When it comes to search engine results pages, (SERPS) meta descriptions have typically been neglected as an unimportant element of search engine optimization. This is partially due to Google historically exclaiming that meta descriptions do not impact search engine rankings dating back to 2007. This is not the case, however. Let’s find out how meta descriptions affect search results, and most importantly: how to write an effective meta description to increase your click-through-rate.
What does a meta description actually do?
The intent of a meta description is to simply attract Google searchers to your website. In a perfect world, a potential lead will search for something they desire, scroll until reading your meta description on the SERPS, and click your link after realizing your meta describes exactly what they want. A potential lead is thereby created, but how does this affect search engine rankings? It indirectly makes Google consider your link as a good result, because Google includes your website’s “click-through-rate” into its algorithm. Simply put, good meta descriptions increase click-through-rate, which increases SEO ranking, therefore moving your link closer to the top of Google’s SERPS. All in all, meta descriptions don’t get the credit they deserve in terms of how they affect search results.
Writing an effective meta description: 7 steps
- Contain the intended focus keyword
This is the simplest, but often forgotten element of meta descriptions. It is crucial that you include the focus keyword in a meta, as focus keywords are highlighted in search results. This grabs the attention of browsers, showing that your link is at least somewhat relevant to what they are searching for.
- Use action-oriented language
Action words such as “find out,” “discover,” or “purchase,” for example, are an important element of “call-to-action” copy. An effective strategy is to start a meta description off with one of these strong words, then add an explanation of what the individual will receive by clicking the link. A strong call to action can separate any website from its competition.
- Provide a solution or benefit—value proposition
A call to action tells searchers what to do, but it is vital to also include why the searcher should click on a link. Let the searcher know what to expect from your content, making sure to highlight the benefit to them. These two questions should be answered in your meta:
- What is the page offering?
- Why should this page be visited?
A strong value proposition will increase any website’s search engine click-through-rate, especially if targeting the appropriate key words. On the contrary, misleading value propositions will lead to higher bounce rates.
- Keep it under 155 characters
Google measures meta description length by pixels—it automatically cuts off long descriptions after a specific width is crossed. 155 characters is merely a benchmark to aim for, when creating a meta.
- Do not deceive searchers
Click-through-rate does not mean anything if searchers keep immediately clicking the “back” button. This will undoubtedly occur if your meta is not relevant to what searchers are expecting. Many websites practice the bad habit of including as many key words as possible in their meta. This outdated SEO practice will increase bounce rates and negatively impact searcher’s trust.
- Make it specific and relevant
Use basic, descriptive words that get the meta’s point across. “Fluff” wording may seem catchy and unique, but it doesn’t truly help a description. Creating a connection with the intended target audience in a meta description will increase click-through-rate, so try to do so in a simple and specific manner regarding word choice and sentence structure.
- Test, monitor, and adapt
Similar to being successful with paid advertising, it is essential to test, monitor, and adapt meta descriptions. Have you noticed an uptick in bounce rate for a specific page? Examine the meta, and determine if there are too many irrelevant key words present. Perhaps a blog post is boasting a miraculously high click-through-rate. Consider mirroring these meta elements into new blog meta descriptions.
SunCity Advising specializes in meta descriptions—succeed in the SERPS
Testing, monitoring, and adapting meta descriptions and other SEO elements can be time consuming for individuals or businesses lacking proper, expensive marketing tools. Digital marketing consultants have access to these tools and programs, as well as specializing in monitoring SEO factors, making changes in order to maintain a competitive online presence. To maximize results, SunCity Advising assists with SEO strategy development, making sure every aspect of your marketing plan is working together. Our team can help with starting campaigns, improving current campaigns, or even setting up affiliate marketing programs in your name.