11 SEO Tips for Writing Meta Descriptions That Get More Clicks

11 SEO Tips for Writing Meta Descriptions That Get More Clicks

You’ve done a thorough job optimizing your website for search engines. Your site’s crazy-fast, images look great, and content is tagged for easier scanning. Now it’s time to pay attention to those 155 characters (or less) that will hook users.

Below is what your page’s and post’s meta description looks like in search. There’s just a tiny bit of space under the meta title and URL—and a bunch of distracting competitors surrounding it—to sell your site. The search engines aren’t giving you much room to work with, right? You’d be surprised though at how much you can accomplish within just that limited amount of space.

An example of a meta description in Google search results.

The search engines may have enough faith in your site to boost your rankings, but you need to get users on board now, too. If you’ve gone to the trouble of improving your site’s ranking in search, then you need to show the same care for your meta descriptions.

Read on for some tips and tools to help you master the art of crafting a killer meta description for your content.

Crafting a Click-Worthy Meta Description

I like to think of the meta description like I do a really well-crafted tweet. It should be succinct, catchy, and containing keywords my audience is already talking about.

In order to merge this idealized version of the meta description with reality, here are 11 tips to use when you’re ready to set about optimizing your website’s metadata.

Tip #1: Don’t Leave It Up to Chance

Don’t leave it up to the search engines to create a meta description for you. They may just use the first sentence from the page, they may use another snippet of text that they believe is more relevant, or it could be a hodgepodge of header tags and keywords. This is your content; you know what the page is about and what will be the biggest draw for your audience to this page.

Tip #2: Cut it Out with the Copy and Paste

Don’t copy a sentence or two from your web page and call it a day. On-page content is typically written with the purpose of telling a story and guiding visitors through that story, step-by-step. Unless it’s a sales-heavy landing page, that copy isn’t optimized for placement in a meta description. So, take the time to craft a unique description that sums up the entire page or post.

Tip #3: Know Your Limits

Stay within the character limit.

Failure to observe character limits means cut-off descriptions.
Failure to observe character limits means cut-off descriptions.

See that ellipsis there? That’s no good. It implies a lack of care or sloppiness. If people are going to be picky about how your website looks or how well-crafted the content is (in a matter of seconds, mind you), how do you think they’ll feel about a carelessly composed meta description that doesn’t help them see the value in your page?

Tip #4: Mind Your Keywords

While on-site keywording is important to your SEO efforts, so is meta description keywording. For every page and post on your site, you’ll want to have a “focus” keyword around which all your content revolves. This keyword should be present not only within the page content, but also within the meta description.

Using keywords in your meta descriptions is important.

Users searching for those keywords might not notice the bolded keywords, but the search engines will.

Tip #5: Be Upfront

As with anything you publish to your website, be honest with your audience. If you try to optimize your content, keywords, and metadata around a term that’s sure to get you traffic but is completely irrelevant to what you do, it will backfire. Remember that it’s not just about getting higher numbers of visitors. It’s about attracting an audience that’s interested and wants to learn more. High bounce rates are sure to get you noticed by the search engines, and not in a good way.

Tip #6: Capture Your USP

When writing a meta description, be sure to encapsulate your unique selling proposition (USP). Tell readers right away why clicking on your search engine result page (SERP) entry will benefit them over any of the other results that appeared. It’s not a lot of space to work with, but you should be able to quickly explain what their pain is and how this page will relieve it.

Tip #7: Be Direct

Write your description directly to the user. You don’t have much room to describe your business, services, or products within those 155 characters, so don’t waste it. Speak to “you” whenever possible and let them know why exactly this page should matter to them.

Tip #8: Write for the User

Although paid posts do occupy prime real estate on SERPs, they’re typically not written with the user in mind. For instance:

Sales-heavy jargon won't necessarily win.
Sales-heavy jargon won’t necessarily win.

These descriptions don’t say anything really. It’s just a bunch of sales-heavy taglines. If you’re going to pay to play, that might make sense. But in terms of helping people find your relevant services or products, you’ll want to craft something clear, concise, and complete.

Tip #9: Conduct Tests

If you’ve done all this and still find that organic search traffic isn’t finding your page, try testing a new description. Do a search yourself for the keyword you want to rank for. See if you can spot any trends with websites that rank on the first page of results. Then rewrite yours accordingly.

Tip #10: Use a Plugin

For more control over your pages’ meta descriptions, take advantage of one of the high-quality SEO plugins available within WordPress.

With our SmartCrawl plugin, you can customize how page titles and descriptions display in search engine results, so you can control your titles and keywords.

Another plugin worth checking out is All in One SEO plugin, which provides you with all the metadata fields you’ll need to populate on each page, including the meta description. There’s also a character counter, so you’ll know if you’ve exceeded the maximum number of characters allowed in search.

Tip #11: Don’t Forget Social Media

As search engines put more emphasis on social media, it’s important to optimize your meta descriptions for social too. The WPSSO plugin enables you to create completely unique meta descriptions to be used whenever your posts or pages are shared on major social media platforms like Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Wrapping Up

Optimization doesn’t end once you’ve developed a website and put the pages in place. Give your website one more chance to grab the attention of users and optimize each page and post with a click-worthy meta description.

Are you a stickler for properly formatted meta descriptions or are they something you tend to forget? Feel free to sound off below.
Brenda Barron
Brenda Barron Brenda Barron is a freelance writer from Southern California. She specializes in WordPress, tech, business and founded WP Theme Roundups. When not writing all the things, she's spending time with her family.