Winning Meta Descriptions For Optimal Results!

How do you get your pages and blog articles to stand out from the pack in the search engine results pages (SERPs)? One of the ways is to encourage users to click on your page over the competition is with the use of descriptive and engaging meta descriptions. Meta descriptions are brief snippets that appear directly under the title and link in the search results.

Since Google generally allows about 155–165 characters (Google uses proportional fonts, so there is no exact character limit) including spaces to convince users to click on your link over another link, you need to use those characters wisely. Recent data suggests that a mean of 155 characters is a reasonable approximation.

Google will sometimes add the date to an article, which reduces the number of available characters. Google also changes the length every now and then, so 155 characters, more or less, is the magic number for “now” and most likely subject to change.

Below are a few pointers on how to create winning meta descriptions for optimal results:

1). Create a “Customized” Description

If you do not create a customized meta description, Google will create one for you. Typically, a snippet will be generated using the first couple of sentences on your webpage or it will appear as text cobbled together and truncated that relates to the search query that was used.

If you want more control over what is displayed in the SERPS, then definitely take the time to write your own compelling and keyword targeted meta description.

Below is an example of a Google-generated snippet which comprises the first couple of sentence of the page – Search query:  “real estate in Chandler AZ”:

Chandler Homes for Sale and Chandler Real Estate | Long Realty, a …
Chandler Real Estate Overview Maricopa. Chandler is located in Arizona. Chandler, Arizona has a population of 260,828. The median household income in …

Below is a customized meta description for the same search query “real estate in Chandler AZ”:

Chandler, AZ Real Estate & Homes for Sale | Redfin › Arizona › Maricopa County
Instantly search and view photos of all homes for sale in Chandler, AZ now. Chandler, AZ real estate listings updated every 15 to 30 minutes!

The example above includes action words and is much more compelling than the first snippet generated by Google:

2). Think Conversion Over Ranking  

How to Create Winning Meta Descriptions for optimal resultsAlthough Google states that meta descriptions are no longer a ranking factor, a well-executed meta description can impact a page’s click-through-rate (CTR).

Google uses click-through-rate as an indicator as to whether or not you’re a good result even though they don’t use it in their ranking algorithm.

Meta descriptions should be thought of more as conversion factor rather than a ranking factor.

3). Accurately Describe the Page

Wherever possible, create descriptions that accurately describe the specific webpage. Use site-level descriptions on the main home page or other aggregation pages and create page-level descriptions everywhere else.

Creating misleading descriptions that have nothing to do with the actual page for the purpose of tricking users to click on your link is not a good idea.

When users click on the link and realize they’ve been duped by ‘false advertising,’ it can negatively impact your bounce rate, which is a definite ranking factor.

Google may even penalize the site for meta description trickery. A short, to-the-point meta description describing exactly what’s on the page is optimal.

4). Include the Most Important Keyword

You want to include the most important focus keyword used within the content of the webpage in the meta description as search engines will most likely show the meta description in search results when the searched-for phrase is included in the description.

 Use the Most Important keyword

That being said, the description should be written for human users and include action language that encourages taking action. Avoid creating descriptions that are stuffed with search terms as they can appear spammy and will not be as effective for eliciting a click-through.

Below is an example of a meta description written for humans that also includes the main focus keyword phrase within the webpage content – “real estate listings in Ahwatukee”:

Real Estate Listings in Ahwatukee
Explore the MLS for real estate listings in Ahwatukee. View avail properties, photos, market info. Call the #1 REALTOR in Ahwatukee – Cathy Carter! 480-459-8488

5). Match the Description to the Search Term

Search engines will bold keywords in the description when they match search queries, which helps your link stand out in the SERPs. Hence the reason why you should match your descriptions to search terms as closely as possible.

When I write blog post or page, I typically focus on two to three search terms/keyword phrases  – tops, depending on the length of the page and I also make sure that I include the most important keyword in the page title and meta description.  

6). Avoid Duplicate or Similar Descriptions

Avoid Duplicate or Similar Meta DescriptionsAdding Identical or similar meta descriptions on every page of a site aren’t helpful when individual pages appear in the search results. Instead, create unique and compelling descriptions for each and every page on your site.

Use site-level descriptions on the main home page or other aggregation pages and use page-level descriptions on all other pages.

You are better off leaving the description blank and letting Google generate a snippet containing the search term used in the query than to use duplicate descriptions.  

Adding Meta Descriptions to Your Pages and Posts

If you are a WordPress user, meta descriptions can be easily added to your pages and posts by simply installing an SEO plugin such as All in One SEO Pack or Yoast.

Once installed, every page and post will have a field for creating a meta description and other SEO information. Other platforms may also have on-page SEO options built in.  

I hope this article helps to shed a little light on how to create winning meta descriptions that will improve your click-through-rate and drive home maximum results!

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