When creating online ads or optimizing for SEO to promote your products, never underestimate the role of the meta description. As brief paragraphs that appear immediately beneath the URL that you want customers to click on, meta descriptions make your listings more effective both directly and indirectly.
Directly, a good meta description gives readers a reason to click on your ad, driving more traffic to your site and convincing more people to buy your products. This, in turn, raises your landing page click-through rates, and thus causes them to appear higher in potential customers’ search rankings.
By understanding the dos and don’ts of meta descriptions, you can make the most of these benefits and maximize publicity for your products:
Do: Solve a Problem
Customers don’t buy products; they buy solutions to problems they’re dealing with in their daily lives. Given that your meta description needs to catch customers’ attention and drive them to your site, the most important thing it can do is identify their problems and emphasize the product as a solution. Say you sell air conditioning systems, and you anticipate that customers will use them to reduce mold growth in their homes.
By directly stating in the meta description that you can solve their mold problems, you give customers a strong incentive to click on the ad as soon as they see it.
Don’t: Go Over 160 Characters
Technically, most platforms limit meta descriptions by the amount of space they take up, so the number of characters you can include will vary. But as a general rule, you should never use more than 155 characters. Any more than that and your description could be cut off if it doesn’t fit in the space allotted. Moreover, customers tend to respond better to shorter meta descriptions, as they are easier to read and remember. Thus whatever you’re trying to communicate, make sure not to use more than 160 characters in the process.
Do: Use Effective Keywords
As in any other part of your ads or content marketing, keywords help your meta descriptions attract the people who are most likely to use your products. You should incorporate them naturally into the text of your meta descriptions. Make sure to research your keywords ahead of time, choosing terms that are highly relevant to your product and that will bring in large numbers of customers. Continue to research and alter your keywords over time, as the most effective terms will change based on the search methods consumers use and their product preferences.
For example, if you’re selling a SaaS service like team collaboration software, you should be targeting keywords that include the primary keyword plus extra strings like ‘comparisons’, ‘reviews’ or even ‘best providers’. This way, you know the reader is actively searching for a team collaboration software provider for his business and is, therefore, a red-hot buyer.
Don’t: Engage in Keyword Stuffing
Keywords help your ads attract more clicks, but there’s a limit. If you pack the meta descriptions with keywords, you make it harder for customers to understand what you’re saying. As a result, they will be less likely to click on the ad, or even to bother reading through the entire description. Instead of filling your meta description with as many keywords as possible, limit yourself to one or two highly relevant terms per ad.
If you have a large number of keywords that you want to use, spread them out over multiple ads.
Do: Use Action Words
Meta descriptions shouldn’t just tell clients about your products; they should encourage them to learn more or make a purchase. The easiest way to do this is to begin each meta description with verbs that tell your clients what they can do with your products.
Take the air conditioning example: instead of saying “our air conditioners can get rid of mold,” opt for something active, like “learn how our AC technology banishes mold from your home.”
This both pushes clients to explore your product and helps them feel that they are in control.
Don’t: Include Irrelevant or Misleading Information
When you write a meta description, you aren’t just trying to get as many people as possible to click on your ad. You also want to make sure that you’re attracting the right people. If someone clicks on your ad only to find that your product isn’t what they thought it was, it won’t matter that they liked your meta description; they’re still going to navigate away from your page.
To keep this problem to a minimum, you have to make sure every detail that you include in the meta description relates directly to your product and industry. You must also avoid saying anything that could cause consumers to draw false conclusions about your products. Even if you aren’t trying to deceive, when a potential customer thinks you’re saying something about your product that isn’t true, they’re not going to want to buy from you.
So you need to make your meta descriptions as clear and relevant as possible.
Do: Grab the Customer’s Attention
The best meta descriptions grab customers’ attention immediately and don’t let it go. There are many different ways to do this, and the most effective way will vary based on your product and intended audience. But in general, you want to start with a bold or exciting claim and then give some brief details to explain that claim. The bold claim catches the eyes of customers who are interested in this topic, while the details show that you know what you’re talking about.
With the air conditioner example, an effective meta description would be: “Banish mold for good! Our air conditioners get rid of the warm, humid air that mold needs to grow.”
Guest author Reuben Yonatan is the founder and CEO of GetVoIP — trusted VoIP comparison resource that helps companies understand and choose a business communication solution for their specific needs. Reuben assists SMBs to align business strategy with culture and improve overall corporate infrastructure. Follow him on Twitter @ReubenYonatan