Tips for An Effective Meta Description
Of all the types of metadata, a meta description is one of the most impactful. A high-quality one can raise the traffic of your pages. If you are developing a website with a business purpose, the meta description should be on your priority list to pay attention to.
What Is A Meta Description?
A meta description is a type of metadata to give a glimpse of what a page contains. The narration will be a part of your page's snippet when it appears on the SERP (Search Engine Result Page). It usually appears right below the clickable title page and the link address.
Here is the HTML format of a meta description:
<title>Title of the page</title>
<meta name="description" content="Enter description here.">
Most search engines will not take more than 160 characters of the meta description. The system will truncate it automatically when the script exceeds the number of words allowed.
What Is The Purpose of It?
The purpose of meta description is to give a short description of the content on the said page will discuss. It will help people to know what they can expect if they decide on the page.
What your meta description says doesn't directly affect how your page will get ranked in SERP (search engine result page). Yet, it holds the critical point on whether people would decide to click it or not. But if we think further about it, the more people clicking onto your page will make your website more popular. Its click-through rate will increase.
Search engines, especially Google, take click-through-rate into account. A high-ranked URL with a low click-through rate will get detected as not interesting to visit. Hence, the algorithm will rank the page lower. On the contrary, a higher click-through rate will make search engines rank your pages up.
Why Should You Write A Meta Description Manually?
If you don't write your page's meta description, search engines will quote a piece of your content and use it as the meta description. With such technology, many people think it is unnecessary to write one yourself.
Furthermore, search engines will not even consider the content of your meta description. They will only detect the keywords in it. Hence, people are getting even more certain that there is no need to spend their energy to tailor a meta description for each of your pages.
What many people fail to realize is that search engines might quote the content ineffectively. Most of the time, an auto-generated snippet will miss the key points of the content. Not to mention that it will also truncate the paragraph. It will not be enjoyable to read, let alone convince people to click.
Meta descriptions that are auto-generated by search engines are prone to appear duplicated. This is why you need to write each one of them individually. Yet if you still choose to let the bot do it, the least you can do is to review it. Some plugins can help you identify duplicate meta descriptions, so it shouldn't be much of a hassle.
How to Write A Compelling Meta Description?
A convincing meta description can boost traffic. Thus, it is crucial to write it as effectively as possible. Considering that search engines have strict limits for the character limits of meta description, you need to come up with the right strategy when writing it.
Now the question is, what should you put in these short text boxes to boost your organic search? Here are some tricks that may work:
Search engines don't care much about the wording structure of your meta description. They only detect the target keyword. It doesn't even give a strong signal to the algorithm. Don't write your meta description in hopes that it will make your pages get higher ranks.
The key to a successful meta description relies on the humans who use the search engine services. It is the humans who will read the text and think about them. Furthermore, it is also them who will decide whether your pages are worth visiting. A meta description is necessary to attract people coming onto your pages.
To entice people, you might need to indulge some emotions in your meta description. This concept has long been applied to the body content of a page, and it is proven effective to make the article sound natural and engaging. Now, apply the same strategy to your meta description.
Search engines only give a space of 160 characters to show meta descriptions on a desktop. On the mobile version, the limit is down to 120 characters. There was one time when Google allowed up to 300 characters for both versions. Yet eventually, the rule changed back to 160 characters because it is more efficient this way.
It is useless to write longer than that because it will get truncated anyway. It might even be redundant instead because some vital information might get cut down. On the other hand, having less than 50 characters for a meta description is not a good idea either because it might provide unclear information about your content.
Using your keyword is a must for meta description. It is the tool that allows search engines to detect your website as a relevant page to show on SERP. It is not impossible to get ranked well without a keyword, but it will be extremely hard.
For the best results, you better use the long-tail keyword instead of the short-tail one. Long-tail keywords usually consist of three words or more, which makes the topic more specific. By using such keywords, there will be fewer competitors and the signal is stronger. Thus, boosting your chance to get ranked higher on the SERP.
You don't have much to say here, so you have to focus on the value. Be as concise as possible on your metadata, especially on the title tag. Go straight to the point, so people know what to expect when they visit your web. Make it sounds like your page has valuable information about the thing that your audience is searching for. Furthermore, do it as specific as possible. After all, representative information is all that people need from reading the metadata.
Writing a meta description that is irrelevant to the content is a terrible idea because your visitors will likely bounce back soon after they click on your website. With a high bounce rate, search engines might detect your website as spam and rank it down.
Although keywords are pretty useful, don't try to trick the system by stuffing irrelevant keywords. Even overstuffing your meta descriptions with multiple LSI keywords or synonyms will not work well either. Instead of giving stronger signals, overstuffing keywords will make your page detected as spam instead. There is no hope for a rank-up. On the contrary, your page will get penalized and ranked down by the search engines instead. You just need to stick to one primary keyword for this short text box.
Besides that, overstuffing keywords will give you no room left for describing your content, which should be the actual goal of your meta description. The text will also be out of focus and somewhat confusing. Your snippet will look less appealing for people to read, let alone to click on it.
Search engines will not read your meta descriptions. Humans will. So, you have to write the text for humans to read. This principle is quite fundamental, yet many people seem to underestimate it. Many website owners are too focused on cramping valuable information in one short paragraph that they care less about how the text sounds.
Remember that on SERP, there will be other snippets leading to your competitor's website. People will scroll through the page and skim all the meta descriptions stated. Chances are they will opt for the link with the most inviting and informative description. That is why you need to give them a reason to stop scrolling, read your snippet, and click it.
A call-to-action (CTA) sentence to finish your meta description will give a psychological impact on your audience's minds. The strategy has been proven effective to add a sense of urgency to quickly take action about what they have just read. You can see it yourself that in time, your page's CTR will go higher after inserting CTA at the end of your snippet.
Due to the character limitation of a meta description, you need to make your CTA as short and specific as possible. Some examples are "Find Out Here" or "Get Your Discount Now". Make it feels like your audience will miss a thing if they don't click right away.
Using the same meta description for multiple pages might sound like a shortcut, especially if the content is similar and all those pages share the same keywords. However, this trick is worse than not writing any meta description at all. Search engines may penalize websites with duplicate meta descriptions.
Furthermore, a meta description that you write for multiple pages might not provide accurate and specific information. Thus, it will not effectively serve its function. Each meta description must be unique. It also needs to be specific and accurate in telling what the content is all about.
While it is bad to use one meta description for multiple pages, doing the opposite might be an effective strategy. Yes, you can make more than one meta description for one page. This strategy gives search engines options to choose which one relevant to the user's search query.
Although it might give you more chances to appear as one of the top search results, this practice is unnecessary most of the time. You can try this strategy if you have a few different ideas to write on the page's meta description, and all of them are still strongly relevant to the page content. There is no need to write multiple texts if you are only replacing the keyphrases with their synonyms.
Evaluating Your Meta Description
Knowing the importance of meta descriptions, you might want to take a second look at your website. It might be necessary to check all the pages in it to see if there are some that you missed. Also, even if the pages already had meta descriptions, you might need to review their quality.
To make your job easier, there are several online tools that you can use. Yoast SEO plugins can help you check the length and keyphrase usage. It can also detect other metadata and SEO elements. There is also Semrush Site Audit, the tool that can show you which pages of your website that have no meta descriptions, or if any duplications occur.
When Your Meta Description Doesn't Show
Sometimes you might also find that search engines don't use the meta description you made. It can be frustrating, especially if you have tailored it carefully.
The most common reason why such a thing happens is that search engines found fault in your meta description, such as keyword overstuffing or irrelevancy between the description and the content. All of those issues are easy to avoid if you follow the tips mentioned above in this article.
Another possibility is that search engines "think" it can provide a more effective meta description to match the query searched at the time. If you are confident that your meta description has been compelling enough, then this case is the most possible reason for your unused script. In this case, you have nothing to worry about.
Think of your meta description as a short ads box posted in a magazine. You need it to invite people to come into your shop. There is nothing much you can say in there, so you have to be creative on how to make it worth it. Invest your attention and even money if needed to make a compelling meta description. It will pay off eventually after your pages gain more traffic and generate more leads.