SEO

SEO Basics: The Truth About Writing Meta Descriptions (Should you bother?)

November 18, 2016
SEO Basics: The Truth About Writing Meta Descriptions for Blog Posts. Should You Bother?

I’m going to be honest with you guys… meta descriptions are my least favorite part of SEO.

If you do a lot of blogging, you might be able to relate.

They’re so short and should be pretty easy to write, but yet when I get to that part of the post, I get annoyed. Anyone else?

BUT it’s still an important part of blogging, and I’ll tell you why.

Plus, I’ll give you 7 tips to easily write killer meta descriptions and make it all a little less painful!

What’s a Meta Description?

A meta description tells the reader of a search engine results page (SERP) what a particular page/link is about. It’s the short block of text you see under a link in search results.

The search engine either pulls a string of text from the page that closely matches the user’s search terms, or will display what’s been provided in the code of the page.

However, the meta-description is NOT used in ranking.

Why You Still Need Meta Descriptions

If it isn’t used directly in ranking, why bother?

  • It’s your first touch point with readers through search engines.
  • It can be the make-or-break reason someone clicks on your link.
  • The related search term will be bold within the meta description, potentially catching a searcher’s attention.
  • The meta description is often pulled as the preview text for social media shares, like on LinkedIn and Facebook.

 

meta description example

Meta Description in Search

social media meta

How Meta Tags Show Up On Facebook

7 Tips to Write Effective Meta Descriptions

1 | Short and sweet.

Keep your meta descriptions short and to the point, at about 150 characters.

2 | Show the benefits.

What makes you click on a link while searching?

Spark curiosity, share the benefits of your post, or solve a problem.

Don’t deceive the searcher! Let them know what they can expect by clicking on your result.

3 | Be unique.

Each of your meta descriptions should be unique, so if you run a weekly series, do not copy and paste the same description.

4 | Include your focus keyword phrase.

While keywords in the meta description aren’t used to rank your post, they will be bold if they match the reader’s search query. They’ll help the searcher scan and verify that your link is relevant.

Here’s an example for the search “create gmail account for company:” gmail for work example

The meta description tells the searcher what they’ll get with a gmail for work account. Notice the words I’ve searched for are bold within the meta description.

5 | Tell the searcher what to do.

Tell the searcher what to do to get the solution they’re looking for. Use verbs to inspire action.

Words like discover, learn, save, grab, click, uncover, solve, etc. tell the reader what they can expect in a more action-oriented way.

6 | Target your ideal client.

Make sure your ideal client knows your post is written just for them. Include descriptive, relevant words that will stand out.

For example, if you work with female entrepreneurs specifically, include it!

7 | Check Google for inspiration.

Go straight to the source! Google your topic and see what’s showing up first in the results. Take note of how their meta descriptions are worded.

Still not sure? Here’s a list of 33 Examples from Econsultancy.com.

How to Enter a Meta Description in WordPress

I can’t tell you how to write a good meta description without telling you about a plugin to make it easier!

While there are a few great SEO plugins available for WordPress, I loooove Yoast SEO. It offers automated title tags and descriptions, or the option to customize them at the bottom of each blog post (which is what I do).

If you click “edit snippet” you can type your own, unique meta description super easily. It even shows you what the title tag and meta description will look like within search results, including your focus keyword being bold.

 


Want to expedite your blog rankings and traffic? Join my brand new, FREE 6-day Challenge

I’m hosting my very first online challenge and I’d love for you to join us.

SEO Made Simple Free Email Challenge to Boost Website Traffic

You Might Also Like

  • Alex March 20, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    Great post! Something I”m always confused about is whether or not the keyword you’re optimizing for in a post needs to appear in the meta description. The Yoast plugin likes it when you do – is this a must? Thanks for sharing all this info!

    • Dzeigler March 21, 2015 at 10:06 am

      Hi Alex! It’s not a “must” because it won’t be used for actual ranking, HOWEVER, the keyword might catch the eye of your reader. Does that clear it up? Thanks for stopping by!

      • Alex March 21, 2015 at 6:25 pm

        Makes sense 🙂 Happy I found your blog, thanks for the great content!

  • Erin @ Erin's Inside Job March 23, 2015 at 11:49 am

    Thanks Danielle! I get lazy and just have the same thing for the keyword and the meta description which is usually just the title of the post. I think I was always a little confused as to what exactly I was supposed to put there. I knew it should be longer, but that was it. Thanks for the clarification!