Meta descriptions that make people click

What is a meta description?

You search for something online and are met with a results page of potential websites that meet your search criteria. Under each webpage title is a one or two line description that gives you a snippet of information about the site: this is the meta description.

Meta descriptions are the two lines of copy beneath the website name.
Meta descriptions: lines of copy beneath the website name.

How important are meta descriptions?

A meta description has the power to make someone to click through to your website or, at worst, deter them from visiting. Essentially, it’s an advert that tells a potential client how relevant and useful your business might be to them.

Although meta descriptions have a limited impact on search engine rankings, they are essential in driving business to your site: why put the effort into SEO if your weak meta description means a client skips straight past your site on a results page?

How do I write a meta description?

Hiring a professional copywriter or SEO specialist to craft your meta descriptions isn’t essential. By following some basic rules, meta description writing can be a relatively quick and straightforward task:

Relevant keywords: A good meta description should aim to match your potential clients’ search criteria; you may also have noticed that keywords which match the search criteria are usually set in bold on a results page.

Let’s assume your website is optimised to meet the search criteria ‘Travel Copywriter Brighton’. A client types these keywords into a search engine and receives a results page with your website link at the top. If your meta description reads: ‘London based Copywriter specialising in Education’, they are unlikely to click through, and your SEO efforts have been wasted.

Instead, the description: ‘Brighton based Copywriter, specialising in travel’ would satisfy the client that your website matches what they were looking for, encouraging them to click through.

Compelling copy that leads with benefits: A meta description is a sales tool that represents your business and encourages people to visit your site, so highlighting your USPs and key benefits should take priority. Once you’ve done these, consider how to make the description more appealing so that it stands out amongst the other 20 or so other websites on the page.

Stick to the point: Clear communication should be your main objective. Don’t faff around with beautiful prose if it means your core messages are undermined.

Optimum length: Meta descriptions which finish mid-sentence are less appealing than complete phrases. Similarly, four or five word descriptions may not say enough about your services. Aim for 150 to 160 characters and if you must exceed this, make sure the most important information goes first.

Be unique: Each page on your blog or website is unique; the meta description for each should reflect this. Every time you write descriptions for a new page, consider which particular keywords are most relevant.

Keep it simple: Avoid using quote marks and other non-alpha/numeric characters in your description. Google doesn’t like these and may cut off your description because of them. If quote marks are essential, opt for single over double.

Consider contacts: If you offer local services, it’s not a bad idea to show your contact details in a meta description. If a client is looking to call or email, they may do so directly from the search page, without clicking through to your site.

lucy@lucygrewcock.comLooking for a Brighton based copywriter? Contact lucy@lucygrewcock.com