Your web content (website, blog post, whatever) is like your house. The search link to your content is like the door to your house. So, if the search link to your content is the door, then the meta description is the welcome mat. The meta description can either welcome visitors to come on in, or it can send them down the street to keep on knockin’, and in the world of SEO you want everyone knocking at your door.
You’ve spent a great deal of time creating content to share, but it still doesn’t mean it’s going to be seen. You’ve constructed the SEO options in your link’s favor. The link may even be at the top of the search engine’s page (like a bright red door), but it still doesn’t guarantee a click through. You know what does? A captivating meta description. It doesn’t matter if you’re link is the first listed, if you have a crappy meta description chances are the viewer is going to keep scrolling.
What exactly is a meta description?
Meta is a Greek preposition and prefix meaning after and beyond. Therefore, a meta description completes the description of your content. The meta description is the sentences placed below the link on a search engine page that describes the linked content to the viewer. That’s why it’s critical to have an enticing meta description that is inviting. Think of the meta description as the recruiter for a job. A recruiter gets candidates interested in positions they didn’t even know existed. Similar to how a meta description gets readers interested in content they’ve never seen before. Overall, the meta description recruits the searcher to it’s website.
According to Receptional.com, on Google search results pages:
• The first link receives 53% of clicks.
• The second link receives 15% of clicks.
• The third link receives 9% of clicks.
As you can see, the percentage of click through rates drop significantly as you go further down the search engine results page. This makes it even more important to have the best meta description ever if your link is further down the page! If you’re lucky enough to have a top three link, you better back up the top spot with a winning meta description. It’s pretty simple.
Making a Meta Description That Increases Traffic to Your Website
So often we see meta descriptions that are just the beginning copy of the website or article that is being linked to. Although some beginnings of articles are intriguing, you can’t rely on just that. Some of my blog posts have started with “According to _______, ??% of _______ is _______.” Okay, not the most enticing beginning, but starting out with a stat works well for an article. However, for a meta description? OH NO! Would you click through to an article on a SERP if it started with “according to”? Probably not.
Therefore, creating a captivating meta description is like writing a great sales pitch. To make sure you get the most out of your meta, we’ve determined the 4 Cs of a successful meta description. Follow this guide to ensure your meta description has a call-to-action that is clear, concise and captivating, and you will increase the traffic to your website.
Begin with a verb like “discover” or “learn”. Everyone knows that great call-to-action copy does exactly what it says… it calls its reader to perform an action. Make sure it’s a beneficial action, like “learn”, that entices the searcher to click through. For example, what would you be more likely to click through to:
• Find out how to…
• Learn how to…
Hopefully you agree that “learn” is a much stronger CTA word than “find”. Yes finding something is great, but how does it benefit you? Learning something is much more powerful. Keep this in mind when selecting the action word to begin with. Examine the verb, and ask yourself is there a better word I can use that will illustrate a stronger benefit?
Follow up the benefiting action verb with an even further benefit for clicking through. Hey! It isn’t called a meta (beyond) description for nothing! Make sure you’re going above and beyond in providing a benefit to your reader. Put yourself in their seat, and ask what would make you click through? Ultimately, give the prospective viewer a good reason why!
Be crystal clear with your beneficial meta description. How many times have you clicked through to a website you thought would be something completely different, and instantly clicked back? It happens all the time! You may get people to your page, but you want to keep them. Sure a meta description welcomes visitors through the door to your content, but if a visitor feels like he or she has been duped you’re going to damage the credibility of your site and entire brand.
Keep your meta description under 155 characters. Thank goodness for Twitter, because tweeting has taught many of us to write a bit more concisely. You’ve got a little more to work with than the 140 character requirement of Twitter, but still use it wisely! Why 155 characters? Well, Google actually measures by pixels, but this article from HubSpot has determined 155 characters is just about right.
Create a captivating meta description by being unique. Don’t settle for a standard description, and use illustrative words. Determine your target audience for the website, blog post or whatever content you want them to click through to. What words appeal to them? How can you grab their attention? Connect with your prospective viewers in a way that makes them feel like you’re speaking specifically to them.
Use keywords that you think your target audience would use when searching. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and ask a few friends or coworkers what key words they would use if they were searching for the subject of your content. It’s comparable to how I decide which hashtags to use for Instagram posts. I actually go on to Instagram and search keywords under hashtags to see which ones have been used most. There have been times where I thought I had a great hashtag, but found it had only been used a few thousand times instead of a similar one which was used millions of times. Although it’s great to ask yourself, like I mentioned before, it’s even better to ask others.
Now That You’re a Pro…
Remember that a meta description is the welcome mat to your website! A meta description shouldn’t just be the first few sentences of your website copy or article. What works for the beginning of an article does NOT work for a captivating meta description. Follow the 4 Cs listed above and you’ll be sure to increase the traffic to your website and content.
Check out what we use here at Red Branch Media for our blog: WordPress SEO by Yoast. It’s a quick and easy way to edit each meta description for your blog posts! We love this SEO tool, and we hope it can help you too.
Share with us in the comments your experience with meta description writing or tweet us @RedBranch!