The lasting importance of Meta Descriptions & how to engage your readers with them
During the early stages of negotiations with our clients, when we’re hashing out the KPIs and working out what steps need to be taken on the road to reputation enhancement, meta descriptions are almost always neglected until we intervene and impress their enduring importance to SEO even in 2014.
Sure, covert keyword meta-tags – concealed bits of code stuffed with keywords by pioneering SEOs practically guaranteeing higher rankings – have long been snuffed out by Google’s algorithmic evolution; Yes, Google continually insists that meta description does not influence a site’s search ranking.
However, meta content does improve click-through rates, as it is the 2 lines your potential siter-user will skim-read on a SERP to see whether your site is relevant to their query. If your page is at the top end of search results, and a user likes what they see, then they will proceed onto your site. Conversely, if your site is at the bottom of the first SERP, or even the second or third, then your meta could aid disillusioned web-surfers in solving their query, and clicking through to your site.
Click-through rate is definitely a metric used in Google’s ranking system as, along with bounce rate, it is a direct reflection of a user’s engagement with content pointing to the relevancy and quality of a site’s material. User engagement is held in the highest regard by search engines and positive correlation between this factor and your site’s traffic will organically result in your site’s increased ranking.
So, albeit indirectly, meta content can influence your site’s rankings and those two lines under your URL in a search engine can be a deciding factor in reeling a user in or seeing them hooked by one of your competitors instead – to discount it as valueless to SEO would be rash.
However, optimisation techniques aren’t the best way of writing meta descriptions – top quality composition requires no small amount of proficiency and attention to detail. Here are some top tips on how to write captivating meta description.
Offer browsers solutions
Your site’s meta description is the only text that you can be sure anyone finding your site through a search engine will ingest. As such, don’t beat around the bush – preview your site’s content in concise fashion whilst implying why it is relevant to them, for example if you’re selling pet supplies/accessories, something like ‘Discover a variety of pet essentials ranging from health products to pet beds for the dutiful owner with free delivery’.
This providers a browser with a clear idea of your product range whilst impressing on them their sense of duty to their pet and enticing them with a cash-saving delivery option – providing a host of solutions in one sentence and calling them to action.
Relevancy and Distinctiveness
It is one thing to write a meta description of what your site offers in an implicitly persuasive tone, but in order to place yourself above your competitors you must analyse your competition’s meta and assess how your leading rival’s meta differs from your worse performing competitors. Use these insights to inform your own judgements regarding your meta.
Also, keep your content relevant to your subject. Spamming your meta descriptions with sloppily, ungrammatically coherent keyword phrases, will lead to you losing credibility from both search engines and your audience; your bounce rate will hit the roof. Instead, focus on instructive keywords which induce your users to click-through.
Keep copy terse and waffle free – 156 characters or less
Whilst copy in the meta description ought to always paint a picture to the reader of what the site has in store for them, don’t mince words – each term ought to have a specific part to play in informing the user, calling them to action or another constructive purpose.
Keeping your copy under 156 characters is a solid way of ensuring Google’s pixel-metric doesn’t cut off the end of your content, adversely affecting your marketing message.
Meta descriptions ought to be viewed as your chance to ‘close’ a user and thus, a promotional, succinctly put message inviting them into your site is invaluable. Sure it won’t directly affect your ranking, but its impact on click-through rates cannot be ignored and an engaging meta description can be the difference between you and your rivals.
Clarity, quality and user-friendliness of content is one of our golden rules – and this applies to meta descriptions also – don’t pass up potential product exposure due to not following these guidelines, or worse yet, not having a meta description all together.