Back in May, Google’s Danny Sullivan confirmed the tech titan had reverted its meta description lengths back to more or less what they were prior to their December 2017 change.
The reversion came as a surprise to many who were just starting to adjust to the new length that allowed for an average of 300 characters. Most meta descriptions are now back in the previous range of roughly 150-170 characters, though there is no official length to confirm.
With shorter meta descriptions back in style, there’s a lot less room for descriptive summaries of your web page. This will obviously have an impact on content marketers who want to make sure their blogs are being noticed on Google.
Keeping that in mind, we’ve compiled some useful tips on how to write the perfect meta description for your blog and keep your click-through rates high.
Understanding the Benefit
Simply put, the primary function of a meta description is to entice someone surfing on Google to click on your link.
While they’re not directly used as part of their ranking algorithm, Google uses your click-through rate (CTR) as a method of determining whether the result is reputable. The more people that click on the link, the higher you can move up Google’s ranking.
This is why the meta description is so important. You’re not going to get anyone clicking on your blog link if you’re providing a vague, incomplete or inaccurate summary of the page’s contents. You need to approach your meta descriptions strategically and there are some easy ways to make sure they’re always properly optimized.
Don’t Live and Die by the Character Count
This might sound somewhat counterintuitive since we just told you about how Google went back to their old character count for meta descriptions — but don’t get too caught up in the numbers.
Meta descriptions should always be concise. Whether you’re given 150 or 350 characters to work with, you have to make sure that every single word serves a purpose. If that means it’s a little longer or shorter, so be it.
Just because Google gives you the opportunity to write a certain amount of characters, you don’t have to hit that exact number. In fact, you should always try to make your meta description as succinct as possible and leave out any extra words that might bog your summary down.
Choose Your Words Wisely
When you’re reading a news article and it doesn’t grab your attention within the first line or two — chances are you’re not going to read it.
Meta descriptions magnify that idea even more. With such a small number of words to work with, you have to make sure those words are simultaneously representing your blog post accurately and engaging the reader.
This is not the time to pull out your literature degree and add in five-dollar words. Have an active voice and focus on leading with action words such as “learn” or “create” to let the reader know there is immediate value when they click on your link.
Offer a Solution
Most people searching through Google are looking for a solution to an issue or to enhance their own knowledge base with more information.
What will the reader gain by reading your blog? If you don’t know the answer then there might be something wrong with the post itself and you should probably go back and do some rewrites.
If you’ve done your due diligence and know exactly what you want your reader to take away from your blog — why wouldn’t you highlight that? Not only does it give the reader exactly what they’re looking for, but it also makes you look like a more informed source on the subject matter.
The last thing you want is a reader scratching their head after clicking on your link and asking themselves how this blog post relates to the meta description. That’s a sure-fire way to get them to hit the “back” button in a hurry, and when they click that “back” button it is known as pogo-sticking and this has a negative impact on SEO.
When to Pull Out the Keywords
Since meta descriptions don’t directly impact SEO, there’s no point in squeezing a bunch of keywords into the copy. Not only does it not do anything to boost your Google ranking, it also looks incredibly sloppy.
That said, it’s important to tactfully include a keyword or two so that the reader can identify what they’re looking for in the search process. Google will also reward you for having a keyword in your meta description that matches the premise of your blog post. It’s a sneaky way of influencing SEO without directly doing so.
If you’re looking to not only strengthen your meta descriptions but your overall content marketing strategy, sign up for a free account to access our industry-leading content marketing software that includes visual calendars, workflows, assets libraries, and analytics.