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Writing an effective Meta Description

When you’re writing a blog post, it’s important to spend some time thinking about your meta description, as this is your chance to advertise your article to potential readers. So what exactly is it? And how do you make the most of it? Here, I explain.

What’s a Meta Description?

A Meta Description (which is sometimes referred to as ‘Meta Data’ is that piece of text that comes up under a URL in Google’s search results. This piece of text should describe what the article is about.

What should your Meta Description contain?

Your Meta Description should contain the following:

1) A call to action

Use this space to tell the Google user what you want them to do. ‘Shop here’, ‘click here’ and ‘read more’ are all examples of calls to action. You should try to include one in your meta description.

2) Show your article’s value

The Google user will see your search result next to a series of others, so you want to tell them that yours is the result they should be clicking on. To do this, explain what value your article will add.

Where appropriate, try to include words such as ‘discover’, learn’, ‘find out’ and ‘see’. If those words and phrases aren’t appropriate, then try to think of another reason why somebody would get value from your article. Words such as ‘new’, ‘best’ and ‘deal’ often encourage people to click through.

3) Try to include your target keyword

If you’ve done your keyword research, then you’ll know what term you’re hoping to rank for in Google. Try to include this search term within your Meta Description. But make sure you’re natural about how you add it. If it looks like you’ve just stuffed it in there, then Google won’t look favourably upon your article.

4) As your potential reader a question

Consider putting a question within your Meta Description. The question you include should obviously be relevant to the article. So, for example, if I was writing a description for this piece, I might say: ‘want to write an compelling meta description?’

5) Make sure it’s unique

Your Meta Description should tell people exactly what the article contains. So make sure yours is unique. If every article has the same description, then you won’t be doing yourself any favours when it comes to click-through rates.

Does length matter?

Ideally your meta description will be around 160 characters long. You can add more words, but Google will just cut the description off.

Meta description example - when the length is over 160 characters

You should aim to use between 150 and 160 characters because why wouldn’t you make the most of the space you have to explain why somebody should click through and read your article? Make sure you write a description that contains 120 characters as a minimum.

If you have Yoast installed, then this plugin will guide you when it comes to the length. You’ll see a warning if your description is too short or too long.

Why should I spend time thinking about this?

If you don’t create a Meta Description, then Google will do the work for you, but you’ll have no control over what they decide to put. Instead of leaving things to chance, you should try to make this space work for you. By using the right language, you can help to boost your search click through rates.

I’d advise you to play around with this space. Try some different strategies and work out what works well for your site.

I always say that SEO is a series of little changes that can make a big difference. Taking charge of your Meta Description is one of them.

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