A complete content brief should include everything from the goal of the piece and its unique angle to the target keywords, internal links, and CTAs.
Content Marketing | Jan 26
Masooma Memon on December 9, 2020 (last modified on December 10, 2020) • 19 minute read
Looking to improve your SEO game by learning how to write keyword-rich and optimized meta snippets? You are in the right place since this guide is all about creating a click-worthy meta description, the ideal meta description length, meta description examples, and so much more that we’ve summed up below.
First things first though: what’s a meta description, again? It’s an approximate 160-character length summary of a page that often shows up in search results when it includes the keywords the searcher has entered in the search engine.
You can do a lot to write better meta descriptions. From making them actionable by adding a call to action to writing interesting summaries, let’s show you what you can do to get more clicks.
Search engines use meta descriptions to understand your page content. Often, Google pulls up this summary snippet and shows it in the search results.
Does that mean a keyword-enriched meta description is an important ranking factor you need to be concerned about? The answer to this isn’t so simple.
According to Google, “Even though we sometimes use the description meta tag for the snippets we show, we still don’t use the description meta tag in our ranking.”
Put simply, your go-to search engine, Google, tends to be picky when it comes to meta descriptions. It may or may not display the snippet in search results and according to the horse’s mouth: it definitely doesn’t use meta tags for ranking.
Wait, if meta descriptions aren’t a ranking factor, why are you still reading this? Let’s answer that next.
Since meta descriptions impact your click-through rates (CTR), they are still important for SEO.
Let me explain: most readers read a page’s summary, a.k.a. the meta description before clicking through (well, at least, it’s one of the things they look at. Don’t you?).
If you manage to convince your visitors to click to read your post, you’ll basically improve your click-through rate. This CTR, in turn, improves your SEO game.
What’s more, Google suggests you make sure that every page on your site has a meta description. In 2017, it also took the step to increase the meta description length, confirming Google values meta descriptions for giving searchers a clear idea of what a page is about.
This proves that a lot about SEO is about pleasing your readers, not the search engines. The more helpful your reader finds your meta description, headline title, and the rest of the shebang, the more your SEO will improve.
Hence, in a sense, your meta descriptions impact SEO. If not directly, then indirectly.
When thinking of improving your meta descriptions, keep the following two meta description tips front and center of your mind:
Let’s pull up some meta description examples to better understand what meta description tips work.
These SEO description examples make a few things clear right off the bat:
To this end, note that all the meta description examples are conversational, actionable, and promise the reader something.
This is so that your reader can get a glimpse of the value that your page will offer should they decide to click and read. See how each of the meta description examples is offering ways to use blogging for lead generation.
Your goal should be to meet the searcher’s intent. One way to do so is by adding relevant keywords. When I typed in ‘blogging for lead generation,’ the results page pulled up results that all included the keyword or its variation, therefore, confirming that the results provided what I’m looking for.
The meta keywords are also formatted in bold. That said, 67.4% of our contributors think that you should always add your primary keyword in the meta description:
So you’ve got the majority talking in favor of adding meta keywords.
Besides offering value to encourage clicks, you can also directly push people to do so. How? By providing a sum up of what the content is about and then writing a call to action such as ‘read more to learn X’ or ‘find out more about X.’ This makes your description actionable and click-worthy.
While writing lengthy meta descriptions is OK, they make zero sense since Google truncates the snippet according to the device your visitor is using. So, it helps to stay within 121-160 characters as our respondents suggest:
Go back to the meta description examples above to see how all SEO description examples are in active voice. But why active voice? Because it encourages people to take action. It also takes up lesser space (fewer words) than passive voice, which is dull, boring, and doesn’t inspire action.
Here’s an example:
✔ The Databox team created this guide to share meta description tips [active voice]
❌ This guide was created by the Databox team to share meta description tips [passive voice]
When working on improving your meta title and description, you can also “consult the meta descriptions for the main keyword of your article on the first page of Google before writing it,” suggests Darina Lynkova of extensionranking.com.
“That way you will get a very good idea of what people did right in order to get to the top.”
Want more meta description tips to get your summary right? Here are some informative nuggets from our experts:
Now, the details:
“Do something unique. Write something a bit crazy,” advises Purplegator’s Bob Bentz. “Since the meta description has no direct impact on your ranking (except for the impending click-through rate, of course), you need to do something to stand out from the other listings on the page.
Try writing an extra short one. Make a wild claim. Anything to make yourself stand out. Just remember to always include your keyword in the meta, use active (not passive) voice, and include a call to action. But, whatever you decide, don’t ‘set it and forget it.’ One thing that is never done in SEO is testing.”
This makes two meta description tips: providing insights + making the reader curious.
Kristian Borghesan from Savology opines, “To improve your meta descriptions, focus on providing some insight into the topic, while also leaving room for the curiosity which can even be achieved by asking a question. I’ve also found that including a call-to-action directly at the end provokes a good response, it can be as simple as ‘Find out the other three ways right now.’”
Speaking about making readers curious, Ekta Swarnkar of Tia Says notes, “A great meta description according to me is that one that generates curiosity in our reader to check out the post. Therefore, I always start it with a question and the second line is about the solution. A question works great if it is hitting the pain point of our reader.”
Hugo Guerreiro of Blog Biz Audit echoes the same: “Make the reader curious about the topic. You want them to click on your link and not your competition. You need to have a call to action to ensure your reader wants to click and know more about the subject.”
“My one tip is to write your meta description around your target keyword,” shares Nikola Roza of Nikola Roza- SEO for the Poor and Determined. “So, include a keyword, but not because you except a direct SEO boost, but because Google considers pages with keyword-rich meta descriptions more relevant to the query the user typed into search.
How do we know that? Because they bold the matching keywords inside meta descriptions to show the users which pages contain what they’re looking for. This is an easy hack and it works because Google as a machine is looking for the most relevant results to show to their users. And adding keywords in meta descriptions is an easy way to become more relevant.”
SimpleTexting’s Meghan Tocci’s tip is also based on meta keywords: “Ensure your meta description is focused on your primary keyword in a way that gives readers a preview of what they’re about to read.
Tocci’ continues, “Avoid keyword stuffing the description as Google tends to favor function over obvious SEO efforts. You can’t forget that meta descriptions are also a click-based tool to let readers know if their answers are in your article.”
Kristin Hope from Prismatic shares a tip that revolves around, “Latent semantic indexing!” Hope explains: “Pay attention to Google Autocomplete and LSI terms in search results for your keywords, and use them to craft the meta description of your content. This technique reflects back to users what they are actually searching for, and relevancy will increase CTRs.”
“Including the promise in a META description is a great way to improve CTR,” suggests Ben McLaughlan of Easy Mode Media.
“When a potential reader searches for a term, they want to know the article they click on answers their question. Including what a reader will learn or the problem that will be solved is a way to entice a higher CTR in your online marketing and SEO.”
This suggestion is a great hack than a meta description writing tip. It comes from Jordan Schneider of Soundstripe who elaborates, “Look at the ads appearing in Google Search for the page’s targeted keyword phrase.
Those ads are the most data-driven information you could ask for when it comes to what will perform with the highest CTR in your title tag and meta description, because you know the advertisers are testing it constantly, and the AdWords exchange is the only place ads with a decent click-through in those top positions. Adopt what you see as consistent in those ads, and you should see better CTR as a result.”
According to what Kent Lewis of Anvil Media has learned at Anvil, a meta description tag needs to be descriptive. Lewis insists, “We’ve found the best performing meta descriptions include a combination of descriptive adjectives & adverbs as well as a relevant call-to-action for that page. Meta descriptions should be customized for each page and elaborate on the title tag.”
This one’s a hat tip to Seobility’s Matthias Lugert and it explains how you can find the ideal meta description length.
Lugert shares, “Keep in mind that Google doesn’t count characters but pixels. Characters vary in width, pixels don’t. Hence, you should use handy (free) tools like the Seobility SERP Snippet Generator to optimize your snippets for the ideal length.
“Precisely emphasize the value,” recommends Rebeca Sena of GetSpace.digital. “Meta description has to concisely outline the value of the content behind it. It should specify what the reader will learn, be able to do, or find after following the link. It should not be too obvious or unspecific, thus it is best to avoid generic claims.
For instance, Sena explains, “Instead of calling interior design service simply the best, it’s better to specify that the office was awarded as number one practice in the city by a local decor journal. Rather than promising that an article is a must-read guide for architecture students, it is much better to specify that it consists of a salary survey and profiles top 10 employers.”
StableWP’s Jovana Jelenic adds to this: “To increase your organic CTR, ensure your meta descriptions are clear, concise and contain a strong benefit or takeaway. People generally scan SERPs so it helps for your meta description to get straight to the point. They should also pique users’ interest by explaining the value of your web page and why a user should click through.”
Editor’s note: Find out how much traffic is coming to your site via organic search with this Google Analytics Organic Traffic Dashboard Template. You can grab all essential metrics like organic users, organic sessions, organic page views, and more on one screen.
This is another important tip in our list of meta description tips. According to Jo McKee from McKee Creative, “As with writing headlines and CTAs, the meta description must perform the function of persuading the reader to want to read more.
So, we ensure our meta descriptions include specific, measurable info that highlights the benefit(s) for the reader and contains a hook.
Here is an example: “’Check out these three examples of how we used Messenger Marketing for three very different businesses [FREE Messenger template worth $500]”
Your meta title and description need to “leverage emotion,” Matt Press of Splash Copywriters advises. “Every piece of content should be designed with a specific target audience in mind. That audience will have specific wants, needs, problems, and desires.
Work out the search intent (why these people are looking for this content in the first place), then include a relevant hook in the description. Maybe you’re revealing a secret. Perhaps you’ve found some important research. It doesn’t matter – just frame the description in a tantalizing.”
Stewart Dunlop of LinkBuilder.io is of the same opinion: “The one tip I can’t stress enough is to make your metadata emotional and actionable. Use verbs related to your article that you know can compel your audience to click. We already know that humans are emotional beings, hence they easily respond to thoughts/words they can relate to.”
“If your page is answering a query, use the meta description to answer it – it might sound counterintuitive, but this will showcase your knowledge and the quality of your site, leading to higher click-throughs,” suggests Plume’s Kelly Newcomb. “Plus, as a bonus, Google will like that too, so you’ll be ranked higher.”
Borja Prieto of FROGED makes a similar meta description tip: ”Make it compelling. Create curiosity about the story behind that page but don’t actually tell the story. In other words: don’t directly answer the question behind the user intent, but make them want to click on your page to find out the answer.”
Want a noteworthy meta description example? Prieto’s got your back: “Example of a meta description of a SERP result with 53%: In this article, we offer you recommendations to face [insert pain point here] with clear steps to improve churn rate in your SaaS. <– we identify the potential how-to without actually mentioning the ‘what’”
Both your meta title and description need to be doing this.
Brian Meiggs of My Millennial Guide highlights, “Be specific when writing your meta description by working on satisfying the users’ intent. Being vague or using generalized terms will hurt your chance of viewership. Get into the meat of it and write a fleshed-out description that’s clear, informative, and satisfies their intent.”
Simple SEO Systems’ Ronit Levy is on the same page as Meiggs. Levy advises, “Clearly explain what problem your web page is going to solve and what’s in it for them. The closer it matches user intent, the more likely they are to click through.”
Lastly, TwinklHive’s Daniel Rawley echoes the same: “A good meta description doesn’t just tell the user how your page is relevant to their search, it shows them the value your content will provide. You need to read the intent behind the query.
For example, if someone has searched ‘money-saving tips’, your description should not only mention that your article contains 30 money-saving tips from financial experts, but also that these tips are all actionable changes that you can implement today regardless of your financial knowledge. This is the real intent behind the search: people want quick tips they can start using straight away. Demonstrating this clearly in your description increases the chances of your result getting the click.”
Put simply, “Try to tap into the thought sequences of the searcher (search intent) and what you want to stimulate in the mind of the viewer to encourage the click,” in the words of 1LG Digital’s Gail Kingswell Trueman.
Jonathan Roussel from TheChampLair shares their tip: “I personally use the APP technique: Agree, preview, promise. You want to concisely agree with the idea of your target user, promise them a solution to their problem, and give them a preview of what they can expect from the article.
Here’s a quick example if I were to write one for this blog post in less than 158 characters:
‘Writing an enticing meta description is hard. Find out how to write a great meta description to skyrocket your CTR, and discover our 9 expert tips to ultimately increase your traffic.’
‘Writing an enticing meta description is hard.’
‘Find out how to write a great meta description to skyrocket your CTR.’
‘and discover our 9 expert tips to ultimately increase your traffic.’”
“Treat your meta description like a shop window,” outlines Kev Strong of Media Works. “Why would a user visit your website over the other 9 in the Google search results? Add any USP [unique selling proposition] you have that will make them want to visit your website.
Things such as Free Delivery, Free 30 day returns, Klarna payments for fashion websites are essential. Things such as Nationwide delivery are huge USPs for service-based clients. Low-lead time for product creation is key for production companies like promotional print etc.”
Summing up, Freddie Lawson of Cornelia James says, “My top tip for writing a great meta description is to include all of your points of differentiation that separate you from the competition in a way that will make you stand out visually in the SERPs.
For example: ‘Free Shipping ✓ Free Repairs ✓ Lifetime Product Warranty Guarantee ✓’ at the end of your written copy.”
“One good tip to writing a great meta description is to include a call to action,” advises Gregory Reyes of Third Mile Service among several other contributors. “Click to learn more about the benefits of selling your house to a house buyer’ would be a great description that would allow for a better CTR,” Reyes suggests.
“The most important part of a great meta description is a strong call to action (CTA),” adds Perfect Search’s Kira Fahmy. “My formula for meta descriptions is: State the value + Strong CTA. Essentially, why did you write this content, or why does this page exist? Then, urge the reader to click through to read more.”
Josh Hummerston from Oak agrees, “It’s important to use language that encourages interaction; like open-ended questions or a strong CTA. These should (ideally) revolve around your keyword. Whilst many experts maintain that including the keyword within the meta description isn’t necessary, it’s still a great indication to readers that it’s an article that’s relevant and of interest to them.”
Summing up, Kevin Mercier of Kevmrc.com advises, “When writing a meta description, it is crucial to be compelling in your tone. Include a subtle, yet convincing CTA (Call to Action) when writing a meta description.”
Ricemedia’s Lee Savery adds to this list of meta description tips: “A meta description should summarize what is on the page while giving users a reason to click. For landing pages, give users a reason they need to buy the products/services on the page. For blogs, tease users with the information you have that they MUST HAVE.”
Lastly, as Derek Hines from West Coast Self-Storage suggests: keep A/B testing your meta description tag. “By using Google Search Console, you can see how one meta description performed vs another by comparing click-through rates,” Hines comments.
With these meta description tips, you’d be able to improve your page summaries in no time. Include your primary keyword, add a call to action, provide value, and don’t be afraid to be creative among other things. As for the ideal meta description length, It’s hard to get specific, but it helps to keep within 155-160 characters.
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