Writing Effective Meta Descriptions

The meta description is the ~160 character snippet that summarizes a post’s content and it is written in HTML. In other words, YOUR advertising copy! So let us look at best practices for…

Writing Effective Meta Descriptions

The meta description appears underneath the clickable links in the search engine results page (SERP). If you are not putting some work into your meta descriptions, you may be missing out on new traffic.

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 clickthrough”.

Writing Effective Meta Descriptions
PIN IT!! Writing Effective Meta Descriptions

How to write effective meta descriptions

  1. If you are using wordpress and the All-In-One SEO, just scroll down below your post BEFORE you publish and write the description. 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. It 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. This is why we choose niches like we do, to provide an answer to someone’s search. 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.
  7. Do not stuff keywords into the meta description!! No one wants to see it, and you do not want to appear spammy to 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 πŸ™‚

Here are some pointers for effective meta titles

Meta titles not only show up in search engine result pages, but you can also see them in the top of your web browser, and in social networks.

  1. Make sure every page has a specified title tag. If you are using wordpress with the All-In-One SEO, you can scroll down below your post before you publish it and check to see if the title is accurate.
  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. Use initial caps throughout the title: Parakeets And Their Needs.
  6. Do not use all caps. It is hard to read, and seriously, no one wants to read all caps!
  7. Limit the use of punctuation.
  8. Write for people searching on the internet, and consider that there are thousands of people from all walks of life, age groups, and demographics so do not use a lot of jargon if you are trying to attract new visitors.
  9. Do not overstuff the title with keywords. Overstuffing is bad, very bad. Google may rewrite your title as a result. You do not want that, so save yourself the trouble.

Ok, now you are armed with the information that you need to create your own meta descriptions for all of your future blog posts!

Related Post: Top 9 SEO Tips

Related Post: Top 3 SEO Mistakes and One bonus tip that you must avoid!

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?

Happy Blogging and follow me on Pinterest!

-Irma πŸ™‚

Writing Effective Meta Descriptions

26 thoughts on “Writing Effective Meta Descriptions”

  1. Hi Irma, back again.
    I write meta descriptions now for every post and it starts to really make fun.
    I can also use the text when I post the same article in G+ or FB.
    Thanks once more, that was an important lesson.

    • Hi Stefan and thank you for visiting today!

      It was a lesson that I really needed to learn as well. And I agree, it is fun!

      Irma πŸ™‚

  2. Hi, Irma! Thanks for sharing this useful information! I don’t know why I somehow missed how important is meta descriptions, and I didn’t write them for many articles. Now I need to change it.
    Thanks again!

    • Hi Linda, and thank you for stopping by!

      Good luck with that! I know it took me a good hour to catch up all the meta that I had missed as well.

      Irma πŸ™‚

  3. Hi Irma
    thanks for reminding me. I understand this meta description is an important detail for good SEO results.
    First I was a bit lazy about this and also didn’t know much about the importance. Now I take the time to create a good meta, at least I try.
    thanks for sharing

    • Hi Stefan, and thank you for stopping by!

      Ditto! I did not understand either, but now I do!

      Irma πŸ™‚

  4. Useful article thanks Irma. Is the meta description in the SEO plugin field the same as the excerpt field? I’ve been creating an excerpt for each blog post but not putting anything in the SEO meta description field.

    • Hi Robert, and thank you for stopping by!

      You can totally use excerpts instead of meta descriptions.

      Irma πŸ™‚

  5. Awesome post on how to write effective meta descriptions!
    I have been blogging for several years but this is something that I actually struggled with, I think because I didn’t understand it properly!
    Your post not only fixes this problem for me, it also tells me exactly how I should be filling this out!
    Thank you! Great work πŸ™‚

    • Hello John, and thank you for stopping by, and your kind words πŸ™‚

      There are so many variables with proper SEO that it is nice to have something that WE can control! Now, it is second nature for me to just scroll down and write it in.

      Irma πŸ™‚

  6. Great content here, I am going to visit this site more often!

    • Thank you Stacie, and welcome back anytime!

      Irma πŸ™‚

  7. wow that’s was very helpful.i learned something new today and i will be using that for my site.
    thank you for the informative and well written article.

    • Hi Maya and thank you for stopping by!

      I am glad to be of help, as that is the goal of this website πŸ™‚

      Irma πŸ™‚

  8. Excellent post on writing meta description. Two points you made that are very important – (1) accurate description, description that isn’t clear = bad bounce rate, and (2) keyword stuffing in the description, comes across as spam and phony and in some ways can appear scammy to readers. One other point you make, that I like, remember your audience when writing meta description. I believe that will go along ways in reducing a bad bounce rate also, because you are reaching out to interested parties. They will click and stay. After reading this post, I think I can even write a meta description. Nice site also! Appreciate you.

    All the best to you,

    • Hi Don, and thank you for your comments!

      Yes, I did not do this in the beginning and had to go back to all my posts and fix things, so they will be my way.

      Irma πŸ™‚

  9. Hi, Irma. Is it really important about meta description? I never fill it every time I publish a post. I new in this kind of stuff. What does it mean with a primary and secondary keyword? It contains good information. Thanks for sharing

    • Hello and thank you for stopping by today!

      You do not have to worry about if you do not want to customize your meta description. Google will choose pertinent information from your post to put in your meta description. An example of primary keywords would be LAPTOPS/LAPTOP ACCESSORIES and the secondary keyword would be LAPTOP CHARGERS.

      Irma πŸ™‚

  10. I believe I already have all in one SEO installed but I haven’t got round to sorting out the meta descriptions yet but I always cringe when I see the default ones because I know my readers will see this.

    Thanks for putting this very helpful post together.

    • Hi Lawrence and thank you for stopping by today!

      Yes, I spent about 2 hours fixing my own. Time will tell if it helps the older posts! Now when I write my meta, I try to imagine myself as someone standing outside of my business trying to encourage people to come in and see what I have inside.

      Irma πŸ™‚

  11. wow this information is very helpful and I will be sure to implement what I have learned here.

  12. Writing meta descriptions for my blog is one of the hardest parts for me! I know it’s one of the first things people read and I find it hard to try and find a way to convince people to read my post. I knew some of these points like avoiding all caps and being concise. But I didn’t know about using the parentheses.

    • Hi Kelli, and thank you for dropping by!

      I would suggest that you think about what you are “selling” to a visitor that might cause them to click on your site and not another one. Tell them why they should pop by and have a look at what you have to offer.
      I had to go through all of my blog posts and update everything today. I kept a second window open so I could check on what my post said while I was editing my meta descriptions. A lot of work for me, but it is done now.

      Irma πŸ™‚

  13. This could have easily been called how to write meta descriptions. Very useful information and you used your own site in the screenshots. My question is where would I find this information if I was not using the same plugin as you?

    • Hi Eric, and thank you for visiting today.

      You pretty much need some kind of wordpress plugin to create your own meta description the easy way; without a plugin you must alter the code within wordpress itself, adding the title tag in the header.php file. There is coding involved, and you need to follow a specific set of instructions. Or you can let Google create the meta description after you publish your post, which may not be quite what you want, but it will be optimal.

      Generally, wordpress creates the meta title when you create a title for your blog post.

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