What is a meta description?
A meta description is the small snippet of text you see under a listing on the search results page. A little like this:
A meta description will highlight the terms you’re searching for, to help you find the most relevant page. For instance, in the above example, “FINALLY Agency” and “Contact” are in bold because that was what I typed into Google.
Why is a good meta description important?
As well as your page title and URL, your meta description is the first impression a potential visitor will have of your page and website. And although meta descriptions have no impact on rankings on Google at least, they have a significant effect on converting impressions to clicks.
Think of it as a pitch to viewers as to why they should be clicking through to your page.
Tips to creating the best meta description
1. Include your primary keyword
If you have done your keyword research and targeted your page, you should know what terms you are focusing on and how your users will be finding your page.
Including your primary keyword in your meta description will help your audience understand what your page is about and if it will meet their needs.
2. Use visualisation tools
Visualisation tools are brilliant, not just for writing your meta description, but your title and URL too. My personal favorite tool for writing meta descriptions is the Meta Length Checker -
Title Tag & Description Tool from Mrs. Digital.
Using a tool like this helps you preview exactly what your search result will look like and let you know if you are over the character limit. It will also show you how it looks from an aesthetic standpoint.
3. Stay within the character length
Talking about exceeding character limits…
Don’t do it. There’s really no benefit to exceeding your character count It will only leave your meta description looking half finished and won’t give your audience the insight they need .
The rule is 160 characters, however I would recommend keeping descriptions between 120 and 155 characters to be safe. Try to fit a compelling summary of your page into this limit to encourage people to click through.
4. Use an active voice
When you are writing your latest tweet, to get your audience’s attention you don’t want to sound passive and boring; you want to have energy and make people excited to find out more. The same applies here too.
Use an active voice (that is, writing in the present tense) to entice people to click through, however don’t be click-baity as this can be deceiving and negatively affect your bounce rate.
5. Match user intent
As I mentioned before, your meta description should be directly affected by your keyword research. This also applies to how your target audience searches and looks for things.
You want your meta description to make your audience's questions feel heard. For more tips on user intent, check out our blog.
6. Match page content
Google and other search engines are very good at determining if your meta description and page content are related, and if they are not your page will be penalised.
I always recommend writing the meta description for a page after it’s complete so you can best understand the purpose of your page.
7. Use a strong CTA
Rolling back to our analogy of tweets, for the best results you want to write a good call to action that tells users what to do next and what's in it for them.
Like I mention in my blog on writing CTAs, a great call to action is one that will get your audience to follow an instruction AND give them the motivation to do so.
8. Don’t be deceptive
Once again, Google will know if you are being deceptive and penalise your page for bad practices. Create useful content and talk about that, because that’s what people are looking for.
A click-bait meta description with lacklustre content isn’t going to be useful to anybody.
What did we learn?
- Include your primary keyword.
- Use visualisation tools.
- Stay within the character length.
- Use an active voice.
- Match user intent.
- Match page content.
- Use a strong CTA.
- Don’t be deceiving.