When we create a piece of content, there are several factors we must take into consideration to ensure that it will effectively meet our needs. Writing an engaging piece that strongly communicates our messaging to our audience is one of the more creatively driven concepts we can employ. On the more technical side of content creation, we have the development of metadata including meta titles and meta descriptions that help ensure our content is properly optimized so that our audience can find it in the SERPs. In my years of creating copywriting and content as well as working in SEO content strategy, when it comes to companies’ handles on metadata and descriptions, I have seen it all — the good, the bad and the ugly.
The issue seems to be that companies tend to focus on making sure the content itself is strong, as well as the bigger-picture marketing strategy and campaign around the content. And sure, concentrating on fine-tuning the piece’s messaging, tone and voice so that the content is consistent with brand identity, and creates an engaging storytelling experience for your audience are crucial to developing effective marketing copywriting. However, what good is the greatest piece of well-written, compelling and thought-provoking content that maybe even presents your company as a trailblazing thought leader if you’re falling far behind in the SERPs?
Think of it this way — it doesn’t matter how strong your content is if your audience can’t find it.
This brings us to metadata and descriptions, an essential element of your SEO marketing strategy that helps make sure your content is properly optimized and secures higher rankings for your brand in the search engines. You can use this article as a guide covering everything you need to know about meta titles and descriptions. We will explore their purpose as well as as strategies to write them to ensure that your content will serve your brand effectively and elevate your company’s overall marketing initiatives.
What Are Meta Titles and Descriptions and What Are Their Purpose?
If you have searched for a query in the SERPs, you most likely have seen examples of meta descriptions and metadata appear in response to your query, without perhaps even’t realizing what they were. Simply put, a meta title is a title that introduces or presents what a piece of content or a web page is about, and the meta description therefore, goes into a little more depth, summarizing what the web page or piece of content covers, including main ideas and/or themes.
Look at the example below. If we were to search for the keywords “spring clothing for women,” the below result will appear high on the page. This is a meta title and description for Macy’s spring clothes category page.
The meta title introduces the category, Spring Clothes – Macy’s and the description summarizes what the page will offer, leading with an engaging question and including central themes and keywords “ wardrobe, spring clothes, variety, work, casual, etc.”
Does your wardrobe need a new variety of Spring Clothes? You’ll find Spring Clothes for Work, Casual Spring Clothes and more at Macys!
Seems straightforward enough, right?
Well, unfortunately too many companies overlook their metadata and descriptions, and their content can suffer as a result with lower rankings in the SERPs. Common problems with companies’ metadata include not having a meta title or description at all for a web page or a description that is way too long or too short, failing to comply with an SEO tool’s character count guidelines and will therefore, not be effectively recognized by the SERPs nor serve the company well.
Meta titles and descriptions are a vital aspect to overall, strong marketing strategy. More effective meta titles and descriptions will help drive traffic to your content and web pages. Since Google uses click-through-rate to assess the quality of your content as a result in the SERPs, stronger written meta descriptions that lead to a higher CTR will yield higher ratings for your company in the SERPs, to continue driving more traffic to your company.
So, What Are Strategies to Keep in Mind When Writing Meta Titles and Descriptions?
Don’t Get Too Caught Up On Character Count, But Be In Compliance
Different SEO tools have different guidelines for how long the character count should be for their meta titles and descriptions. If you use an SEO tool for WordPress such as Yoast, Yoast will let you know when your description has reached a sufficient range in character count, literally giving you the green light that it is correct. You want to avoid writing too short or long of a meta descrptions as it won’t be in compliance with the SEO tool and will therefore not serve you well in the SERPs, but keep the focus on creating strong, engaging and keyword-focused content in your meta descriptions.
Incorporate Strong, Primary Keywords
It is important to use your primary keywords in the meta description as well as relevant secondary keywords as they will help your page rank for those keywords in the SERPs. However, don’t just throw a laundry list of keywords into the description as that will most likely backfire. Google will recognize that as “keyword stuffing” and will penalize your rankings in the SERPs. Utilize keywords as they seem fit in a manner that feels organic to the web page’s needs.
Focus on Summarizing the Content in the Web Page
Again, the content in your meta title and description introduces what that piece of content or web page is about your audience. Therefore, your meta title should present the main ideas of the web page, while the description offers a succinct and clear summary that sufficiently represents what the content in the web page covers. When writing the metadata, think about what your audience needs to know about the web page to understand what the content of the page explores and what it will offer your audience.
Don’t Duplicate Meta Descriptions
Another common mistake that companies run into when creating meta content for their web pages is writing one description and using it over and over for a series of web pages. This is not a good idea, as Google will penalize you for duplicating meta descriptions by lowering your rankings in the SERPs. So, even if two of your web pages are similar it is important that their meta descriptions are originally written. The meta descriptions can be similar, but try to tweak of them a little here and there to make sure they are different enough from each other.
Keep Your Meta Descriptions Engaging And Use CTAs to Your Advantage
At the end of the day, you want your meta descriptions to offer a clear representation of what your audience can expect from the web page, while effectively selling them on the content as well. Therefore, make sure you are incorporating your brand’s personality into the meta description and write them in an interesting and engaging manner that will capture your audience’s attention and sell them on the offerings of the web page.
One great strategy to use to strengthen your meta descriptions while encouraging a better click-through rate is to include CTAs. Remember however, your meta description is not an email or an ad, so avoid CTAs such as “Read More” or “Click Here,” as those words are not appropriate and a little too brash for the likes of a meta description. Instead, try other active verbs such as “Discover,” “Catch up on” or “Explore” that strike a balance between too aggressive or assertive and not attention-gettining enough with motivating, user-friendly language.
What’s the best thing you can do to strengthen your SEO strategy to elevate your company’s rankings in the SERPs, and the impact of your marketing content?
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