Learning the Basics of Meta Descriptions
In the world of Search Engine Optimisation(SEO), one of the basic skills required is a good sense of how to write excellent Meta Descriptions for websites using any of the SEO plugins(such as Yoast or All-in-One SEO Pack).
In a competitive industry based on writing and advertising, good metadata description shines as a mark of quality and is a craft in itself. From my experiences writing metadata and viewing other companies and websites, here are some tips to get you started on composing your own Metadata masterpiece.
Insert Keywords in Meta Descriptions
I like to think of Google as a massive library that contains millions upon billions of books and information. The search engine functions as a librarian that helps to keep track of and locate books for curious individuals who browse the library. Hence, an organized system is in place to make the Librarian’s job easier and the process quicker for the user.
Google search engine (and even Bing for that matter) utilizes keywords to classify information, just like books are organized into their specific genres. However, this classification is not just based on the title of the site, but its meta description and slug URL.
Hence, writing using keywords in meta descriptions is especially integral to allowing Google to identify your information quickly and precisely. A good meta description gives clarity for bots to understand what the content is about.
For instance, if writing for a website about Car dealership, it may be useful to include search terms such as “Automobile purchase”, “Car dealer” or “Car ownership” in some of the pages’ metadata.
Using these specific keywords narrows down the scope of Google’s search and allows interested parties to immediately zone in on the website.
Don’t write gibberish in your meta descriptions
The intuitive step is to think that flooding the metabox with keywords is going to aid in drawing in Google’s algorithm, because the more numerous and frequently visible the keywords are, the more people will see the website right?
Wrong. Not only is that incorrect, but it could potentially damage your reputation as an SEO company and actually decrease the number of clicks to the targeted website.
Why is this so? Simply put, Google’s Search algorithm ranks the website not only from the number of clicks but also the reputability of links and whether or not the website contains bots or spam. If the website is deemed bot-infested or spam, Google’s Search Engine will mark the website as less favorable on its rankings, causing a drop in traffic.
Additionally, writing spam or throwing out keywords with no fluency looks unsightly on the meta page, and reflects poorly on you as a meta description editor, as your job is to make quality content that will draw in viewers.
The right thing to do in this scenario would be to write a fluent copy in the metabox which involves a selected number of keywords. The copy should flow from start to finish and keywords must be weaved in strategically. Thus, the job of a Metadata description editor requires some language proficiency and strategic thinking.
Compel your audience with effective meta descriptions
What good would SEO be if it wasn’t attractive to the reader or viewer? As a metadata description editor, my aim is always to entice viewers to click through and explore the website.
This is why it is important to write compelling and interesting copy in the metabox which will catch the eye of the unsuspecting internet user who has stumbled upon the link to your site. A good format which I like to use looks like this:
Emotional Hook -> Resolution to Emotional Hook -> Information -> Reinforcement (ERIR)
(A good way to remember this is to use the acronym ERIR, which sounds like the word “error”.)
How this format works is really simple. First, catch the reader’s eye by giving them an emotional reaction. For instance a phrase such as “Feeling tired of deflated tires?” or “Don’t let finances get in the way of your ambitions” tends to invoke emotional reactions within readers which may cause them to feel a sense of curiosity. Next, resolve it by offering a solution or a means to curb their emotional state.
A good example would be “Get your tires replaced at Bob’s Tires, the best tire replacement service”. This offers them an avenue for concrete action and resolves the initial question in the Emotional Hook. Next, provide factual information about the site.
This is a good opportunity to fill the keywords in, such as “tire replacement” or “car repair” to boost SEO ratings. Finally, reinforce any key ideas about the site or company by providing the motto or assurance of quality service. This subconsciously makes the viewer associate those ideas or themes with the image of the website or service you are promoting.
In a nutshell, this process requires strategic manipulation of the reader’s emotional state and a balance between keywords and selling must be made. If not, search rankings will not improve as you may have used too few relevant keywords.
Finding the right length of meta descriptions
The length of copy in metadata descriptions is an interesting point of discussion as there is no consensus about whether one should stay below the common character limit or exceed it.
Many SEO sites and prominent people in this industry believe that staying concise and under the character limit is good as it gives people the content they want to see quickly and with no frills. However, others believe that leaving a longer copy causes viewers to want to read more.
Personally, I find that the first approach is better for beginners, as it gives them the ability to condense information and sell it in less text and provides good learning for upcoming SEO writers to hone their writing. The second approach becomes more viable for experienced SEO metadata writers who are familiar with how to quickly hook a reader in.
Another important thing to note is the problem of duplication, especially if your website offers a niche service or has fewer subpages than most. Always avoid duplicating metadata descriptions if you can help it, as duplication of metadata means that you are missing out on opportunities to add more keywords or more varied information about your website, focusing solely on a few narrow keywords and descriptions.
Google’s Search Engine might rank your website very highly based on those limited keywords, but more varied search terms might not be optimised for your website as a result. Additionally, this means that your own webpages are fighting each other for Google’s attention, “cannibalising” themselves in the process. Always try to vary descriptions, even when the information provided overlaps.
Humans love looking at numbers. Having statistics or numbers which quantify the topic at hand can boost ratings and clicks. Examples include ” 5 star review”, “Top 100 rankings” or the classic “IGN 10/10” that many gamers should be well-acquainted with.
People love seeing numerical statistics that display reputability and quality, which is why including these can help compel viewers and encourage them to click through.
Adding numbers gives an immediate estimate of value, which reveals a lot about the website’s public perception.
Being Adaptable to Different Scenarios
Some of the websites I have written metadata for range from Law Firms, Engineering companies to Tuition classes. For each of those disciplines, I used the template of ERIR for main pages, and improvised for the rest. Having adaptability is an important skill to have in this industry (and life in general), as some websites may have completely different requirements.
For the Accounting and Law Firms, I adopted a more professional tone of writing as people seeking those services out are likely to require a more factual and efficient perspective. For services such as Tuition, Property, and Retail, I use a salesperson-like tone as I am trying to rope in more customers for that website.
When writing metadata for technical pages such as Technology or Science websites, I simply choose a main idea and the most important facts and place them in the metabox, skipping over the ER stage of the ERIR process.
In essence, there are times when one should be as shrewd as a Wall Street Businessman, and times when one should be as factually precise like Spock from Star Trek. This important skill will come with more practice and experience writing metadata descriptions for clients, and is something that separates a mediocre writer from a good one.
If you were too lazy to read the full article, here is a quick summary of how to write good metadata descriptions:
1.Use the right Keywords, and use them frequently
2.Ensure Legibility, not just spamming keywords
3.Make your description enticing with ERIR
4.Avoid reusing copy
5.Length should ideally not exceed the character limit
6.Numerical Values -product info,ratings, star reviews, money, counters
Hopefully, you can now write awesome content in your meta descriptions and initiate high traffic to sites.
Good luck and thanks for reading!