Meta descriptions are an important part of on-page SEO. Well-written meta descriptions give users a quick summary of what your content is about. This gives you an edge in the SERPs, increasing click-throughs and conversions. The search engines do not use meta descriptions directly to rank pages, but they do consider click-through rates.
As short and simple as meta descriptions are, they still require thoughtfulness. Here are a few tips to help you write meta descriptions that encourage clicks and conversions.
Stick to 155 Characters or Less
General guidelines for meta descriptions are around 150-160 characters. I try to stick to 155 characters or less to ensure that nothing gets cut off in the SERP. It can be a challenge to stay within this character limit, but it can be done with a bit of thought and effort. I also recommend using a tool like SEOmofo that lets you preview what your description will look like.
Show What’s in it for the Reader
As readers skim through the SERPs, they look for pages that will deliver the best value for their time. Your meta description should tell users why they should visit your page and what information they can learn. If you’re not sure how enticing your description is, compare yours to your competitors and make changes from there.
Be Welcoming and Inviting
Remember, you are writing to real people and not the search engines. While it’s important to include keywords and a value proposition, your meta description can’t sound awkward. It must sound natural and inviting to the reader, much like a front door to your content. A poorly written meta description gives readers the impression that the rest of your content is like this, too.
Include a Call to Action
Think of your meta description as an ad in the SERPs. It requires a call to action to increase click throughs and instruct users of what to do next. The action words you choose will depend on what your content delivers to the reader. Examples include “download now”, “get your free trial” or “find out more”.
Test and Monitor
You must continually test and monitor your descriptions to ensure they are working for you. Start by running split tests to see which meta descriptions perform best. When you find what works, you may use the same variations of words to drive clicks on other pages. One word of caution: Avoid using the same meta descriptions for multiple pages. This could confuse users and make them think that your pages are not relevant.
Meta descriptions remain an important part of your on-page SEO strategy. Of course, they must be supported by solid content. If users click on your meta descriptions and are led to weak content, they’ll learn not to trust you very quickly.