Master Your Meta Descriptions: The Basics

meta descriptions

Master Your Meta Descriptions: The Basics

What are meta descriptions?

Meta descriptions are the short text snippets beneath URLs on the search engine results page (SERP).

For example, here’s this page’s meta description:

Looking to master the art of writing meta descriptions? Our latest post will teach you the basics, covering everything from SEO to local search.

The main purpose of your meta description is to provide a short summary of a webpage’s content in 160 characters or less. Think of it as your elevator pitch for an individual webpage. If your title is the bait, your meta description as the hook that the reels users in.

How long should meta descriptions be?

We’re talking tweet length here. The descriptions aren’t required to be 160 characters, or any other length for that matter, but anything over that amount will usually result in the end of the text being truncated by the search engine.

Do meta descriptions impact SEO?

Yes and no. Google claims that meta descriptions have no direct influence on their search algorithms. However, Google considers several unique facets for their search rank algorithm, including a website’s click-through rate (CTR). The more users that click on the link, the better your CTR. The better your CTR, the higher you’ll show up in search results.

It pays to think of your meta description as ad copy for your web page. The more attractive and convincing a meta description is to the user, the more likely it is that the user will click the link from the SERP to visit the website. A well-written meta description is one of the best ways to set your site apart from the others around it on the SERP.

Writing meta descriptions for local pages

When writing the metadata description, it’s best to include something unique about the page, relevant wording, a call to action, and location information if relevant.

Remember, you’re not writing for a search algorithm, you’re writing for users who are browsing through the SERP. Each user is looking for the page that most accurately fulfills their needs or solves their problem. The writer’s job is to know the audience that the website attracts, and know what that audience wants when using the target keywords.

Be persuasive. Be useful. And do it in 160 characters or less. No pressure!

Writing meta descriptions for local search

Meta descriptions are particularly effective in local search because of a user’s local intentions. When a user is searching for something in a specific geographic region, there’s a good chance that they’re looking for a product or store to in that area.

Simply including the name of your area can help customers make a split-second decision to click on your page over the pages around it.

For example, Placeable is located in Denver’s RiNo District. For restaurants and stores in our area, including “RiNo” in their meta descriptions can help tip the local search odds in their favor.

Find out what anchors a location in an area—whether it’s inside a mall, in a specific neighborhood, or at an intersection—and use that in your meta description.

A final note

Remember to write for people, not algorithms. If you keep your user in focus, providing relevant information, and doing so in an appealing way, you’ll have come a long way toward mastering your meta description.

Ryan Reichl
rreichl@placeable.com
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