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How to Write Effective Meta Descriptions

01/05/2020 | Share:

A meta description is a summary of a web page’s content. It’s most commonly used by search engines to display a snippet of content from that page before a user clicks on it. This means that a meta description has a very important task to do, not just for e-commerce sites, but for every website in general. The words in your meta description have to convince the reader you’ve got what they’re looking for, or at least pique their interest. Think about it like a sales pitch or elevator pitch for your web page.

The problem most people face however is the limited character count. Meta descriptions are typically around 150 – 160 characters long. This isn’t much space to write all about you and what your page has to offer. There’s a certain art to packing as much information as possible into a meta description whilst keeping in the right tone of voice. And if you decide not to dedicate some time to it, search engines will simply pick what they deem appropriate. It’s better to have some control than none at all, right?

Meta description research

If you’re not quite comfortable with writing a meta description off the bat, we’d recommend starting with some research. Look at what your competitors are doing and how they’re using their meta descriptions to encourage clicks. Perhaps even look at your search history. You can backtrack and see what things you clicked on. Did the meta description have an impact on your choice, and how?

Each page is different

If you performed the research from above, you’ll know that not every page from a website had the same description. If you’re writing for a product page, then you should be focussing on the product and how it solves a customer’s problem. Try to write about the benefits of the product, whilst considering how someone might be searching for it. Remember – if a keyword or synonym appears in the meta description, it will appear in bold. This is great for drawing attention to your page and proving your relevance.

If you’re writing home page copy, make sure it really represents your brand. It may be the first-ever interaction that someone has with your brand. The first copy they see is your meta description. Think about how you can convey the following in around 155 characters:

– What are you about?

– What do you value?

– Why are you of value?

– What makes you different?

– Tone of voice

An impossible task

Going forward, with your new knowledge on meta descriptions, you should aim to write them for new pages wherever you can. However, retrofitting your current e-commerce site is a mammoth task. E-commerce sites can have hundreds of pages! Work out what your most important pages are and find the pages that need improvement. Start by creating meta descriptions for these. And don’t forget your homepage!

A few things to avoid

If you need a meta description and can’t think of one, don’t be tempted to duplicate one you’ve already written. Imagine if multiple pages of your site appear in the results! And, whilst it’s good practice to include your keyword within the description, it’s important not to stuff your 160 characters full of keywords. It looks unnatural and it will only alienate people.

Finally, don’t overthink your meta descriptions. If you spend too much time on it, it’s probably not worth it. And let’s not forget that Google doesn’t always use the meta description you set. It sometimes features text it deems more relevant to the user.

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