What is a meta description? This is the extra information listed under your blog post name in search results. Google gives you the first chance to edit this so that you can encourage more clicks to your website. You should take advantage of the opportunity to get more website traffic.
This meta description is Google’s way of letting you give people searching a bit more information on what you offer. The purple arrow in the image below points to the meta description.
This post was originally published on July 15th, 2017 and has been updated to be current with new information. This post may contain affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Full disclosure is here.
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Writing Effective SEO Meta Descriptions
The meta description appears underneath the clickable links in the search engine results page (SERP). Writing your own meta description is a good habit to get into. You get 150 to 160 characters to write compelling copy worthy of someone clicking through, so go for it!
If you are not putting some work into your meta descriptions, you may be leaving money on the table. And getting less traffic in general.
Writing your own, well thought out meta description is one of the ways that you can encourage people to click your link, and we should be doing every time we can.
Google says “The more information you give us, the better your search result snippet can be”.
These are the words relevant to that search. If your descriptions are not relevant, Google will search your page for a description that better suits your site and then that will be what visitors see in search results.
Why not make that decision yourself?
While not part of SEO per se, having well written meta descriptions encourages searchers to stop and click on your site.
As well, if you are ranked at the top of Page One in Google searches, you want to discourage people from searching further. The function of the meta description is to get a visitor to click your link.
According to Google, “accurate meta descriptions can help improve your click through”.
7 Tips For Writing The Best Meta Descriptions
Google will highlight certain words when your post goes live. For a more detailed explanation, I will refer you to Google.
1.Edit your snippet before you hit publish
If you are using Yoast SEO with WordPress, just scroll down below your post BEFORE you publish and edit the snippet. This also applies to the All-In-One SEO plugin.
The field is blank until you publish. You can edit this after publishing but if Google chooses your snippet for you, it may not change on the search page. I can edit my snippet from my main list of posts in the dashboard.
2.Include clearly tagged facts in the description.
This does not have to be in sentence format. If you are selling something, you can include the price, manufacturer, or any details relevant to the searcher. Use an “active” voice and action oriented language for call-to-action copy. “Find out More”, “Learn more now” “Today Only”.
3.Your snippet should match the content
Do not write descriptions that trick visitors into clicking, which encourages bounce rate.
Also, if you have more than one page with the same type of information use a different description for each page, making them unique from each other. Make sure that it is specific and relevant.
4.Provide a benefit or solution (a reason for someone to click through)
Tell searchers of the benefits that you provide or why they should read your post, in clear language.
5.Do not include double quotation marks or any non-alphanumeric characters in your description.
Google may think that the start of the quote is actually the end of the tag and cut it off right there!
There are HTML entities (special characters) that can be used, but it is simpler to just not do it.
6.Note that sometimes Google will just go ahead and not use your description.
They may feel that your description does not match the content of the page, or it identifies a snippet from your page that matches a search query better.
As you continue blogging, you will understand better what it is that Google needs to accept your snippet over Googles.
7.Do not stuff keywords into the meta description!!
The days of stuffing keywords to get a better ranking are long gone. Now keyword stuffing can cause a penalty from Google.
You can certainly use a focus keyword so that Google will be inclined to highlight it in search results. And you can use synonyms as well, and you should 🙂
9 Tips For Improving Your Snippets
The meta description show up in search engine result pages, but you can also see them in the top of your web browser, and in social networks. Keep this in mind as you write, so that you get the most use out of your snippet.
- Every page should have a specified title tag. If you are using WordPress with an SEO plugin, you should check to see if the title is accurate.
In Yoast SEO, this is referred to as the Open Graph Title.
The snippet is referred to as the Open Graph Description, so look for similar wording within your plugins editing area.
2. Titles should be descriptive and concise. Avoid overly long titles which will likely get cut off in search results. If you do not choose an accurate title, Google can choose to show a different title.
3. An optimal format is Primary Keyword first, Secondary Keyword next, (pipe/vertical line character) and then Brand Name. You get 50 to 60 characters so use them to summarize your content. Some characters take up more space than others, like uppercase W, compared to uppercase I.
4. Do not use vague titles that do not give people searching enough information, or the search engine robots.
For example a vague title would be “Birds”, whereas a good title would be “Parakeets and their needs”.
5. Capitalize the first letter of each word in the post title: Parakeets And Their Needs.
6. Do not use all caps. It is hard to read, and it is like someone screaming at you. #bad
7. Limit the use of punctuation.
Save all of your character space for compelling call to actions.
8. Write for people searching on the internet. Consider that there are thousands of people from all walks of life, age groups, and demographics that do not use your level of jargon.
9. Do not over stuff the title with keywords. It just does not work for ranking, and it is irritating to read.
Ok, now you are armed with the information that you need to create your own meta descriptions for all of your future blog posts!
Be sure to sign up for my weekly newsletter and grab the password for my Resource Library. In it you will find a swipe file for my post 101 Blog Post Titles That Really Work. Use this swipe file to improve the copy that you write for your meta descriptions.
Also be sure to grab my Google Analtyics cheat sheet. #win-win
I hope that I have given you some helpful ideas for improving or creating your meta descriptions and titles. Any thing that we can do to help Google recognize our quality content is a good thing…am i right?
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