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How To Write Meta Descriptions And Why It's Important

how to write meta descriptions

Optimize meta descriptions for SEO. Craft concise, compelling summaries incorporating relevant keywords. Using engaging meta descriptions improves click-through rates and search result visibility.

Home / Blogs / How To Write Meta Descriptions And Why It’s Important
Raghav Tayal

Head Of Operations - Digital Web Solutions

February 10, 2024

Completing a highly informative, well-researched, and incredibly detailed blog post is not the end of the process. A lot more needs to be done to ensure your website ranks higher on search engines. Meta descriptions are tiny yet powerful pieces of information that act as a quick trailer into what your web page is about and work towards captivating the interest of your potential customers.

They are incredibly important if you are looking to rank higher on the search engine results page. However, the simplicity of meta descriptions can be tricky if you are not familiar with how meta descriptions actually work, how you should write them, and mistakes to avoid at all costs. Here is everything you need to know about crafting the perfect meta descriptions.

What Is A Meta Description?

Meta description tags are HTML code elements that are used to provide a short, crisp, and concise summary of what a web page is about. They can appear as search engine snippets under the web page’s URL and title on the search engine results page.

In case your web page lacks a meta description, Google can automatically generate one based on the search query and the content on the page; whichever version best addresses the user query shows up. Usually, the response to the search intent gets highlighted in the meta description as it appears on the page.

Why Are Meta Descriptions Important For SEO?

Meta descriptions are incredibly important for SEO, even if they are not a direct ranking factor. Search engines use a good meta description as a snippet to show (and understand for itself) what the web page is about, increasing organic traffic and conversion potential to your website.

Writing a clear and informative meta description will ensure higher click-through rates and improved brand awareness, which are the main objectives of an SEO strategy. Additionally, if your meta description fits the kind of search query being made, Google will bold the relevant text.

It eventually adds to the credibility of your brand. Writing meta descriptions with care is crucial to ensuring your brand voice remains intact and that you are always in control.

Do You Need To Write Meta Descriptions On Every Page?

Writing meta descriptions for every page on your website is a good idea to ensure uniqueness; however, it is not mandatory to do so. Google might not always use the meta descriptions that you are providing. It often uses the page’s content to auto-generate snippets to meet the user query.

That means if Google finds that the HTML meta description you have added is not adequate enough, it will rewrite it to provide enough information. Regardless of this, providing meta descriptions of your own is an effective way to control the narrative of your web pages.

Notably, setting a meta description for individual pages can be a time-consuming process, especially if you are in a hurry to launch your website. In such cases, it is always advised to pay more attention to key product pages, service pages, or even landing pages that are of higher preference for ranking.

In case you do not wish for Google to show a snippet that is auto-generated, you can consider using “nosnippet” for the meta description tag. It will inform (and instruct) Google not to display any previews (image or text) for the selected page on the search engine results page.

How To Write Effective Meta Descriptions That Impact SEO

Writing an effective meta description is no rocket science. All that it requires is a firm understanding of what the page’s content is about and conveying information in an attractive, informative, and benefit-oriented form.

Here’s everything you need to know about writing meta descriptions to attract more organic traffic and woo your customers:

1. Add your target keyword while staying within the character limit

Consider performing keyword research to understand the range of keywords you are going to use in the meta description.

As the meta description gives constructive and valuable insight into what to expect from the page, it is best to keep it specific, sufficiently descriptive, under 155-160 characters, and engaging. A boring, overly-long meta description will only confuse your readers and will less likely tempt them to click.

When choosing keywords for your meta description, make sure to select a focus keyword that matches the page’s content and search intent. The second keyword (also known as the secondary keyword) will make your meta description more attractive to readers. If the meta description ends up exceeding the recommended limit of 155-160 characters, Google will cut it out to fit while displaying your web page.

2. Offer what your reader is looking for

Understanding the search intent (what your target audience is looking for) and curating content to meet their needs are the best ways to write great meta descriptions. By following this approach, your meta descriptions will be to the point, offer the required information, and be sufficiently descriptive.

Here 5 ways you can identify user intent in SEO and implement them into your meta descriptions:

  • Search with the target keyword on Google
  • Study the types of results that show up
  • Identify their offerings, benefits, and any additional information that you could be missing out on.
  • Analyze search modifiers to determine what your target audience is looking for.
  • Identify and analyze the content type, content format, and content angle your competitors are using.

By carefully analyzing and studying these factors, you will be able to identify the search intent and accordingly curate the meta descriptions that instantly strike a chord with your audience. Do not hesitate to experiment and be creative with your meta tags.

3. Tempt with a lucrative call to action

Call-to-action buttons or CTAs prompt your target audience to take action once they have found satisfactory results from their search. Consider using CTAs like “discover,” “find out,” “get it now,” or “start your ” are tempting and action-oriented. On the other hand, CTAs “click here” or “learn more” are non-descriptive and barely talk about the benefits or create a sense of urgency.

Here’s an example of how a CTA can change the face of your meta description:

Without a CTA: Premium, hand-plucked range of tea leaves available on our website. Every purchase gets a complimentary tea diffuser.

With a CTA: Shop at XYZ for a premium, hand-plucked range of tea leaves. Get a FREE tea diffuser with every purchase. Limited period offer. Hurry!

Adding a CTA makes it easier to understand the offer at hand and what action needs to be taken. It further makes your meta description more click-worthy.

4. Focus on writing a unique meta description

Writing unique meta descriptions for every indexable page lets you control the narrative and brand perception. By providing your own meta description, you are making what the web page is about clear. If the meta description contains vital information that matches a search query, Google will likely bold these pieces of information to attract the attention of users and make them click.

Duplicate meta descriptions do not add any valuable information. They are redundant and can have a negative impact on your brand’s reputation. Additionally, they can confuse search engine bots and readers as it won’t be clear what the page is going to be about and what to expect.

In case you are running low on time but have too many pages to write meta descriptions for, prioritize pages that have a higher chance of ranking on SERP and slowly continue to cover the rest of the pages.

5. Talk about important product information

When writing a product page, including crucial information about the product is paramount to ensuring your target audience clicks to know more about the benefits, features, and key upgrades. People are always actively looking for a product or service online with the intention of making a purchase.

A sufficiently descriptive and informative meta description will simplify their search and make it possible for users to decide if they are interested in the product page or want to search more.

Regardless of the range of products your website offers, if technical details are not mentioned, there’s a high probability that your ideal customer will assume that your brand has yet to offer the features and benefits they are expecting. This can lead to losses in traffic and can create a negative impact on brand image.

Here are 4 things to mention in your meta descriptions for product pages:

  • The product’s complete name and any model number that’s associated with it.
  • The features and benefits that make the product stand out from others in the market.
  • The availability of the product (if it’s on sale, mention so in the meta description) and shipping information (free shipping, 2-day delivery, or any other particulars).
  • The price of the product and if there are discounts applicable. If your business offers student discounts, do mention it.

What To Avoid When Writing HTML Meta Descriptions

Writing meta descriptions that are engaging and detail-oriented ensures you are able to capture the attention of your users immediately. However, there are still a plethora of things that you must take care of (avoid altogether, in fact) when writing meta descriptions. Here are some to know about:

1. Avoid writing monotonous meta descriptions

A monotonous meta description can show a lack of interest in the subject you are dealing with. On the other hand, a smartly written meta description that communicates benefits, key points, or features that a page has to offer is more attractive and can positively impact your brand image. One of the best ways to ensure you are writing engaging meta tags is to take the search intent into account.

Think like your target audience, what they are looking for, and if your content aligns with their needs. Additionally, make sure that your target keywords do not come across as spammy; otherwise, your target audience will not bother clicking on your web page.

Try to match related search results by offering better information. As Google and other search engines bold content relevant to the search query, by doing so, it is more likely that your content can show up in the snippets search engine results page.

2. Do not use double quotation marks in your meta descriptions

Using a double quotation (“ ”) mark within the meta description, HTML markup indicates to Google that the meta description can be truncated. Due to this, the snippet in SERPs will get cut short, and the user might not be able to gauge if the web page offers the kind of information they are looking for. It is always best to avoid using non-alphanumeric characters in your meta descriptions to ensure Google displays them.

3. Do not duplicate meta descriptions even if the pages are identical in nature

There’s a chance you might think using the same meta description for identical pages will do no harm, as these pages are nearly the same and only have minor differences. However, this is not the case. Even if web pages are identical in nature, they must have different meta descriptions to ensure accurate information is communicated to search engines and your viewers.

Additionally, using the same meta descriptions will make it challenging to leverage the SEO benefits, resulting in your website losing out on potential chances of ranking higher on search engines. It is always best to craft unique, engaging, and informative meta descriptions using keywords that strike a chord.

Why Does Google Resort To Writing Its Own Meta Descriptions?

Google’s advanced algorithms aim at answering a search query in the best possible way. There will be times when the meta description you have provided might not show up if Google thinks it doesn’t answer the search query well enough. The search engine is constantly trying to provide factually accurate or compelling responses to the searches that are being made.

In the event that it rewrites the meta description for your page, it is most likely that Google picked information from your web page that it found to be more precise. Many businesses find this frustrating (and why not? After all, resources and time were spent in writing unique meta descriptions).

However, the search engine is always focused on delivering responses that are satisfactory, even if it involves overruling your meta description and rewriting one that matches the search query the best. Notably, Google rewrites up to 70% of meta descriptions to fit the search query made.

Here are 9 ways to ensure your meta descriptions are shown:

  • Keep the length of your meta descriptions under 160 characters.
  • Do not use non-alphanumeric characters.
  • Add most pieces of information in the first 100 characters.
  • Avoid keyword stuffing.
  • Write unique meta descriptions for every page.
  • Optimize for desktop and mobile devices.
  • Use a call to action button.
  • Give more importance to providing information, benefits, and offers.
  • Regularly update your meta descriptions based on SERP analysis.

Note: Even if you are following them all, there’s still a chance Google will choose to rewrite its own meta description to suit the search query. These 9 ways will only ensure that your meta descriptions are top-notch and can attract organic traffic easily.

Can I rely on using meta description generators?

Meta description generators may seem like an ideal solution when it comes to writing meta descriptions for hundreds of pages. They can auto-generate with a single input, are easy to use, save time and effort & are incredibly flexible. However, they can also generate redundant meta descriptions that will potentially dampen your SEO efforts.

Additionally, these generators end up duplicating the same content by reshuffling words. It significantly impacts readability and will look spammy on the website. This further becomes complicated when identical pages are involved.

Furthermore, these generators do not give any insights into how the meta descriptions will be perceived by your target audience and always have concerns regarding the quality associated with them. Another blaring issue with these generators is that they end up adding keywords on their own (even if they are not relevant), resulting in keyword-stuffed meta descriptions.

Meta Description Examples To Learn From

Here are some examples of how meta descriptions can make it easier for your target audience to find what they are looking for. The key element of these descriptions is how they effectively capture the attention by delivering or promising a lifetime of experience.

Furthermore, these descriptions are detail-oriented and mostly have a CTA to encourage their target audiences to click through the link, learn more about the product, and make a purchase as well! Let’s dive in and understand why these meta descriptions are working wonders.

Homepage

Why does the Lonely Planet meta description work?

The meta description instantly catches attention, starting with a catchy question phrase that transitions into providing a solution. The meta description also talks about the brand’s other range of services.

Why does the Samsung meta description work?

The meta description starts with the element of intrigue about gadgets and appliances that the brand has to offer. It then tempts the viewer to explore its popular range of trending products.

Product page

Why does the Lenovo meta description work?

The meta description talks about features of the products available, the key features, and tempts with a free shipping offer. Furthermore, the meta tag also has an available range of laptop links displayed to encourage the viewer to check the available products in the Yoga line.

Why does the Apple meta description work?

The meta description instantly catches the attention with a trade-in offer and low monthly payments at 0% APR. This makes it possible for potential buyers to calculate how much it can cost to upgrade to the latest iPhone.

Category pages

Why does the Senbird Tea meta description work?

Senbird Tea, with its meta description, captures the attention of tea enthusiasts and encourages them to explore the art of green tea brewing in traditional style. Their call to action further entices readers to try their blends, teapots, and more to experience the ‘perfect pour’ at least once in their lifetime. It perfectly balances the delicate scale of tea culture by mixing it with intrigue and luxury.

Why does Target’s meta description work?

Most people opt to visit Target for their furniture shopping because they feel the store offers value to their purchases. Their meta description does the same by clearly offering low prices, same-day delivery or pick-up benefits, and a free shipping option over a certain bill amount.

Bottomline

Meta descriptions are important because they let your brand decide on the narrative it wants for individual web pages. They are essential HTML elements that can attract your target audience to your website by showing them the information they are interested in.

However, no matter how good your meta descriptions are, Google may still rewrite them to meet a visitor’s search intent. Nonetheless, it is always in your best interest to write meta descriptions that offer value, clearly state the benefits, are sufficiently informative, and are easy to read.

To ensure your meta descriptions are great, avoid keyword stuffing, using duplicate meta descriptions for identical pages, and not doing adequate SERP analysis to understand what your target audience is looking for.

If you are still struggling to write a meta description that makes your target audience want to click through immediately, feel free to get in touch with us. Our team will be more than happy to make your website rank higher on search engines.

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