Most webmasters realise they need a well optimised website to rank well in Search Engines. Many websites spend huge amounts of money on Pay Per Click Advertising and Search Engine Optimisation to ensure high levels of traffic and sales.
I’ve worked with small local firms all the way up to corporates and there is one area of optimisation that is very often totally missed. The crazy thing is, this one piece of text is INCREDIBLY effective at increasing visitors to your website, this one piece of text is called your meta description:
A Meta Description is a snippet of text that Google (and other search engines) show to searchers within SERPS (Search Engine Result Pages). Users look at the search result and click on the result they feel best satisfies their query. In other words, this is your first opportunity to engage with a potential customer and you need to persuade them to click your listing from these snippets of text.
Whats in a Good Meta Description?
Your Meta Description needs to be relevant to the page it describes and it needs to be compelling enough to get a click through. If your Meta Description is not relevant Google may just replace it with a snippet from your content it considers more relevant. Get it right and use a strong call to action and take advantage of this prime search engine real estate.
Do not make the mistake of stuffing keywords into your Meta Descriptions – Meta Descriptions are not ranking factors in Google and instead should be used to tempt searchers to visit your website.
Why Improve a Meta Description
“I want to improve my rankings in Google.” I hear this from clients almost daily but it’s actually not true. What they mean is: “I need more business from my website”
Many sites go straight into an SEO campaign and disregard the poor little Meta Descriptions. This is a MASSIVE mistake. Improving your Meta Descriptions will increase the Click Through Ratio (CTR) of your listing in search results meaning you’ll get more traffic without an actual ranking change.
It’s free traffic!
Take a look at these examples below, I’ve screenshot the top 3 results for “Hotels” which one do you find more clickable?
Hotels.co.uk isn’t the worst but it reads a bit spammy (How many times do they need to mention Hotels?) It doesn’t read very naturally and I actually got bored by the second sentence.
Laterooms.com are doing a horrible job, their meta description is too long so the Google result is actually missing part of it and there’s no real reason why I’d want to click that listing. It reads horribly and it feels like they’ve tried to shoehorn the word “Hotels” into it at every opportunity.
Booking.com is the best of the lot. The Meta description fits, it isn’t spammy and gives me a reason to click it – “Guaranteed Best Price on hotels for all budgets” and it mentions reviews which for sure would be helpful for me to choose a hotel. The others feature similar text but Booking.com delivers it much more coherently making it MUCH easier to read at a glance. Booking.com just got my click and they’re not even in position 1.
These 3 examples are sizeable brands in the Hotel space and only 1 is getting it right. The thing is, not all searchers will read every Meta Description in full, instead glancing at it whilst deciding if it should be read further. If at a glance the description is information overload it’s not going to get as many clicks as it could. If the first two examples improved their Meta Descriptions they could see an increase in traffic for hardly any effort, changing them will likely take less than 5 minutes.