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5 Steps to Better Meta Descriptions

The practice of search engine optimization focuses largely on getting your information or website to display as high up the result list in a search query as possible. However, the work really does not—or at least should not—end there. Let’s imagine that you have managed to get your landing page to a top three position, certainly one of the primo spots. What will make someone want to click your listing versus one of the others?

Behold the wonders of the meta description. This one little block of copy has a big job to do, namely to get the attention of searchers. With just a few seconds to achieve this goal, your meta description has to rock it. How do make sure this happens? Following are five steps to do just this.

Leverage

Why reinvent the wheel when you have perfectly good ones at your disposal? In the case of meta descriptions, these existing wheels are your competitors’ meta descriptions and your paid search copy. Both of these can give you great insights into what works. Take advantage of this free (in the case of competitors’ descriptions) or pretty cheap (in the case of your paid search ads) research to learn what key phrases or structures to use. A word of caution—do not literally copy your competitors’ descriptions but rather use them as a starting place.

Differentiate

In addition to telling people about the content on a given page, tell that what makes your business unique. Remember that your listing will appear next to others that are likely your competitors. Find ways to set yourself apart from them to draw people to your site.

Pique Curiosity

Don’t be afraid to ask a question or be suggestive without telling the whole story in your meta description. When you do this correctly, people will be so interested they will want to click through. If you give away your whole story in the meta description, they have fewer reasons to click through.

Count It

Notice that we started the title of this blog with “5 Ways to…”. You no doubt have seen such a setup before. That’s because it works. Quantifying the steps to achieving something makes it sound, well, achievable. You can even add modifiers like “Learn 3 easy steps to…” Feel free to use more than one number in the description if it works such as “7 Ways to Reduce Expenses in 7 Days.”

WIIFT

Remember this acronym—What’s In It For Them—with the “them” being the searchers and your potential customers. Spend more time on the benefits that people can realize with your products or services rather than on the features thereof. People always respond better and at a more emotive level when the benefit to them is highlighted.

Be Varied and Versatile

You do not have to stick to one formula for your meta descriptions. Try different tactics from the list above and even experiment with different combinations of these tips. As with any Internet marketing activity, measuring your results will be critical and give you feedback to determine what works and what needs further refinement.