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Are you writing, optimizing, and placing custom meta descriptions on your site? Whether it’s a blog post or a page of your website, the meta description can make all the difference when your link is displayed in a SERP (search engine results page). If you want to generate optimal and valuable organic traffic, here is a breakdown of how meta descriptions work and how you can write ones that get attention.

What is a meta description?

Meta descriptions are the snippets of text that are displayed beneath links on a SERP (search engine results page). The purpose of this text is to describe the contents of the page, so the searcher can determine if it is what they might be looking for.

When the searcher searches for a specific term (keyword) and your page or blog post appears on the SERP, any words in your meta description that match that search term will be bold. This helps the searcher identify that your page or post is, in fact, relevant to their search, and to draw their attention so that they read the description and are convinced to click through to the page or post.

Meta descriptions are also important because they can affect your rank on those SERPs. In the same way that the description informs the searcher of what your page is about, it also informs Google of that same information. If Google can read and process the content of your meta description and determines that the content of your page or post is relevant and valuable, Google is more likely to rank your page well in relevant SERPs to provide searchers with the best results.

If you don’t create and place a meta description, Google will use text from the first paragraph of your page or post as the meta description. This doesn’t necessarily cause any harm, but if you aren’t creating custom meta descriptions, you are missing out on some valuable benefits and opportunities to increase interest, traffic, and conversions.

Think from the user’s perspective.

When writing your meta descriptions, you want to think from the perspective of your prospective user—the person performing the search query. You are writing the description to inform them of your content, and you want to appeal to them. When writing your meta descriptions, keep these three things in mind:

  • What are they searching for? Knowing what the searcher will be searching for will help you position your meta description to meet that need. If they’re asking a question, provide them with a valuable answer. If they’re searching for a specific product, show them the unique value yours offers. You want your meta description to be relevant to their search query, so consider common searches that might be performed in order to effectively meet those queries.
  • What will get their attention? Once you know what they’re searching for, think about how you can stand out amongst the other SERP results and get the searcher’s attention. What unique value can your page or blog post offer that your competitors can’t, or what vital information can you provide them better than another source? This snippet of text is your opportunity to draw them in and encourage them to click through.
  • What do they need to know? As we said before, a meta description informs the searcher of what your page or post contains, so consider what they need to know in order to determine that your post is relevant and valuable to their search.

When writing a meta description from your own perspective, it’s easy to just plainly describe the page or post, or to write it in terms your colleagues or industry experts would understand, but your searchers and potential consumers may not find that appealing or helpful. When you keep your user’s perspective in mind, you can write your meta descriptions in a way that captures their attention, is easy for them to understand without industry expertise, and shows value and relevance.

Don’t forget to optimize your meta description.

Lastly but most importantly, you want to make sure you optimize your meta descriptions with keywords. In the same way that you want to include keywords in your content so that they show up in relevant SERPs, you want to include those keywords in your meta descriptions to help with SERP ranking/placements. Include your focus keyword or search term in your meta description in a way that reads naturally to the searcher. Keep in mind that Google bolds those search terms in meta descriptions, so including these in your meta descriptions will help your pages or posts stand out on the SERPs.

Keep your meta descriptions clear and concise, though, and avoid over-stuffing. If you fill your meta description with keywords just to try to rank higher on the SERP, your reader may not understand your meta description or care to read it at all. (Plus, Google penalizes keyword stuffing, so overusing keywords in an attempt to rank higher is counterproductive and ineffective). If your ranking is high on the SERPs but your page or post doesn’t appear to be relevant or valuable to the searcher, they’re going to click through to a different page or post, causing you to miss out on a potential lead and conversion. Optimize your meta description with relevant keywords, but do so in a way that reads naturally and seamlessly to the searcher, and offers them value.

We can help you write powerful, effective meta descriptions.

If you want to improve your SEO and increase your organic traffic with optimized meta descriptions, contact us today. Our digital marketing experts will review your site and/or blog content, analyze your target audience and their search habits, and use data driven keyword research to write and place the most powerful, effective meta descriptions possible.