Despite what the banner implies, this is not the most glamorous of blog topics. That doesn’t make it any less important!

Meta descriptions are probably not going to help you rank highly in SERPs (search engine results pages). So, dispel the thought that this is why you are creating them. You are creating meta descriptions for human eyes. If a client is navigating to a website through a Google search and not through your URL, the meta description will be a factor in deciding whether or not they will click. It’s quite possibly the last place you have to get the attention of a customer online. And you had better have a meta description that matches what’s on your page or potential clients are likely to click off your page in search of something more relevant to their search.

Character Limit

When using the Yoast plugin, you’re allotted 156 characters for the meta description. Think of this as your 156-character sales pitch to get people to click on a page. If you are a frequent Twitter user, you are no stranger to condensing one thought into a small amount of characters. If not, it may take you a few tries to fit everything you want to say in your 156 characters. Read on to see how some tips for how to construct a good meta description.

What to Include

Okay, I know I said up there in the intro paragraph that meta descriptions are not for search engines. But that still doesn’t mean you should completely ignore your focus keyword or any other SEO-relevant info. Your focus keyword should appear naturally, if it really does relate to what’s on the page. In addition to your focus keyword, include your business name and location data (if you are trying to optimize for location).

How to Write It

Like most writing, you want to keep your writing in the active voice. Also, try to write as precisely as possible — don’t shove a ton of things in there or use extra flowery language. Be persuasive, but get to the point.

Call to Action

What do you want your customers to do? On the page, you’re probably selling them a product or service, asking them to schedule an appointment or consultation or having them download something. Your call to action in a meta description is to get them to click on that page. Figure out what you’re trying to get them to do on that specific page (Find out how XX can help you…; Learn about our cleaning services..) and ask them to do it.

Home & Contact Us Pages

A home page meta description should contain a very brief overview of your site in the form of business name, a main product or service and a call to action. The contact page should contain an invitation to get in touch as well as the business name. If you have a location, include it; if you’re a mobile business, you may want to include the areas served.

Should you use your phone number? By including a number in a meta description, you are missing the chance to get clicks on your website. If a client is constantly searching your name + phone number though, it would better serve the user experience to put a phone number in the meta description.

Once again, do not duplicate your meta descriptions. Just like with page titles, it might be a pretty daunting task to start writing a meta description for every page of your website, but it’s not too hard if you have a plan. Try prioritizing them; write your top level navigation pages first, then your interior pages. This way you will at least have a home, services and contact page complete.

Do you have any questions about writing meta descriptions? Leave them in the comments field below.