The Ultimate Guide to Writing Meta Descriptions
5 Meta Description Tips To Help Your Content Get the Clicks
Unlike their peers at other newspapers, USA Today reporters had to digest big news into just a few paragraphs. Many in the profession criticized USA Today articles for their brevity. But I think those critics missed the talent required to synthesize and write concise copy.
It’s a skill that content marketers can appreciate, especially now that every piece of digital content needs a meta description. Our task is even more difficult than the one USA Today journalists face. We must summarize the content – no matter how long it is – in 156 characters.
And meta descriptions can’t just be short – they also have to compel readers to action. They’re one of just two factors searchers use to decide if your content is worth their precious click. (The other is the title or headline).
Why are Meta Descriptions Important?
As a store owner, you’ll want to do everything in your power to get your products into the view of potential customers. Meta descriptions help you to raise your clickthrough rate from three main sources — search engine results, social media shares, and social bookmarks. In all three of these sources, a meta description can provide more information about the page, and help you to secure the attention of a reader.
Although search engines have confirmed that they don’t use meta descriptions in the ranking algorithm directly, Google does use a page’s CTR (Click Through Rate) to assess how well your webpage fits the search query. As meta descriptions really help you to increase the CTR of your web page, they’re a great way to increase your Google ranking.
When you have a higher ranking on Google, you’ll be getting more visitors. More visitors to your store means more potential customers, which means you’ve also got a higher chance of making sales. After all, there are over one billion monthly active users on Google!
Does Google Use Click-through Rate in Its Algorithm?
Google has hundreds, if not thousands, of factors within its ranking algorithm that it uses to determine where a website should rank. Google has repeatedly claimed that it does not use the click-through rate of a URL as part of the algorithm, nor does it use the words of the page title or meta description either.
These claims, although compelling in many cases, do not all correlate to an exact counterpoint that Google does use click-through rate in its algorithm. Instead, we at Exposure Ninja consider that Google is instead paying more attention to how well browsers respond to the content it ranks well.
For example, if a bad piece of content is ranked in the first position and Google determines (through a complicated level of computer engineering) that its search users do not like the content (for example, because it’s not providing value) and look for alternative pages instead, it will test another page and see how it performs until it finds the perfect match.
Way before this, of course, will be Google’s evaluation system of a page’s content — badly written, duplicate or plagiarised content shouldn’t make it to the top of Google in the first place (emphasis on “shouldn’t”).
Instead of focusing on how Google uses click-through rate or any other metric for ranking content, we recommend focusing primarily on creating the best content possible and making sure that your page titles and meta descriptions are equally as good.
How to Optimise Page Titles and Meta Descriptions
Before you learn how to abide by the best practices of writing new page titles and meta descriptions, we first want to highlight some additional metadata writing tips to keep in mind that will help separate your titles and descriptions from those of your competitors who follow the standard guidance in other “how to write page titles and meta description” guides.
Optimise for the SERPs’ Appearance
Google is continually trying to show the right SERP design for each search query, so if you write a page title or meta description that doesn’t match how Google is going to show the results, you’re helping your competitors by making their job of earning the click easier to do.
Optimise for Search Intent
Transactional searches are those you do when looking to make a direct purchase, try before you buy or hire something or someone briefly, such as a children’s entertainer.
If you’re not sure which types of words of intent your customers may be using, the following list covers many of the most commonly used words. Try matching them up with the keyword phrases you’re most concerned with ranking well in Google for, but also try questioning your current customers about the questions they had before purchasing your products or services.
Use Unique Selling Points (USPs)
Google’s Ads program works through a cycle of testing and improving. In well-established industries, it’s likely that companies have tested which USPs work best to earn a click for several years.
In the example below, there is a list of keywords that we may find useful for our own plumbing clients, some of which we may not have considered during our keyword research process. These include the following:
If companies are willing to spend money on those words and phrases, it’s safe to assume that they’re the right type of keywords for triggering a response from the searcher. This also suggests that they’re profit-generating keywords too.
Use Psychological Triggers
Using the right type of psychological phrasing in your metadata is another route to success. You only need to look at advertising to see that the right words in the right place can generate a sale.
You can communicate your messages in different ways, and there are several great studies and blog posts on the impact they have on CTRs. CoSchedule’s “How To Write A Call To Action In A Template With 6 Examples” explains how useful the process can be on a wider scale. One of the most useful posts of all is the “380 High Emotion Words Guaranteed to Make You More Persuasive” by the delightful Bushra of The Persuasion Revolution.