What’s the first thing you read when Google pulls up search engine result pages (SERPs)? OK, probably the title of the page. But what about the second thing? Is it that little snippet of information beneath the title? That’s called the meta description, and while tiny, it can attract or deter a website visitor in a split second.
Meta keywords aren’t worth your time. Any time you were spending on meta keywords should be devoted to creating enticing meta descriptions.
How To Write The Perfect Meta Description
First and foremost, we'll give you a more thorough definition of a meta description than we did above. Meta descriptions are HTML attributes that explain the content of a webpage.
The Google gods haven’t released their perfect formula for writing badass meta descriptions, and they probably never will. But here’s what we’ve discovered so far.
1. Keep Meta Descriptions Under 155 Characters:
In total, you have approximately 215 characters on a SERP to convince a reader to click on your site. No more than 155 of those characters should be used for your meta description. 155 characters may sound like a lot, but trust us, it’s not. Those characters go faster than the endless salad and breadsticks at Olive Garden. Ideally, your meta description should be between 115-145 characters, according to HubSpot.
While meta descriptions don’t affect search rankings, they do carry quite a bit weight conversion-wise. To get the highest click-through rate (CTR), make sure every character counts. Take the time to write a clear, compelling meta description and really think about what you want your message to convey.
2. Use Powerful Language:
Use strong words and CTA verbs in your descriptions, too. For example, for a Staff Page, a good meta description would be: Get to know the friendly faces at ROI Online. For a Services Page you could say: Find out how our digital marketing services can strengthen your online presence.
3. Be Honest:
Don’t mislead readers. Your meta description should concisely tease the page you are directing readers to. Lie to them, and they will hit the vanish from the page and never come back to your site. People don’t appreciate being lied to.
Keyword stuffing is also a big no-no. Do either, and expect readers and Google to blackball your site.
4. Be Concise:
You only have 155 characters so you can’t afford to add fluff to your meta description. Avoid industry jargon and fancy words. Keep it simple and clear so as not to deter visitors.
All of your website’s pages should have meta descriptions, especially the primary ones (e.g. homepage, about page, products/services pages). Even your blogs should have meta descriptions.
5. Don’t Forget To Write One:
This may seem like an obvious tip, but several websites fail to have meta descriptions for their pages. A blank meta description is almost as bad as a deceiving one. When a meta description is omitted, the search engine will grab content from the actual page. What’s wrong with that? For starters, it will most likely be too long. Secondly, it’s doubtful every piece of content on your page gives readers a straightforward summary of the page.
So Why Are Meta Keywords A Waste of Time?
Before we sign off, we’ll briefly explain why meta keyword tags are futile to your SEO efforts. Just like with keywords, people were stuffing their meta keywords. Search engines have officially declared meta keywords as spam. Need further proof? The Google God himself, Matt Cutts, in 2009 proclaimed the same: "Google doesn’t use the 'keywords' meta tag in our web search ranking."
In other words, forget meta keywords and focus your efforts on meta descriptions.