Some SEO experts would argue that meta descriptions have lost their value to some search engine crawlers, mainly Google’s. However, if executed effectively, meta descriptions still play an important role in your site’s overall SEO value, particularly when it comes to generating click-throughs from search engines. But the question is how?
In this blog post, I’ll cover how exactly a meta description can provide value to your website and the most important elements for creating a perfect meta description.
How Does a Meta Description Benefit My Website?
One way to view a meta description is to picture it as advert text for organic search. When your advert ranks for a particular keyword in a search engine, the search engine will more than likely show the meta description, which serves as a brief summary describing what your page is about.
So when a searcher is looking for a PDF to Word converter, as in our search example above, they know right away that this particular page is offering what they're searching for PLUS a free converter. The trick is knowing how to create great meta descriptions that searchers and search engines alike favor.
So How Do You Create a Dragon Slayer of a Meta Description?
A dragon-slayer meta description is clear, concise, actionable and, most importantly, it accurately describes the page subject and content. The subject and content truly go hand in hand, and this can't be neglected.
Writing an amazing meta description gives you the unique opportunity to separate your website from your competition.
Creating the Perfect Meta Description: Think Like Massimo, not Like Pollock
When creating your meta description, you need to think like designer Massimo Vignelli (left), not like artist Jackson Pollock (right).
Both pieces of art of are undeniably beautiful. But in the world of SEO, the meta description requires a specific type of artist. It requires Massimo.
Massimo is known for his clear, concise design that's easily recognized by millions worldwide. In many ways, your meta descriptions should mimic Massimo design. Your meta description should be:
- Clear: Time and time again, heating mapping studies of the search engine results page show that searchers overwhelming tend to focus on left side of the page. Thus, you should keep the keyword or phrase as close to the front of your meta description as possible.
- Concise: The meta description should be no longer than 155 characters.
- Actionable: The meta description should use language that entices an audience to read. Use strong verbs and phrases such as “find out,” “discover,” and “understand” followed by text that highlights how the searcher will gain something from clicking on your website.
- Be honest: Don’t be a wine merchant! Make sure your page really is about whatever your meta description describes. If Google catches you creating deceptive meta descriptions just to increase your click-through rate, your website could be penalized and tossed into the great abyss, which is the same place a missing socks goes when you lose it in the dryer. This means your website will never be found again!
Creating a clear, concise, actionable, and honest meta description is truly an art form. And it's important to remember that presenting a great meta description can mean the difference between a searcher clicking on your website or your competition's.
For more on SEO, the most common SEO mistakes, and the most crucial elements of an SEO campaign, download our complimentary webinar replay The Truth About SEO.
All the best,
Daniel Pishock is a Senior SEO Strategist at Stream Companies, a Philadelphia-area advertising agency.