Meta descriptions are a snippet of text shown below the page title and url in the results in search engines like Google or Bing.
The page title and meta description is the doorway to your site. It is there to describe the page and encourages visitors to click through to find out more.
Search engines will tell you that the meta description is not a factor (or at least a significant one) in rankings. But a key ranking signal for most search engines is relevancy. The more people that click through your search result, the increase in relevancy signal to Google. A strong meta description is a key focus for encouraging that click.
Why Should I Click
The purpose of your meta descriptions is to give the potential visitors information about the page and encourage them to click through. Including value proposition details about your brand is a great way to get that traffic.
Why are you so good?
Why should I click through to your page?
Here is a great example from moz.com
Tone of Voice
Creating a tone of voice across your site is crucial to creating engagement and empathy from visitors. The same goes for your meta description. If it comes across as ballsy, and abrasive it won’t have visitors clicking.
At search engine level, the visitor potentially knows very little about you and your brand. So don’t shout ‘I’m amazing’ and ‘Buy now’. Let your website do the selling, you are just calmly opening the door for them.
As previously mentioned, your meta description is not a ranking signal for SEO, so should you bother with keywords?
In search results, the term typed by the user is highlighted in bold. For me, this draws the eye to your result if you have included that keyword, and therefore increases the possibility of a user clicking your result.
Example search term of ‘red shoes’
This was changed by Google to increase from 160 characters to 320. Although there is an urge to now add more text to fill the space, this can be detrimental if it becomes ‘waffle’. Stick to the goal of writing to encourage the click-through rather than trying to hit the character limit.
Less is sometimes more.
Call To Action
Including a CTA in your meta description is an excellent way to improve click throughs. It may be as simple as ‘Click To Find Out More’, ‘Discover The Range’, or ‘View The Video’. For an ecommerce or software brand, it might be adding ‘Free Delivery’ or ‘Free 30 Day Trial’ to peak a visitors attention and encourage them to click.
Be aware at how the adwords results now encroach in the organic search results. Google has added more elements to adwords results to bulk out the descriptions with phone numbers, product categories, and prices to name a few. This has a knock-on effect on how customers interact with your results so it might be worth going less sales driven to stand out more.
Type in your keywords and make a note of the meta descriptions of both the paid and non-paid results to see how you can find an advantage.
If you have a WordPress site then using an SEO plugin can be helpful in reminding you that meta descriptions need to be worked on. Ecommerce platforms like Shopify have this function built in as standard.
I would recommend Yoast SEO plugin for meta description help on all WordPress websites
For those not on Shopify or WordPress, then there are a few free tools that allow you to type in your meta descriptions and check character length and layouts.
You can check how it will show in search results using this tool from totheweb.com
Rather than just putting lots of hard work into creating, testing and optimising great meta descriptions, don’t lose sight of the actual content.
Great CTR results in SERP’s will be let down by poor content which the visitors bounce away from. Maintain a two-pronged attack.