Before you hastily move on (meta descriptions, shmeta descriptions, I’ve got real things to worry about); note this.
If you have a website; you have meta-descriptions.
If you manage your own content, you manage your meta-descriptions.
There, so now we’ve established you’ve got them, let’s explore a little more.
So, what the devil are they?
They are the little snippets of information (155 characters to be precise) which sum up a web page and which appear in the search results of a search engine. They are a concise piece of sales copy about your product, company and services.
Why are they important?
There are three main reasons why they are important.
1. Because based on this snippet of information about your website that appears on a search engine listing, a potential customer may, or may not, progress to looking at your website. It’s an opportunity to entice a visitor in, which if not used, could be an opportunity missed. Not only that, but your potential customer may just go to the next website on the list (your competitor), based on their more effective meta-description.
2. The keywords used within the meta-description may impact on the web page’s SEO therefore your website’s ranking on search engines.
3. If you don’t write them, they’ll often default to the first few lines on a web page. Sometimes this might look okay, but often it will look like an unfinished statement or a line that doesn’t really work on its own, not therefore creating the best impression. Most importantly though, this line may not explain what the page or company does, which is most important purpose of the meta-description.
So how do you write them?
A meta-description should be a short, punchy, synopsis of what a visitor will find on any given page. What they’ll gain, access, learn or be able to buy. It should give them a very good reason why they should spend their precious time clicking onto this page. And you have but a moment to grab them.
Here’s my top tips on how to write an effective meta-description.
1. Use questions: ‘Wondering why you…’? ‘Are you struggling with…’? ‘Did you know….’? Using questions naturally evokes a response.
2. Offer a clear and enticing benefit; ‘discover the answers to’, ‘improve company sales by’, ‘improve your health when’; whatever is the strongest benefit you offer to customers/clients, ensure it comes across.
3. Include a call to action: ‘Click now to find out more’. ‘Click here to see our essential guide to…’. ‘[Company name] has the solution, find out more now.’ The more persuasive and obvious it is what the reader needs to do to find out more, the better.
4. Use the keywords that describe your products and services; ‘Struggling to keep on top-of book-keeping? Check out our online book-keeping tool we’ve developed for small businesses at xxx accountancy’. Keywords will help with SEO plus reinforce what you do, showing that your website is exactly what the reader is looking for. DON’T stuff with keywords though – make it read well so that people actually want to read it!
5. Check your word count before you publish to make sure you get your whole message in. Don’t leave the sentence hanging, it might finish in a place that means it doesn’t make sense or leaves out an important part of the message you want to get across.
6. Make it relevant and true. If you embellish to the point of misleading, the visitor will simply hit the back button in seconds, resulting in a high bounce rate for your site, and no benefit to you in terms of sales or lead generation.
7. If you’re really struggling and don’t have the time, skills and frankly interest in getting this done, it may be worth a paying for a couple of hours of a copywriter’s time.
Don’t underestimate the potential of these 155 characters to turn a dull listing into an enticing sales opportunity.
They are easy to improve. They don’t cost anything. And they might just bring you your next customer.