How To Write Compelling SEO Meta Descriptions
Meta descriptions are small snippets of HTML text that are displayed on SERP pages underneath the website link. They are primarily used for summarizing the content of the page, like a bit of preview.
Let’s look at our meta description, for example, highlighted in yellow.
Meta descriptions have an allowable maximum of 160 characters in length, so they tend to be written concisely.
Do Meta Descriptions Affect SEO?
How meta descriptions affect SEO is complicated:
In terms of overall page performance, yes, they do affect SEO.
Meta descriptions do not rank your page higher using Google’s algorithms.
In 2009, Google developers explained that “Google doesn’t use the “keywords” meta tag in our web search ranking”
The reason for this came down to abuse via keyword stuffing, “Because the keywords meta tag was so often abused, many years ago, Google began disregarding the keywords meta tag.”
However, this does not mean that meta descriptions do not affect SEO at all.
Meta descriptions that are written compellingly give searchers an easier time understanding what a page has to offer before clicking. Under this, meta descriptions improve SEO by improving CTR, and increasing organic traffic.
This is especially true for blog writing, as readers appreciate a brief snippet of information to determine whether the information is relevant to them or not.
How Meta Descriptions Help SEO
Meta tags can increase ranking through CTR and organic traffic
Just because meta descriptions don’t specifically increase ranking opportunities does not mean that you should avoid implementing keywords while writing them.
Google will still bold relevant words in the meta description, making them stand out to searchers. The latter image shows an example of this, with the term Smartwebpros being bolded in the meta description.
This boosts CTR, or ‘click-through rate’ by appearing relevant to the searcher, thus increasing the chances they will click the link. The more organic traffic comes to your website, the better your ranking will be.
In other words, meta descriptions do help your website rank in a roundabout way.
Meta tags Show up When Articles are Shared on Social Media
A less known meta tag aspect is that they show up by default when an article or page is shared on social media. This is more important than you may think in the long term.
Without a set meta description, social media sites will fill in the preview text with whatever is available. This would be the first few sentences of the page or article in most cases. That being said, an intro text from the report may not make sense as a short snippet, thus looking unattractive to searchers.
Preemptively writing a meta description allows you to control this so that in the event an article is shared, it appears professional in the confinement of the 160 character limit.
How to Write Meta Descriptions
Writing a good meta description requires conciseness and copywriting experience
Keywords help by appearing important as bolded words; however, there is no reason for the consumer to click. Writing meta tags like ad copy creates this need.
Within the 160 character limit, you should try to create a sense of urgency that grabs the searcher on a personal level.
Appeal to the reader’s emotions using words
Every person has wants and desires to fulfil, which is what Google meets by providing the most relevant information.
Knowing this, creating an emotional appeal in your meta tag will attract more visitors who are searching for something particular.
The easiest way is to explain how your product or page holds the key to a personal want.
For example, people who want to lose weight have a particular issue they want to solve. Describing how your product or service has information that can ‘make you look thinner’ will grab attention at this deep level.
Using fear to attract a reader is often used
HP Lovecraft once said, “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown”
This is especially true when it comes to writing compelling ad copy. People go on Google to search for answers; the implication is that they are ignorant of what they are searching for.
Yet, it could be that you offer a particular service for a problem for which someone needs help. So, by mentioning the potential problem, you gain attention and make the searcher trust your content more.
An example would be information on ‘strange smells coming from a furnace.’
The smell of rotten eggs and sulphur indicates a gas leak, leading to an explosion. This kind of factual information grabs attention while not being manipulative.
Explain the benefits to the reader using concise words
Instead of resorting to grandstanding and explaining how fantastic something is, it is better to reveal subtle benefits.
This includes how a problem or chore can be made more accessible or how a user can reduce a cost.
In essence, you are providing quality-of-life and economic benefits.
What Not to Do When Writing Meta Descriptions
Do not spam keywords or do keyword stuffing. Spamming keywords incites two detrimental consequences to your ranking.
Keyword stuffing, or language that sounds very spammy, is a huge red flag in Google’s book. If Google thinks you are keyword stuffing, then they will blacklist your content as untrustworthy.
The second detrimental effect is that spamming keywords in an uncreative manner will create duplicate content.
Duplicate content occurs when a meta description features the exact keywords as others, which of course, does not help with ranking at all. Ranking higher requires delivering creative, informative content that makes you stand out from the crowd.
“Do Not Use Double Quotation Marks”
Using double quotation marks within a meta description will make your text invisible to Google. In the HTML code.
For more information on how you can improving your SEO efforts, visit our SEO Blog Writing Guide.