Meta descriptions give you a chance to tempt readers into your blog when you pop up in SERPs. They are your opportunity to give a snippet of information about your post, to entice more readers in and ensure it gets the clicks you’re looking for. Here I’m looking closely at how to create the best, meaning most effective meta descriptions and ensure more and more people click and enjoy your content (so not bounce back!).
First, we’ll look at exactly what a meta description is, moving onto how to structure it and finally, how to add meta descriptions to your WordPress website.
What is a Meta Description?
Meta descriptions are a kind of tag on your website which are very important to gaining click-throughs from the users who find you on Google and other search engines. They are simply short paragraphs which give you the chance to advertise the content within your post or page to searchers, so they know exactly what is contained within should they click.
Meta descriptions should incorporate keywords in an intelligent and effective way and be compelling in a way that makes searchers click. Exactly how to achieve this is looked at in more depth below.
How should you Structure your Meta Descriptions?
There are several things to consider when putting together each meta description for your posts and pages, below I’ll take each key area, in turn, to ensure you optimise your descriptions to perfection:
The optimal length for a meta description is between 150 and 160 characters. Some SEOs have switched to lower numbers to account for Google displaying a date in the search results and when this is the case, it can be safer to stick to around 155 characters. It worth trialling different lengths on different posts to see if it makes a measurable difference.
You can use whatever case you like when writing meta descriptions but it is important to have a style which you stick to. Don’t capitalise all the words in your metas, as it looks as if you are shouting or possibly aggressive in your description. Instead use exclamation marks sparingly and you could consider capitalising keywords for emphasis, rather than all characters. Similarly using all lower-case letters is also bad practice and adds nothing to your descriptions. I usually recommend writing meta descriptions in a form of one to two sentences.
Using Special Characters
In most instances, there is no need to get creative with your punctuation in your meta descriptions. Don’t use quotation marks, especially because they are only relevant if you are writing HTML code and will just appear confusing and could affect the layout of your description. Exclamation marks should be saved for only the most special announcements and occasions.
There is absolutely no value in adding duplicate meta descriptions to several pages or posts on your site. In fact, experts recommend you opt for no descriptions rather than duplicating the same ones. This is further backed up by Matt Cutts and others within the Google development and search teams.
Never stuff your meta descriptions with keywords. Like the rest of your copy it should read well and tell your reader something. Placing keywords in your description makes sense but they need to be relevant and remember that Google will bold any words which match the searcher’s keywords (or their synonyms). Including your keywords means they will stand out if there is a match.
How to Add your Meta Descriptions to your WordPress Site
The easiest way to add your meta descriptions to your WordPress pages and posts is to use a plugin. The most effective options which make it easy to both add your meta description and optimise it are Yoast or All in One SEO. Either of these plugins makes adding in your meta description very straightforward and ensures your never forget.
Here is a screenshot of meta description added to this post via All in SEO plugin:
To keep new visitors coming to your website and reading your fantastic content, you need to entice them in. This is exactly what your meta descriptions are for so make sure you use them wisely!