Cramming an accurate description, emotional hook, relevant keywords, and effective call-to-action into 300 characters is a bona fide art form.
Crafting compelling metadata is a powerful skill; and one that takes practice, careful thought, and consideration. Unfortunately, because most metadata is never seen by site visitors, this vital SEO element often gets neglected by site owners. It’s important to remember that search engines do see this information; this is how they learn what content is featured on a page. And that’s why it should never be ignored.
Metadata is comprised of three key elements: Title, keywords, and description. Each component plays an important role and supplies different information to search bots and Google users alike. Meta descriptions let bots and users know what the page is about and what information can be found there. This has a profound impact on click-through rates; and a site’s CTR certainly has an effect on SERP rankings.
If your metadata is structured and written correctly, it will entice users to visit your site. If it is improperly handled, however, Google will replace the description with its own version; and that might not communicate the message you are looking to relay.
Here we will explore metadata’s 3 components and how you can optimize this information for the biggest SEO boost.
As title information appears in the SERPs, it is one of the most important metadata elements to consider. While title tags can be of nearly any length, if they go over 70 characters, Google will cut them off. For this reason, it’s wise to keep titles as succinct as possible, while still maintaining accuracy.
If you aren’t sure if your title makes the cut, try using this snippet organizer as it shows how titles will appear on Google and other search engines.
It is also helpful to place the main keyword(s) in the beginning of the title. This will not only attract more eyeballs, but also because keywords are a vital component to a good meta description.
As a final note, each URL should have its own unique title. Be sure to take the time to ensure this is the case with your site.
When selecting top keywords, it can help to think of Google as the world’s biggest library. Each webpage counts as a “book.” The engine itself plays the role of librarian who must continually monitor the location of the books and locate materials upon request of users. And just like in a real library, there needs to be an organizational structure in place to help the librarian unearth relevant documents. That’s the role that keywords play in search engines.
All search engines leverage keywords as a sort of tagging system to organize web content into various genres based on given queries. This organizational system also incorporates metadata descriptions and URLs.
For this reason, it is important to employ the top keywords for a given piece of content in the title, the description, and the URL for the page.
Additionally, since Google Hummingbird has altered the way keywords perform within the SERPs, it is important to vary the usage of keywords, their synonyms, and related phrases within the content as well.
For instance, if you sell t-shirts online, you should include phrases like “red shirts,” “t-shirt sale,” and other relevant terms that will help Google hone in on your content.
When writing meta descriptions, it should always be your aim to entice or hook readers into clicking on the content, without misleading them with falsehoods or clickbait.
This means that your description should include several elements:
- An emotional incentive
- Resolution to the incentive
What this means it that you will catch a reader’s attention with an emotional hook. Something like, “Frustrated with your site’s lack of traffic?” works nicely in the marketing realm.
Next, resolve that emotional hook by offering a solution: “We can increase your site traffic by XX visitor per day!” This presents searchers with a tangible solution to the frustration you pointed out just prior.
Then, provide concrete information about the site or page to let readers know what’s in store. Here is where your keywords are likely to be leveraged.
To effectively utilize this formula, you need to think strategically about how to reel in readers and get them to click on your site.
What are they looking for? How you solve their problem? What makes your product/service unique? These are all things you should contemplate and address.
Meta Length Matters
The length of a metadata description is an important point to consider as there is no unanimous conclusions. A variety of SEO experts claim that descriptions should be brief, concise, and remain under the given character limit as this provides searchers with a quick answer.
Others believe that lengthier descriptions leave potential visitors craving more.
One important fact to consider is that if your meta description is too long, it will get cut off. Since Google has extended the length of meta descriptions to 320 characters, you have a fair bit of room to work with, however, those who are still new to writing metadata should stick to succinct descriptions that abide by the word count. Why? Because this will teach you the incredibly valuable skill of condensing information and selling a point in as few words as possible.
If you ever (or have already) entered the realm of PPC advertising, you will see why this is such a power prowess to possess.
When you have mastered this ability, then you can feel free to experiment with longer meta descriptions.
Learning to write strong and effective metadata is a must for anyone who employs SEO strategies. Effectively optimizing this information via hooks, keywords, and quality information, is likely to drive oodles more traffic to your webpages.
What is your biggest problem with writing metadata? Does Google’s extended descriptions help or hinder your writing efforts?