When it comes to optimizing website content, there’s typically a lot of talk about the importance of choosing the right keywords and drafting compelling headlines – but the impact of meta descriptions on a website’s on-page SEO too often goes overlooked.
While you may think you have ticked all the boxes to boost visibility of your ecommerce site, the absence of an accurate meta description might just be costing you traffic and sales.
So, what are meta descriptions? They are short, unique snippets that describe a webpage. Think of what you would write if you had to advertise the webpage – that is exactly what meta descriptions need to include.
Many people tend to leave meta descriptions blank without realizing the effect it has on search results. A powerful meta description leads to a rise in click-through-rates which boosts the SEO ranking of your page. Simply put, they form the first impression of your website, so you rather make it a good one.
Here are 6 ways you can optimize meta descriptions to ensure clicks.
Whether it’s seeking the nearest plumbing services or discovering the best hotels in Maldives – everyone on Google has come looking for answers to a problem.
Put yourself in a customer’s shoes and think about what they could possibly ask to which your business can pose a solution. Your meta description needs to answer their question and impart value to entice them to click on your website.
While the meta description length has been extended up to 300 characters in order to make them more “descriptive”, it is always safe to stick to 160 characters so that the description does not appear abrupt and incomplete which can be rather frustrating for readers.
Let’s face it – emotion sells. Whether it is arousing urgency, anger, joy, trust, curiosity – any piece of content that evokes emotion is likely to be more effective in persuading readers to act. The same needs to be applied while drafting meta descriptions too.
You need to identify the emotional benefits a customer will attain by considering your brand and leverage it to drive traffic. Use words such as ‘attractive’, ‘enormous’, ‘powerful’, ‘unparalleled’ among others to strike a chord with your readers in just those two to three lines.
Use calls to action
Calls to action (CTAs) are powerful words that one must incorporate in the meta description because they communicate a clear purpose and urge readers to take a step forward.
However, this is not the place to use obvious calls to action such as ‘read more’ or ‘shop now’. Instead, you should use words like ‘save more’, state an offer or a tangible benefit such as free delivery or a free 30-day trial in the meta description to make better use of this space.
Choosing relevant keywords is one of the most critical steps for SEO optimization. That said, stuffing your content with these keywords won’t fetch you results. What’s important is strategically placing them in sections that can make a difference such as the meta description.
When Google displays search results, the search words are displayed in bold and it helps to have them highlighted in your website’s meta description tag which indicates relevancy and catches the reader’s attention too.
You are likely to have many keyword suggestions from research. In such cases, prioritize the keyword that has maximum impact for the particular webpage and use it in the meta description instead of fitting them all in 160 characters.
Each of the pages of your website are unique so why must they have the same description? If more than one page of your website shares the same description, then they are competing with each other because it means that they are talking about the same thing. This results in Google pushing your website lower down the rank.
So, don’t get lazy here and duplicate meta description content because that just gives the wrong signals to Google, deeming them to be spammy or repeated content which can hurt your search results.
Use rich snippets
Have you noticed some meta descriptions contain links, reviews, ratings and video images among others? Those are referred to as rich snippets. Contrary to normal snippets, rich snippets include structured data to give more detailed information to the search engine, helping people make a better decision before clicking websites.
Rich snippets give users quicker access to information through their visually appealing formats, images and relevant information that ultimate enhance click-through-rates. So, whether it is adding a contact number, product reviews and ratings or direct links – consider incorporating rich snippets in your meta description for it to stand out and attract clicks.
Hence, even though meta descriptions don’t directly affect page rankings, it is recommended to optimize them to drive clicks and generate traffic. If you are unsure how you meta description will appear, you can use this free tool to do a quick test before going live.
Adela Belin is the Head of Digital Marketing at Writers Per Hour. She creates content surrounding marketing with a focus on social media and digital marketing.