31 Oct Stop Ignoring Meta Descriptions
Meta Descriptions are often overlooked by SEOs, which is understandable given that Google has explicitly stated that they are not a ranking signal. Why would you bother focusing on optimising your Meta Descriptions if they’re not going to give your rankings a boost right? Wrong!
Before I go into bat for the humble Meta Description, let’s start at the beginning…
What is a Meta Description
Meta Descriptions (or Meta Tags) are HTML elements place in the section of a webpage that describes what your page is about. This is then displayed underneath your URL in the SERPs (search engine results pages). It will also likely be pulled in when someone shares a link to your page on Facebook and other Social Media networks.
Basic Rules for Meta Descriptions
Meta Descriptions should be between 140 and 156 characters to prevent them from being truncated in the SERPs and ideally contain your focus keywords as they will display in a bold font when it shows for a relevant query. Overall your Meta Description should provide a brief summary of the information a searcher can expect to find on your webpage and entice them to click on your result over your competitions.
Why Should I Care About Meta Descriptions?
Once you’ve implemented the basic principles of SEO and have achieved first page rankings for your desired keywords, a good Meta Description could potentially attract thousands of extra visitors to your website depending on the keywords you’re targeting. Studies have shown that on average the following click through rates (CTR) can be expected for each of the ranking positions below:
- Position 1 – 31.24%
- Position 2 – 14.04%
- Position 3 – 9.85%
- Position 4 – 6.97%
- Position 5 – 5.50%
- Positions 6-10 – 3.73%
- Second Page Combined – 3.99%
- Third Page Combined – 1.6%
With these figures in mind, consider the scenario where you’re targeting a keyword that received 3,000 average monthly searches in Australia. You’ve done all of the hard work and it’s paid off with a position 1 ranking. Job done right!? – Nope. All things being equal, you should expect to receive just 937 clicks every month for that keyword. So before you turn your focus onto another keyword, consider the fact that there’s still over 2000 opportunities on the table every month for you to target!
If you could increase your CTR by just 5% for that keyword, you would receive an additional 150 visitors to your website every month (an extra 1800+ every year!) That’s an additional 1800 potential sales/ subscriptions/ enquiries just by tweaking a few lines of text.
Additionally, studies have shown that CTR has positive effects on your rankings as a high CTR shows Google and other search engines that your website was highly relevant for that query. So, in effect, Meta Descriptions can be considered a ranking signal by proxy.
How to Write A Killer Meta Description
With the basic rules in mind, consider your Meta Description the smallest pitch you’ll ever make. It needs to be concise, written naturally and above all give the user a reason to click on your result over the rest.
For E-Commerce sites, USPs are a wise inclusion such as:
- Free shipping
- Best price guarantee
- Huge range
- Money back guarantee
- Sale now on X% off
The same is true for service based businesses:
- X amount of years experience
- Happiness guarantee
- X amount of customers and counting
- We’ll beat any quote
Measuring The Results
So you’ve written the world’s best Meta Description now what? It’s important to continually monitor your CTR to see if your audience is responding to your 160 character pitch. Fortunately Google Search Console provides a useful CTR filter in the ‘Search Analytics’ section. Take note of the date you updated your Meta Descriptions then track the CTR from there. Keep testing out different variations and messaging to find what works for your target audience!
Don’t Forget to Markup Your Data
To take up even more ‘real estate’ in the SERPs, make sure you make use of the Structured Data Highlighter Tool in Google’s Search Console. This tool allows you to quickly markup important information such as prices, stock availability, reviews and much more which may appear alongside your Meta Description. This information can really make your listing stand your in the SERPs amongst your competition and ultimately attract more clicks.
So to wrap things up, if you’re just starting out with SEO then probably there’s going to be more important issues for you to address before worrying about your Meta Descriptions, however if you’re lucky enough to have a Brisbane SEO Consultant who has obtained top 3 rankings for your keywords, then don’t neglect your Meta Descriptions!