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Meta Descriptions: The Unsung Heroes of Content Marketing

Written by Nick Simard on 03.19.19

You may be aware of meta descriptions but not quite sure of what they are and why they’re needed. In a nutshell, meta descriptions are concise summaries of a webpage’s content that help users decide whether or not to click through to a web page. Search engines will show a meta description attached to each search result, making them critical for effective Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

 

All that sounds like a lot to ask of something with a maximum of only 160 characters. It’s a hero’s job. And that’s exactly why it’s important to write concise meta descriptions.Where are meta descriptions found?

A meta description is the brief bit of copy found just under a website’s web address in search engine results. The example below shows a meta description for a company that sells baseball bats and appears as the first result in a Google search for that subject.

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The way the meta description is crafted with the keyword (baseball bats) tells browsers that this company sells baseball bats and offers prices, selection, and shipping that are probably enticing for potential customers to click on the link.

 

How to craft a great meta description

Creating a hard-working meta description should be a blend of facts and engagement. The more attractive, relevant, and descriptive the meta description, the more likely a browser will click through to a site.

 

There are a few key elements to a great meta description:   

  • Tying in Keywords into a meta description is critical so that they will show up in searches
  • But be careful. Refrain from “keyword stuffing” a meta description; it’s important that any copy is readable and flows like conversational writing.
  • Don’t hesitate to make the meta description appealing so that browsers will want to engage with the company.
  • A meta description should be no longer than 160 characters. Any longer and Google will delete the excess and valuable content could be lost.
  • Google will penalize websites if meta descriptions are duplicated; each page must have an original meta description.

 

Examples of good meta descriptions

There are a lot of companies creating great meta descriptions all over the web. We’ve collected a few that we find particularly engaging and hard working and share them below.

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YouTube squarely puts the browser front and center and promises entertainment of all types sure to please every interest.

 

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Lonely Planet promises the perfect experience for those with wanderlust who still need expert advice.

 

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Who can resist the lure of an unforgettable adventure? Airbnb promises that and more within the confines of a succinct meta description.

 

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Square promises smarter business processes as well as faster payments. It doesn’t get any better than that!

 

Crafting great meta descriptions is both an art and a science. Be sure to include relevant keywords and make the content engaging so that browsers will want to click through. It’s a lot of work for only 160 characters to do, but it will make the difference between turning browsers into potential customers.

 

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Topics: Digital Marketing, Search Engine Optimization