Meta descriptions are small but mighty and can be the deciding factor for whether or not a lead clicks on your website.
You should think of a meta description as a short advertisement for your content or web page. A lot of the time, searchers are going to read your meta description before deciding to actually click on your website, so it’s important they’re properly written and optimized. Keep reading to learn how to take advantage of this short space to really “sell” your firm to searchers!
What is a meta description?
A meta description is a short snippet that provides a summary of a web page. This forms an HTML tag which search engines will show in search results as a preview, as seen below. For your content to show up, the searched-for phrase typically has to be in your meta description, which makes optimizing it super important.
Why do meta descriptions matter?
The purpose of a meta description is simple: to get internet searchers to click on your content. Not only will this get more eyes on your firm’s content, but it will also boost your click-through-rate, which Google uses to determine how reliable your content is. If more people click on your result, Google considers you to be a good result and you’ll move up in the ranks.
Key Characteristics to a Convincing Meta Description
To convince someone to click on your search result, you need to be short and sweet, show your value, and leave the reader craving more. Your meta description is probably the first impression someone will get for your content, so it needs to grab their attention and suck them in.
1. 160 Characters or Less
How short, you ask? For a general rule of thumb, your meta description shouldn’t be more than 160 characters. The perfect meta description length will vary based on your content, but you should always attempt to get your message across in an efficient manner. You only have a few seconds to grab searchers’ attention, so you want to get the point across as quickly as you can.
Rather than being caught up on a specific number, you should focus on making them sufficiently descriptive and to-the-point. It’s possible that your meta description could be just 50 characters… it all depends on the content you’re describing!
2. Provide a Quick Summary
To attract the right leads, you should always summarize what visitors should expect to find when they click on your result. Decide what the core concept and benefit of the content is and center the description around that. A perfectly written description will not only preview the content, but it will also give the searcher a compelling reason to click. Ideally, your meta description should always include:
- What are you offering?
- Why should the potential client click on your page over other results?
While focusing on a summary is a good practice, be sure that your description is an accurate portrayal of your content. If your summary is misleading to visitors, they’ll quickly click away and your bounce rate will go up. A bad bounce rate can penalize your rankings and frustrate leads, which is never a good look for your firm.
3. Specific & Enticing
Your meta description should be actionable, suspenseful, and always include a call-to-action (CTA). Consider your meta description an invitation to view your content. Instead of writing a mindless and dull description of the content, draw searchers in with exciting, active, and even mysterious language. Tease the value of the content and emphasize the benefit they’ll get from taking the next step. Finishing with a strong call-to-action like find out how or learn more can give searchers the extra nudge to click!
How to Write the Best Meta Descriptions to Boost Your Search Engine Rankings
You aren’t just using your meta description to convince readers that your content is valuable; you’re also convincing search engines that your content is worth recommending! By including keywords and details specific to your niche and firm, you’ll optimize your meta description for search engines.
1. Descriptive & Specific
Generic descriptions like “retirement” and “financial planning” will be a battle ground for large financial planners and content creators. While you should still use these keywords and information to summarize your content and get across your point, you should find more descriptive keywords that are specifically tailored to your individual firm and audience.
An important piece of information for your meta description is your specific city or area, which will do wonders for your local SEO efforts. In the example below, Mountain Pass Planning does a great job of including ultra-specific keywords within their meta description allowing them to show on the first-page search results when you search for keyword terms like “Hopewell Junction financial planning” in Google.
2. Use Relevant Keywords
When a searched keyword matches a part of your meta description, you’re more likely to show up in search results. Google will even bold or highlight the searched keywords that are included in your meta description, which makes your content seem like the perfect match for leads. In the example below, the searcher would have searched “Apple Watch 4,” which is why the words “Apple,” “Watch” and “4” are bolded.
If you’re struggling to decide which keywords to include in your meta description, try using Google Keyword Planner. You can also look at your top keyword queries on Google Search Console to see what visitors are most often searching to find your content. Your keywords should always go to the heart of your firm and niche, so make sure they’re representative of your services.
3. Keep Your Niche In Mind
Your target clients should always be at the center of content efforts your firm makes. Keeping them in mind will help you determine potential keywords, write compelling copy, and include specifics about their pains and needs in the financial planning process. What would your clients be searching for? Keeping this in mind can help predict how to optimize your description.
In the meta description below, Kiplinger includes keywords specific to the content’s target audience and their pain points. This makes the content seem more specific and beneficial to women than a general article on retirement.
Meta descriptions might have been an afterthought for your firm in the past, but it’s time to make them a priority in your digital strategy. Your meta description affects you SEO, bounce rate, click-through-rate, SERP rankings, and more, so you want to invest time into writing one that connects with leads!