease as you go down the results page, because, logically, the most relevant and reliable links are already located at the top.
At least, that’s what the average researcher assumes.
If your website is located lower on the first page, or even on the second page, you are already working with less than your competitors.
This makes a concise and persuasive meta description all the more crucial for the success of this link.
But these results that fall to the top do not necessarily have their job to do for them either. Ranking in the first results does not always guarantee a click.
Providing a high quality meta description will ensure that one researcher will not scroll for another result.
Relevant results encourage clicks. Meta-descriptions help researchers understand why your link is the most relevant, useful and trustworthy option.
And the more people click on your website, the better your site will be.
Here’s how to add – and write – killer meta-descriptions that convert search queries into infallible clicks.
How to write meta descriptions
For now, go to your website’s HTML site and have a look at . It will look like that.
To add a meta description to the site, insert the content next to (you guessed it) where the HTML code says “content =”.
Whatever content management system you use, you must have full control over what your meta-descriptions say.
This is particularly the case of WordPress, whose main platform facilitates the modification of this information.
If you use an SEO plugin like Yoast, you can add the meta description to the section called “meta description”. You can even preview what it will look like in the SERPs.
Now that we have the technical tips, let’s review some tips for writing meta descriptions that catch the eye of a researcher, block a click-through and boost your SEO.
Basically, writing a good meta description is not so different from writing a great sales copy. It’s a concise persuasion exercise designed to sell everything that lies beyond the bond.
You have a few phrases to catch the attention of someone and get a click.
Every word you add to this meta description should be dedicated to one-click production, while maintaining factual accuracy to meet expectations.
This may be a practice, but it is worth it for the overall health of your website. Fortunately, changing the meta description of your website is easy enough.
If you test a meta description and do not like it, you can simply go back to HTML and try a new one.
If you do not know where to start, prioritize your homepage and the most important pages, such as your product pages, most popular items, or the About page.
Learn to write meta-descriptions, then take the time to fill them for the rest of your website.
Let us now turn to the description of the meta descriptions that are clear, useful and convincing.
Be precise and relevant, including the keyword focus.
In your meta description, you basically have two to three sentences to persuade people to click. So every word of your meta description is important.
Nowadays, the average seeker will recognize a generic meta description, fluffed-up a mile away.
They will probably ignore this type of description for a type that is better suited to their search query.
Use your meta description to connect more with the target audience of your website or publication link. Use relevant language that will please them and be specific about what your site offers.
Put your keyword focus in your meta description authentically . (This means not repeating it multiple times or throwing a few different variations in the interest of better SEO.)
Search engines often bold the words of your meta description that match a searcher’s query. This makes it easier for a researcher to see exactly how your website aligns with what they’ve been looking for.
Use an action-oriented language, with call to action.
The Great Sales Copy Still includes present time and action. Your meta description should not be read differently.
Use the meta description to describe exactly what you want the researcher to do or what exactly will happen when he clicks on your link.
Give the researcher a clear picture of what lies beyond the link.
Consider starting with words such as “Learn”, “Discover”, “Experience” or “Read” so that the researcher has a clear idea of what your website provides. It can also inspire new actions beyond the researcher’s original query.
Provide a solution or benefit.
Think about why people search online. Most likely, they want to research, buy, learn or read something, is not it?
Your meta description should serve as a moment “Ah-ha – I found it!” For a researcher.
How can your website give them what they are looking for? How do they benefit by clicking on your link ? What lies beyond your research result and who can benefit from it or help them in one way or another?
Use your meta description to answer these questions. This information is especially useful when you are competing with other blogs or websites.
Nowadays, most search queries lead to multiple sites offering similar content. What makes your website different and how can you use this information to attract a click?
Keep it short and sweet.
Good digital marketers recognize that, as humans, we have the ability to pay attention to a goldfish – eight seconds, to be exact.
Remember this in any circumstance that involves writing content to persuade or sell, especially when crafting your meta descriptions.
Do not assume that researchers will take the time to review all meta descriptions on the search engine results page.
Choose each word wisely, knowing that people will probably overwrite your description before continuing on the page.
Another important thing to recognize is that Google removes meta descriptions that are too long. There have been reports of Google testing extracts of greater length, but about 150 characters is a safe length.
Case in point – Do not be surprised by your most valuable information at the end!
Do not deceive, but inspire curiosity.
You might think that it’s a good idea to beautify your meta description only to get a click. Who cares if a researcher stays on your website as long as they click first?
Not a stellar strategy.
If you’re not honest about what a researcher can expect from your link, he probably will not hesitate to click the “back” button.
And too many quick releases can hurt your site’s bounce rate – and, more importantly, the researcher’s confidence in your content.
Be honest and clear about the content of your website.
Do not stuff your meta description of keywords, either. Instead, think about asking a question containing a few key words.
Just provide enough (true) information about your link without giving it away. Inspire a click with curiosity – no deception.
Good and Less Good Examples of Meta Descriptions
Need real examples of the above criteria? Below are some good and bad meta descriptions based on some popular search queries.
Let’s review the results of some popular search queries about online marketing, starting with some good examples.
“How to create backlinks”
This meta description is short, but includes the keyword focus (“backlinks”) and uses words like “little known” and “never seen” to inspire curiosity.
This meta description is strong because it mentions the benefit of building backlinks. It also explains exactly what a researcher will see when he clicks on the link.
“What’s the White SEO Hat”
This meta description not only uses a useable word (“learn”), but also explains the benefits of learning white hat techniques and how they can help your website.
This meta description uses a question to attract the attention of the researcher, and then provides a clear solution that describes the content of the website, including action words like “teach” and “execute.”
“Best Content Marketing Practices”
This meta description spreads the focus keywords so that more content is put in bold, thus increasing its chances of being noticed. It also mentions B2B and B2C, which increases the number of audience members who will benefit from a click-through.
This meta description, although short and truncated at the end, provides a concise advantage of content marketing and explains what the web page contains.
Sometimes an ellipse at the end of a meta description can help inspire curiosity and generate a click.
Now, for the not so great meta description examples, using the same keywords.
“How to create backlinks”
It is clear that this site does not have a meta description because it simply repeats the title and goes straight into the first line of the content, providing no insight or language.
Forgetting to include a meta description leaves your website open to meta-random and irrelevant content. Researchers will recognize when you have neglected it.
“What’s the White SEO Hat”
Although this meta description is interesting and personable, it lacks relevance and focus on keywords. In fact, it is more likely to appear in the results for “black hat SEO” since the keyword is mentioned twice.
The meta-descriptions could be compared to the subject lines of the e-mail in this case. The use of something unique and fun can help attract attention, but going too far out of line can simply be confusing.
“Best Content Marketing Practices”
This meta description does not include any information relevant to the title of the site, and does not include any keywords of development.
This may be another case of a neglected meta description, leaving it open to capture the first lines of content.
In this case, it was a bad choice for the website, especially since it appears on the third page of the search results.
Although your meta descriptions do not have a direct effect on your SEO, they play an important role in explaining the content of your web page and in the clicks generated.
It’s easy to add them – it’s good to write them, it’s a bit more difficult. Treat them as you would for your ad or website copy, and the numbers of your website traffic will thank you.
In what ways did you improve your meta-descriptions to help SEO?
About the author: Neil Patel is the co-founder of Neil Patel Digital.