How to Write Meta Descriptions the Right Way

Staff Writer
Last Updated
February 9, 2024
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Crafting the perfect meta description for your web page is a great way to stand out from your competition by catching users’ attention and interest early on, but there are a lot of things that you have to keep in mind to create the perfect one.

What is a Meta Description?

A meta description is a short paragraph that appears below a website’s title in the search engine results pages, and it’s meant to provide users with a summary, description, or snippet of what the page contains, as well as what they can expect to find from the page’s content, which can help stoke users’ interest and bring in organic traffic and clicks.

This is aided by the fact that some search engines emphasize terms that appear on both the search query and your meta description by bolding them. Aside from this, it’s also one of the many elements that search engine algorithms inspect to better understand the content of your webpage, which can also affect your search engine rankings based on how relevant it is to the search query.

How to Write a Meta Description?

To create a good meta description that will help increase the organic traffic that your website receives, here are some good tips to keep in mind:

Never Leave It Blank

While it’s not required to create a meta description, it’s definitely heavily encouraged as this will help bring much more attention to your website. Meta descriptions allow you to control how your website appears to users at first glance, which can be the deciding factor of whether they click your link or not. 

Putting yourself in the shoes of a user browsing through the internet for some skincare product, which website are you more likely to click on?

  • Example 1: “Unlock radiant and healthy skin today by exploring our range of premium dermatologist-tested skin care products for every skin type and concern.” 
  • Example 2: “Founded in 1989 in Paris, France by dermatologist Dr. Michelle H. Stevens, XYZ is a premium skincare brand that aims to give its customers high quality….”

You might be confused as to what happened to the second option. When you don’t include a meta description, search engines like Google will simply put the first few sentences of your first paragraph in its place. This can look unprofessional, while also failing to showcase what your website has to offer. Meta descriptions allow you to control how your website appears to users at first glance, which can be the deciding factor of whether they click your link or not.

Keep It Short and Sweet

If you’ve ever glanced at a random search engine result’s meta description, you’ll notice that you don’t have a lot of room—or word count—to work with. This is why it’s important to keep it concise, but still informative enough to describe an overview of your content. You can also communicate why your page may be helpful to the reader. 

Meta descriptions are often a few sentences long, or more specifically, contain around 140 to 160 characters, including spaces. The last thing you want is to make a description that exceeds this limit and leaves users hanging as this can easily lose their interest, pushing them towards the next result on the page.

To give you an idea of what this tip really means, let’s take a look at two meta description examples:

  • Example 1: "Shop stylish and affordable fashion for every occasion. Discover the latest trends in clothing, accessories, and more. Elevate your wardrobe today!"
  • Example 2: “Welcome to our online store, where you can find a wide selection of various fashion items, including clothing, accessories, and more. Our collection..."

While both examples show online shopping websites with crafted meta descriptions, the first one stays within the character limit and can therefore showcase all the offerings of the store. On the other hand, the second example—while having a meta description—exceeded the character count and was consequently cut off mid-sentence. As discussed in the previous tip, unfinished sentences can seem unprofessional and increase the chances of users disregarding your site.

Answer the User’s Question

Another great tip when writing meta descriptions is to put yourself in the mindset of your target reader and try to anticipate a question they may have regarding a certain topic. If a user is searching for something online, chances are that they’re trying to find the answer to a question that they have. This is something that you can use and leverage to create an appealing meta description that catches their eye. 

When writing your meta description, try to think about the questions that the user may have when searching for the topic of your content before making a meta description that both answers the question and covers the rest of your page’s content.

Picture a user trying to figure out the best camera for photography. Which meta description do you think is most likely to draw them in?:

  • Example 1: "Find the right camera for your photography needs. Our guide recommends top-rated DSLRs, mirrorless, and compact options to help you capture precious moments."
  • Example 2: "Explore a wide range of electronic gadgets, from smartphones to smartwatches. Stay connected and enhance your digital lifestyle with our cutting-edge products."

The question swirling around the user’s mind is all about which camera is right for their specific needs. The first example is a great meta description to attract this particular user as it clearly offers a wide range of camera options for various situations, whereas the second example is not only vague but also doesn’t address the user’s specific query about camera recommendations.

Anticipate a Challenge or Problem

Another way to bring readers to your website is by imagining a problem that they may be experiencing and mentioning a list of solutions. Aside from hopping on the internet to answer a question, users also search online in hopes of finding a solution to their issues or challenges. 

When writing a meta description with this tip, it’s important to remember that you’re selling your content to the readers. Tell them what problem your content solves, as well as the number of ways that this can be done according to your page.

Here’s a good example to see just what this tip is all about:

  • Example 1: "Struggling with productivity? Explore these productivity strategies and hacks to overcome challenges, boost efficiency, and reclaim control over your day."
  • Example 2: “Discover a variety of lifestyle content on our website, from fitness tips to travel stories. Dive into the world of wellness and adventure with our engaging articles and videos.”

The first example specifically speaks to users who are struggling with their productivity and motivation, which can attract these readers and increase the likelihood of them clicking on the website. On the other hand, the second example is generic enough that it doesn’t really anticipate or address any challenges or problems. This can weaken the appeal of your website by making users think that you don’t really have any useful content to offer them.

Don’t Stuff Too Many Keywords

While it can help to incorporate a few keywords into your meta description, be careful not to overdo this too much as this can make your meta description sound stiff and stilted, which can lend the impression of unprofessionalism and unreliability. Take a look at the following examples to better understand the importance of this tip:

  • Example 1: "Immerse yourself in a culinary journey with our easy recipes. From savory dinners to delectable desserts, our collection offers dishes for every palate."
  • Example 2: "Best recipes, savory dinners, delectable desserts, diverse dishes, home cooking, easy recipes. Find the best recipes for savory dinners and delectable desserts."

Compared to the first example, the second example focused too much on using as many keywords as possible at the expense of the overall tone of the meta description.

Remember that sounding natural and conversational is still one of the most important things, regardless of whether you’re looking to leverage search engine algorithms to reap a better ranking. Above all, your meta description should make sense to your readers, or else they might just completely ignore your website.

Add a Call to Action

With the limited number of characters that a meta description allows, there’s no time for you to ease into anything—just get straight to the point. Many meta descriptions start with a call to action because it creates a sense of urgency or empowerment in users to click on your website and keep on reading. There are many call-to-actions that you can choose from, but make sure that you pick something that aligns with the context of your webpage.

Take a look at these examples and try to decide which one sounds much better:

  • Example 1: “Transform your fitness journey with our personalized workout plans, expert guidance, and tailored routines. Start your fitness transformation today!"
  • Example 2: “Explore different fitness resources, including workout plans, nutrition tips, and wellness articles. We offer valuable information to support your health.”

Notice how the first example sounds more inviting than the second one, which is informative but lacks a direct call to action. Aside from describing the content to be found on your site, having a strong and confident call to action in your meta description is much more likely to invite users to your website.

Make It Interesting and Unique

While the small space below your website on results pages might be small, there’s definitely still some space for a little bit of creativity. Meta descriptions that are fun, creative, and unique are more likely to draw readers into your website as they help your page stand out from all the others. 

Compare these two examples and try to imagine which one you’re more likely to click on:

  • Example 1: “Dive into your next adventure and browse our curated online collection of books. Start a new chapter with us—where every book is a journey waiting to be taken."
  • Example 2: “Visit our online store for the best selection of books and novels. Shop now for great deals and discounts.”

The first meta description example has a call to action that is unique and interesting as it connects itself to the theme of exploring books and starting a new reading experience. Compared to this, the second one is very bland and lacks uniqueness by simply urging customers to shop without even offering a good reason or incentive.

It’s also best to not simply copy and paste the same meta description template across all your pages because this can signal to search engine algorithms that your content is poorly made and low quality, which can cause your rankings to drop significantly.

The Takeaway

Just like meta titles, meta descriptions are meant to give online users a little teaser and preview of what’s in store for them should they choose to click on your website, while also helping search engine algorithms figure out what’s in your webpage to rank it accordingly on results pages for the related search queries. 

Many factors need to be considered when writing the perfect meta description for your website, but you can save yourself all the hard work by reaching out to an agency that specializes in technical SEO.

If you want every page of your website audited for an optimized meta description, then use our top SEO service here at Cardinal Digital today!

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