I’ll be the first to admit it: the first time I wrote a blog post, I had a lot of new terminology to learn.
Specifically, I didn’t know the purpose of a meta description and why it was so important to add one to a blog post. After all, wouldn’t Google highlight the most relevant part of my blog in search results? Not exactly.
This post will show you why meta descriptions are important and how to write effective ones. Before all that, though, let’s discuss what a meta description is.
What is a meta description?
A meta description is the snippet of information below the blue link in a search result. Its purpose is to describe the content of the page in the search engine.
All words matching the search term are in bold in the description. The ultimate goal is to convince and persuade the search engine to click on your website.
Here is an example of a meta description as shown on the search engine results page (SERP):
Note that since the query is “What is inbound marketing?”, Both words appear in bold in the metadescription.
Note also how the meta description provides a clear and concise snapshot of the topic, which tells the reader what to expect.
To remain visible on Google, you should keep the meta descriptions between 140 and 160 characters.
Why are metadescriptions important?
Metadescriptions are important because they let Google know what your website is about. If Google can read and understand the content of your meta description, it will be more likely to rank your page in response to search queries.
🧡 TL; DR: Meta descriptions increase organic traffic and bring more eyes to your web pages.
If you do not include a meta description, Google will display a snippet of text from the first paragraph of your page. If there is a search keyword in this text, it will be in bold. While that’s not a bad thing, not including a meta description means losing the opportunity to customize the message you send to browsers.
Examples of meta description
Metadescriptions should be quick summaries, one or two sentences, of the content of your web page. They should tell the reader what they can expect to find after clicking on your link. For example, here’s a meta description for a data-driven marketing report:
This metadescription describes exactly what will be in the report, who is presenting the information, and why the content will be useful to readers. If browsers were typing queries such as “SEO Trends in 2021”, this metadescription is likely to appear in your results.
Meta descriptions follow a few simple rules: they are short, descriptive, and use keywords. But after that, you have the freedom to play with what they say. Use it to your advantage when creating your meta description:
If you know that your website will present content that is normally considered a bit dry, the way to engage browsers is to make a compelling meta description, like the one above.
Readers often check only the first page of results for their search queries. That’s why being ranked on a webpage is important. While meta descriptions aren’t the most important thing in determining your ranking (you’ll want to fully optimize on-page SEO for this), they’re sure to help.
An excellent meta description has the potential to appear on the first page of results, and even a fantastic one could be the first, like this example:
The meta description told Google how your page will solve the query challenge.
Now, you may be wondering if there is a secret key or formula for writing a perfect meta description, in addition to the above rules. Although the secret key has not yet been located, there are some tips and tricks you can follow when writing your meta description. Let’s talk about a few below.
Meta description tips
Google suggests that a meta description should tell users what this website is about. Based on the information in a meta description, the search engine ranks the results by relevance.
Think of metadata as an argument for your webpage. Communicate why the page will be useful to the reader, and make sure that it accurately reflects what is on the page. If a reader doesn’t find what the meta description promises, they’ll probably click on it.
Here are some tips for writing an amazing meta description.
1. Answer the question.
People are likely to be on Google searching for an answer to a question. Try to get your head around it and think about what they are looking for that can help your content.
Use your meta description to answer this question with a solution or benefit. For example, suppose your website offers readers a free template for writing standard operating procedures.
The question Google is likely to ask the public is “What is a SOP?” So your meta description should tell readers that they can use your guided template to learn how to write one. For example, this would be my meta description if you were to write one to answer this query:
⁇“Learn everything you need to know about how to write a standard operating procedure (SOP) and find out how to write one that is amazing.”
This metadescription answers the question and provides a small detail about the rest of the content of the publication.
2. Mention a solution to the challenge.
Provide a solution to the challenge your readers want to address. For example, if you are writing a blog post that is a summary of useful CRM software, mention how many articles are in the post and why that post will be valuable to readers.
If I had to write a meta description for a summary, then I would come up with something like this:
⁇“Discover the top 15 CRM software options for your small business and find out why they’re great for simplicity, customer retention, and organization.”
Remember that meta descriptions are the elevator of your page – sell the content of your post so that readers click on it. This description tells readers how many options they will read and why it is important for them to know.
3. Keep the description concise.
The body of your page is where you will educate your audience, so the meta description doesn’t have to be long. Provide a quick summary of the page or point of the page that will stand out to readers. Metadescriptions must be less than 160 characters long.
A good way to check the duration of a meta description is to write a tweet. Twitter limits you to 280 characters and alerts you when you reach your limit:
If your description fills more than half the circle in the tweet box, you should consider cutting it out. Metadescriptions should serve as a snapshot, not as the body text of the post; save it for when readers access your page.
4. Don’t overuse your keywords.
While your meta description should have keywords, it should also be natural for the reader. If you overuse your keywords just to get a high ranking, readers may not understand your meta description. A difficult-to-follow description could take a browser away from your page.
For example, suppose your website offers content for interview materials, and the main keywords are “interview success,” “excellent interview tips,” and “interview preparation.” .
You can write a metadescription that reads on the line, “A successful interview offer that can be downloaded for free to be successful in preparing for interviews.” However, that sounds a bit awkward and hard to follow, right? Instead, try something softer:
⁇“Learn tips and tricks for interviewing with this downloadable job search kit.”
This description still uses two keywords, but it also makes sense to the reader and gives you the background information you need to know how this offer page will help you.
5. Be attractive and unique to your readers.
If you can, make your meta descriptions fun and engaging to read. Something appealing that will keep the reader from scrolling through a SERP. This is especially useful if the content of your website is attractive and unique.
Match the content content of your goal. Suppose the content of your website is a blog post about funny workplace memes. Your description of this could be simple and get everything a meta description should do, such as “These 20 workplace memes are fun, timely and shareable.”
A description like this covers all your basics, but leaves out the personality. The post looks like it was fun and interesting to put together, so that shouldn’t stick with the body of the text! Instead, try this more compelling approach:
⁇ “Light up your work day with these cool, fun memes that any professional can relate to. Anyone, cat videos?”
A description like this sells your content, tells readers what to expect, and yet manages to be interesting in just two sentences.
6. Attract readers with a call to action.
If you want to persuade the reader to take action or create a sense of urgency, try calling for action at the end of the description.
Let’s look at this example from Neil Patel:
There are plenty of CTAs to choose from, for example: Learn more, Sign up todayo Start a free trial. Context is important here, so choose one that works with the content you provide.
7. Avoid duplicate meta descriptions.
While Google won’t actively penalize you for duplicating your site’s meta descriptions, it’s still bad for SEO. Because? If you have too many identical descriptions, search engines may mark some of your content as low quality or redundant, affecting your ranking.
Instead, make it meaningful, easy to understand, and descriptive, as if it were an elevation argument for your blog post.
Back to you
Your meta description is your chance to gain readers. Be sure to create an attractive meta description for your website that will persuade people to choose your content first. After all, if your web pages are meant to be useful and valuable to browsers, so should the content that describes them.