How to make great meta descriptions


Meta descriptions have always been an essential optimization. While they don’t help rankings, they do help with other goals such as improving your clickthrough rate by challenging people to click on your listing compared to others who may not be that interesting.

Meta descriptions are considered an indirect signal because they do not directly affect search rankings.

But does that mean you should ignore them as part of your SEO efforts? Absolutely not!

Here you will learn how to create great meta descriptions that help search engines understand the content of your site and inspire users to click and visit your website.

What is a meta description?

A meta description is an HTML tag that gives search engines and search engines a description of what the page is about. Appears on search engine results pages (SERPs) below the page title.

Meta Descriptions Vs. SERP Snippets

Some people misuse the terms “meta description” and “search snippet” alternately.

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But meta descriptions and search snippets are two different things.

A meta description is an HTML tag that you control. You can create and optimize your own meta descriptions.

Search snippets are descriptions that Google displays for your website. It could be either the meta description you created, or it could be something else entirely. Google controls this.

Why wouldn’t Google use your meta description? Depending on your search query, Google may generate a description of your website that is completely different from the meta description you created.

This is nothing new. Google automated this process many years ago.

According to a recent dub study performed by Yoast:

  • Google overwrites many search snippets independently, yes help match the search query more precisely.
  • In two-thirds of the cases they examined, Google used sentences from first paragraph to create a search snippet. Of course, this does not mean that Google will do the same for your site, but there is an indication that the introduction to the article should at least consider whether it would be a good alternative to the meta description.

The difference between meta descriptions and search snippets is important, especially when Google makes announcements – such as when Google extended the length of search snippets (only for shorten clips approximately six months later).

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Why are meta descriptions important for SEO?

As many other ranking factors came into play, meta descriptions became less influential and were no longer used at all in ranking. In fact, Google confirmed in 2009 that while search engines used meta information in rankings in the earliest days of Google, they were devalued long before even then.

So how are they used today?

Meta descriptions can help drive clicks, traffic, potential conversions, and revenue through:

  • Increase website CTR in SERPs: Over the years, there have been studies that support the idea that well-written and properly optimized meta descriptions can increase your CTR. Sistrix has released a report showing when the SERP includes a featured clip, CTR for position one fell by an average of 5.3%, for example.
    Screenshot taken by the author, December 2021Meta Descriptions
  • Better traffic: The higher you are in the SERP, the more likely you are to receive clicks which in turn result in higher quality traffic. Zero Limit Web has revealed this 81.3% the search resulted in an organic click on page 1. And results from 6 to 10 accounted for only 3.73% of clicks.
  • Potential conversions: Creating a well-written meta description that is closely related to the topic of the page, is interesting to users and highly optimized for the intention of the user can significantly increase conversions from search to your site.

What is the recommended or ideal length of the meta description?

For years, it was considered standard best practice for SEO for meta descriptions to be a maximum of 160-165 characters (or 156-160 characters, depending on who you were talking to).

The reason for this is that this optimization helps to avoid shortening the meta description in the SERPs and as a result helps to limit the rejection rate.

Do your own testing. Find out exactly what works for your site.

7 Meta Description Writing Tips and Best Practices

Explore your competitors

Whatever your industry, SERP research will help you see what works for your competitors – and that’s when you need to win.

Track relevant SERPs over the next few days, weeks and months.

Estimate exactly which meta descriptions appear in the highest positions, where you want to rank.

To do a SERP survey effectively:

Step 1: Research the SERPs for your target keyword

It’s easier said than done, I know. It can take a long time to manually go through each search result and identify exactly what your competition’s kryptonite is.

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The reason why we looked at the competition is that the techniques that are currently working are usually implemented in the competition.

Step 2: Investigate the SERPs for your competition and what they do

Here you can look at your competition and understand exactly what they do for their brands.

Step 3: Put them together in the table and follow them

Using SEO Quake extension for Google Chrome, you can export Google SERPs to an Excel spreadsheet fairly quickly and efficiently. This will allow you to keep a constant record of the competition and to monitor them easily and efficiently on a monthly basis, without huge monthly costs.

Map your client’s journey

Identify the optimal shopping journey of your target audience and what happens at each stage of the marketing flow.

The marketing flow can vary greatly depending on your target market, so sharing the exact flow to be tracked here would be useless.

Target and customize your meta descriptions according to your findings.

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Use the unique tone and style of your brand

Each brand should have a unique tone of voice, in line with the brand identity; this is how the brand appears to online users.

Each meta description should be uniquely crafted and adapted to how that tone of voice is amplified in the brand ecosystem.

You wouldn’t use the same tone of voice for a corporate law website as you would for a kindergarten website, would you?

So why would you use a tone of voice that is exactly the same from page to page?

The main advantage of the tone of voice is that it reaches something different persons targeting specific keywords.

By targeting people with user intent and combining keywords with this research, it is possible to reach your target audience with a level of sophistication and optimization that really resonates.

Include keywords that your audience is actually searching for

Google continues to claim that it does not use keywords in the meta description for ranking purposes. But when you do a SERP survey, what do you see? Highlighted keywords in the meta description.

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This is not convincing proof that Google is using it, but it is something that can draw your reader to the most relevant result that will satisfy their query.

If your meta description meets their intent better than any other result that appears, you will get a click.

Take advantage of social headline trends

As a social media connoisseur, you are most likely on the rise in your industry when it comes to accurately identifying what is in trend and what is not satisfying your audience.

Tracking influential accounts and industry firms should already be part of your strategy.

Go a step further, assess which topics are currently in trend in your space and see which meta descriptions appear for the best ranked results.

Google Trends, BuzzSumo, and Trend Themes on Twitter are good places to check out and see what might be in trend that’s relevant to your industry.

Aim for a specific search intent

Generalized meta descriptions and hollow phrases like “best widgets” and other sales speeches can turn away potential buyers.

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It is important to instill confidence that your result is something that will satisfy the user’s intention to query.

You want to talk about what your readers are really looking for, not try to convince them of your sales flow.

Refresh your meta descriptions on older content

Refreshing outdated content on a website can be a boon for the site and is a great way to gain new appeal to older sites.

Also, by refreshing your meta descriptions, it is possible to get more social media attraction as a result. You can re-share and get more visibility from older posts if you systematically refresh all your meta descriptions.

Examples of great meta descriptions

So what does a great meta description look like?

Here are some examples:

“Pain and suffering are very real for the victim in case of personal injuries. Learn more about how to reduce the discomfort of our personal injury lawyers in this latest blog post. ”

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“By thinking clearly about your needs, it is possible to find a computer that will help you do all the things you love at the moment, even more. Our technicians explain. ”

“What are you looking for in the widget? Our widget technicians can help you find the best one for your needs. These are the things you should look out for in widgets. ”

Not every type of meta description will work well for every industry. Here comes testing, evaluating your results, and making changes based on those results.

Customize your meta description of the website and all the way to the page that is designed for your users. And always watch out the intention of the user keep in mind as you integrate the above optimizations.

Optimizing meta descriptions requires achieving balance

All of this must be done with respect to character limits, proper branding and tone of voice, and targeted optimizations for specific pages.

It’s a delicate balance that must be maintained with an interweaving of common SEO elements.

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If there’s only one thing you take away from this chapter, I hope it’s this: always write your meta descriptions from the perspective of improving the user experience and providing useful information.

This is what meta descriptions do best.

They won’t help you rank better in your search, but they can help you win more clicks from your search by showing users the value your site can offer.


Image Credits

Featured image: Paulo Bobita / Search Engine Diary
All screenshots were made by the author

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