Elements of Effective Meta Descriptions

meta descriptionLet’s face it, meta descriptions aren’t always a priority when it comes to SEO.
The main reason optimization of meta tags and descriptions are neglected is because it doesn’t  directly influence your search engine rankings – when it comes to Google’s search algorithm, anyways.

Optimizing your meta descriptions IS still important because it affects your clickthrough rate, not to mention it’s significance in appealing to potential customers. There’s no way you can avoid the fact that meta descriptions matter. Why else would there be a Diagnostics section of Webmaster Tools, where you can edit duplicate descriptions and tags? Google is doing you a favor by telling you, hey – you might want to take a look at these and fix it!

Here are a few things you should try to aim for when writing unique meta descriptions for the pages on your website:

  • Keep descriptions short. There is no “magic number” when it comes to the correct amount of of characters, although experts could argue endlessly about it. So, I like to keep it in the 150-160 character range. Short, sweet and to the point, please.
  • Spell check. I’ve seen and been put off by many meta descriptions with poor, incomplete sentences and even misspellings. Do you really want to lose customers this way?
  • Focus on one keyword. At most, I like to put one desired keyword with a second, slightly different variation in each meta description. There’s no use in overstuffing your description with different variations of the same word. Don’t get me started on intentional misspellings!
  • Include a call to action. “Visit our site for more information on..” “Call us to speak with..” “Follow us on Twitter @…” “Visit us at..” If you don’t know what you want your customers to do, how should they know? Do yourselves both a favor and give them a hint!

Finally, check out Google’s section and SEO Moz’s article on how to improve your meta descriptions and more.

Don’t Put All Your SEO Eggs in One Basket

We’ve all heard the idiom, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. Sure, you wouldn’t put your savings all into one investment, so the same principle should apply when it comes to your SEO strategy.

When people start learning about search engine optimization for their site, it’s easy to get blindfolded (so to speak) and focus too much on what the search engines see, and not what customers want to see. Google’s search algorithm is complicated and always changing, and there’s no one right way to “beat” it, so that you can come out #1 across the board.

I’ve seen many people and companies try put all their hope into ONE aspect of online marketing and being so upset when it doesn’t come out as planned. SEO is a great long term asset but there IS such a thing as going overboard in optimizing.

The same thing applies when it comes to meta descriptions and tags. Keyword research is important in helping you find and focus on the phrases that your customers are actually looking for. Instead, some people might skip this step and just throw in all the keyword and different variations that they can think of in hopes that ONE is a good one. SEO is not a random game of luck and using too many different keywords isn’t helpful.

Many think that SEO consists of two parts: one of research (science) and the other of customer appeal (art). Although search engines play a powerful part in your organic SEO rankings, you can’t forget about the human side of your businesses because customers are the ones who will ultimately make or break your success.