If you’re wondering how to write meta descriptions in 2018, you’re in the right place. It’s not too technical and doesn’t require any coding, so don’t worry if you’re a novice.
This article will show you everything you need to know to write meta descriptions. These descriptions get ranked on Google, but more importantly, this strategy will get your articles read. Here at Digital Cartel Media, we believe in creating content that will help the reader more than getting a high rank on Google.
A high ranking is important, but the real goal is to create brand loyalty and return readers. Knowing how to write meta descriptions is massively important, but very easy to learn. It will even have some examples of what you should do so you know that you’re in the right place.
What is The Purpose of Meta Descriptions?
The first part of understanding how to write meta descriptions comes from knowing exactly why you need to write them. In short, a meta description should entice people to click on the link of the article and read it. Without an actionable meta description, you leave your article in a vulnerable place of not being read.
A meta description is an extension of the SEO title of the article, which is the most important of the meta description. Just like the title of the article, the meta description should have the main keyword of the article in the description. I like to put it in the description two times and I like the keyword or phrase to explain the benefit of reading the article.
We’ll go over these concepts more in the next section, but for now, just know that it’s important enough to spend more than 5 minutes on it.
The Ultimate Checklist for How to Write Meta Descriptions
Make the Meta Description Benefit Oriented
If you’re thinking about how to write meta descriptions for your blog or website, keep in mind the benefits associated with reading the blog or using the product you sell.
What is a benefit anyways? First, I’ll tell you what it’s not… It’s not a faster modem, better connectivity, or faster communication. The benefit is the result of using the features. So, a faster modem gives you more time. Time is the benefit.
How your reader saves time by using your product is what you want to sell in your meta description. So, if you’re still wondering how to write meta descriptions, just lead with the benefits and you’ll do well.
Use the Keyword in Two Places
Spamming the keyword or phrase in the meta description is an easy way to get fewer clicks and de-ranked by Google. I use a system when I write my meta descriptions that work very well with such programs as Yoast SEO Premium.
Meta Descriptions Should Be 155 Characters or Less
Don’t be long-winded with your meta descriptions they have a character limit of 155 characters. Most of the time being long-winded in general is not a good thing, so keep it to a minimum.
Use a program like Yoast SEO. You’ll know exactly where you’re at when you write the description. If not, use Microsoft Word and get your character count before you load it to your website.
Use Active Voice
Considering the length limit of meta descriptions, being wordy is a bad way to start. When learning how to write meta descriptions, it’s far better right in the active voice over the passive voice.
If you just consider the character limit, active voice is shorter. However, active voice also comes off more authoritative, confident, and less wordy. When writing anything, it’s far better to write in the active voice to be more direct and strong. Being vague and sounding like you’re struggling to form a concise sentence needs to be avoided.
Being persuasive in 155 characters or less is a challenge. The good news is there are plenty of ways to practice this is your post on social media. Twitter is a phenomenal way to learn how to get people’s attention in 3 sentences or less.
Here’s my strategy for being persuasive with your meta descriptions. This strategy can also be used for social selling and cold emailing …
- Lead with the keyword or phrase and explain the problem in the first sentence.
- Build tension in the second sentence.
- Solve the problem (restate the keyword or phrase) or explain that the answer to the problem is in the article.
It’s really that simple and if you follow that specific formula, you’ll never have issues with your meta descriptions. However, if your headlines don’t work, the meta description won’t matter all that much.
Add Momentum and Create a Need to Click
An easy way to do that is to use verbs that end in “ing.” This may sound a little over the top, but it’s an old trick to create the feeling of anticipation.
A lot of great copywriters, like Bond Halbert and his father Gary Halbert (look them up if you don’t know them), will start to add words that end in “ing” from the middle to the end of their sales letters to enforce the tendency to feel like something is coming after they click. Try it for yourself.
Remove Words That Are Not Needed
How to write meta descriptions requires skills that most people don’t take the time to learn. Here is a quick writing crash course to revise your work…
- Remove the word “that” as much as possible.
- Ask the question “why?” after every sentence. If they don’t make sense, then remove them.
- Read your meta descriptions out loud. Every time you studder or lose flow, reword the sentences.
- Remove all sarcastic or clever comments.
- Be real and watch out for arrogance and offensive content.
You Should Use the Second Tense
Making the meta description more conversational by using the second tense is an easy way to target the article for a specific person. This is why I write all my blogs in the second tense, so you feel like I’m talking to you in a more intimate way.
If I were to write in the 3rd person to sound more “professional,” it would come off more isolated and less personalized. I prefer to have conversations instead of getting lectured and making sure that your readers feel at home is a big priority.
Remember the goal of the meta description, besides getting ranked by Google, is to persuade Google searches to read your article over all the other choices.
Relevancy Above All Else
If you’re not targeting your articles towards a specific audience in your headlines, meta descriptions, and content you’ll be running into many issues of getting traffic to your website. This means that the features and benefits you include in the description should hit the reader like a ton of bricks. It should pull their eyes with the gravity of the words.
Whatever relevant means to your audience you need to find it. There are tons of ways to figure that out, but Facebook Audience Insights and Google Trends are two of my favorite ways. Click on the link to understand how Facebook Audience Insights is the best free tool you’re not using to understand exactly who your audience is. Google Trends will also show you the temperature of your topic and give you plenty of keywords that people care about.
Focus on What is Working Already
Google searches are the best way to find ideas for a meta description. Just look at the articles that make it to the first page of Google for your specific keyword. Follow the guidelines here and base what you do off of what works. This will provide you with a head start when you think about how to write meta descriptions for your blog.
If you’re looking for meta descriptions that are more geared towards being shared on social media. Use Buzzsumo to figure out the most shared articles and base your meta description on the ones that are shared the most.
Good Meta Descriptions
The SERP results above are great examples of how to write meta descriptions. Notice the bolded words are the keywords I search for. Some of the meta descriptions use the term more than 3 times, so learn what works for your industry and go from there.
Here are so more examples…
I hope you see some good examples to base what you should do. These are two very competitive niches: digital marketing and the pet industry. You can bet these marketers know what they are doing, because of the competitive nature of these terms: meta descriptions and pet food.
Keep Your Ear to the Grindstone
Don’t worry too much about how to write meta descriptions. If you follow each of these tips and focus on what is working already, you won’t have any problem creating persuasive, targeted, and rankable meta descriptions.
Meta descriptions are always evolving, so it’s important to casually experiment and learn about them periodically.
Also, keep in mind that writing meta descriptions is only a part of the content marketing strategy. Here are few articles that will help you figure out whether or not, your content marketing strategy will get you where you need to go. Content Marketing Made Easy and How to Master Content Creation. Each of these articles will show you exactly what you need to know if you’re just starting out and give even a seasoned veteran some new tricks to try.