4 tips for writing effective meta descriptions

Written on 07 November, 2016 by Ben Pearce
Categories Search Engine Optimisation

A well-written meta description can increase your search listing's click-through rate and drive more traffic to your website without you having to pay for it.

The better your copy, the more clicks you'll receive. In this article, I will give you four tips for writing effective meta descriptions for your pages.

1. Copy from paid adverts

You can learn a lot from the top-ranking ads on Google and Bing. Both use complex algorithms which ensure only the best-converting ads are ranked first.

If you search for 'email systems for business', the following paid results are shown:

If I were to write a meta description for a page offering email systems, the term 'professional' seems to be effective and something I would place in my own meta description after doing research.

Reviewing paid ads will help you identify keywords that you can place to ensure your content is found by the right people.

2. Show but don't tell

People are using online search to find what they are looking for.

Your 160-character meta description needs to tell them you have the answer, leaving no room for ambiguity.

Here are two great examples of meta descriptions:

Use words like 'how-to' or 'x-step guide' as it quantifies what the user will learn by clicking on your listing. Providing instant gratification will drive more clicks.

3. Ignore the features, sell the benefits

A common theme in copywriting is to sell the benefits and ignore the features.

For example, do you know (or even care) what processor your mobile phone is using? Unless you're a tech geek, chances are you don't care, and if Apple spent hours talking about the microchips inside the iPhone during their next keynote, it would be a huge flop.

Consumers don't care about the features, they care about the benefit. They want to know that their battery will last 72 hours, that they can listen to music on the go and video call friends for free.

Here's Dulux stating their benefit in one of their meta descriptions:

Benefit: new-looking cabinets.

There is no mention of any of the features of their paint.

4. Use numbers

Numbers are great to use in titles and meta descriptions because they stand out and help quantify what the reader will learn. Searching for the term 'how to lose fat' on Google returns the following results:

Every listing starts with a number.

Your average search query will return text-only content and our eyes find it hard to focus on something. Numbers stick out like a sore thumb in a sea of words. Even if your search listing isn't the first listing, you can benefit from added clicks by using numbers.

Summary

To write effective meta descriptions you need to have a creative writer in your team who understands how consumers think.

You can track your click-through rate for each page through the Google Search Console. Implement our tips above and let us know by how much your traffic increases.

If you're looking to grow your SEO presence but aren't quite sure how, get in touch with us today to learn more.