If you have ever used Google, you have read a Meta Tag Description.
These tiny ‘snippets’ of information are condensed stories that tell what your website page or blog post is about. They may be generated automatically by Google’s crawlers, or can be written manually by web owners.
But there is more to the story than meets the eye.
These snippets hold the key to increasing your Click-Through-Rate (CTR), so it’s your job to create killer descriptions.
Here’s what you need to know before you begin writing meta tag descriptions for your website, and how your small business website can benefit from them.
What is a Meta Tag Description?
Meta Descriptions are HTML lingo that deliver precise descriptions of the content on any and all web pages. Most often used for search engine result pages (SERPs), they deliver a simple preview or snippet of the page they are attached to.
Here, we see an example of a meta description for a search result about how to bake a potato. See how the description perfectly matches both the keywords used and the content on the page? That’s what Google likes to see, and what you need to emulate.
In HTML terms, meta tag descriptions are short paragraphs placed in the HTML code of a webpage to describe content to search engines.
Meta Tag Descriptions can also show up when folks share your articles on their websites and social media channels.
No matter if you have a WordPress website or a SquareSpace site, you need killer meta descriptions for every page on your website. You have complete control over what goes into those snippets of information, so leaving them to chance is the equivalent to shooting your foot.
A). Not something you want to do, and B). Easily avoidable.
What Your Meta Description Looks Like in HTML
Adding a meta description to the <head> section of your website’s HTML is what you want to do. In the most basic terms, it should go something like this:
<meta name=”description” content=”killer web page description>
Easy enough, right?
It can be even easier if you use plug-ins like Yoast. In most WordPress themes you have the option to preview an example of your meta description in terms of SERPs, but Yoast can provide an easier format to do it in.
Meta Descriptions vs. Meta Titles
Since we’ve already covered what a meta description is, let’s dive into what meta titles are and how they’re different from meta descriptions.
A meta tag, or title tag, is an HTML feature that tells search engines what the title of your web page is.
Title Tags also show up in SERPs along with your meta description. They are critical for usability, SEO, and of course social shares.
Each title tag should be a concise description of what’s on your web page. Not quite as long as your meta description, but equally important, your meta title will have a direct impact on your CTR.
From the example above, these are what a title tag are:
Preview your own title tag with this nifty SERP Preview Tool.
How to Write Killer Meta Descriptions & Title Tags
Now that you know what they are, the next step is to figure out how to write them.
These tiny snippets of information dictate who clicks on your links, and who doesn’t. What you say here can either motivate or bore.
To get noticed in all the right ways, here’s what you need to know about writing meta descriptions and title tags.
Four Things Every Meta Description & Title Should Include
Guidelines for writing meta descriptions are pretty straightforward. But ALL meta descriptions & Titles need these four things:
- Action Orientated Words
- Focused Keywords
- Matching Content
- Limited Character Count (No more than 155 characters!)
Action words and keywords are the lifeblood of your meta descriptions. While Google doesn’t factor in keywords for ranking your page (at one time marketers would stuff their descriptions with irrelevant keywords and Google quickly put a stop to it), it does help your audience understand what your page is about.
Use action words like:
- “Click here”
Encourage people to take action by clicking on your page link in SERPs. Of course, they have to be relevant to what your page is about.
In the example above, the first words are the verbs “bake” and “rub.” They’re action words, and also helpful to the person searching for information. That’s precisely what you want to do with your descriptions.
Also, be aware of your character count, otherwise you could end up having your content prematurely cut off.
For more information about how to write meta descriptions, Yoast has a beautiful article that outlines precisely what to include.
Why Should You Care About Meta Descriptions?
Your meta description have a direct influence on whether or not searchers click through toy our content. Descriptive, attractive, and motivational descriptions get higher click through rates. Coupled with on-point relevancy, your meta descriptions can lead the charge for quality traffic
Extra Resources to Make Sure Your Meta Descriptions Kill it On Search Engines
- Character Count Checker Lettercount
- Google’s official policy on Meta Descriptions
- Announcement about Keywords in Descriptions
If you still aren’t sure where to start with your meta descriptions or title tags, I can help.
As a freelance writer in Austin, Texas, I’ve helped countless folks churn out relevant meta descriptions that improve click-through-rates. Click here to get a FREE review of your meta descriptions and a chat session with yours truly!