If you’re looking to increase click through rates, there are many ways to do so, one of which is by writing good meta descriptions, also known as meta tags. Whether you know it by name or not, you have most likely seen and/or read meta descriptions in search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. It is the 160-character summary often shown in search results as a sort of preview for the page you will land on when you click on an organic or paid listing.

So, what makes a good meta description? There are several rules and best practices to writing meta descriptions that are likely to increase click through rates.

What Makes a Good Meta Description?

1. Be Brief.

The shorter and more to the point your meta tags are, the more likely people are to click on your listing. If your description is long-winded or confusing, people are likely to pass it by and move onto the next listing. The first 160 characters or less are typically what search engines are going to show. Going over the 160 characters will cause your description to be cut off, and in turn negatively affect your SEO score.  Your best bet is to keep it short and sweet (under 155 characters to be safe), and make the desired action clear, which brings us to – calls to action.

2. Use Calls to Action.

The goal of your website search listing or ad is to get people to visit your website, right? Ask them, or better yet, tell them what you want them to do with powerful calls to action. “Learn more,” “Contact us,” or “Find out how” are some examples of simple calls to action you can incorporate into your meta descriptions to increase click through rates.

3. Be Relevant.

In addition to keeping your meta descriptions short, it’s important that your descriptions are an accurate reflection of what the visitor will see when they click. If the link takes them to something highly unexpected, they are more likely to bounce (leave immediately), which will lower your overall search engine rank in the long-run. Always make sure your meta descriptions aren’t misleading, and whatever you do, don’t over-stuff them with keywords.

4. Bold Targeted Keywords.

Not only is it important to include relevant keywords in your meta tags, but it also helps to bold the keywords you are trying to target your audience with. These keywords will stand out in your search listing, and will help your listing stand out from other similar listings. You only want to bold one or two keywords at most, though, or you will defeat the purpose altogether.

5. Answer a Question/Solve a Problem.

 The majority of the time, people are searching for answers and solutions when they type keywords into a search engine. If you offer products or services that solve specific problems, or if you can answer an important question your target audience is likely to ask, put it into your meta description.

People search for answers online. If you can solve it, make sure it's in your meta desription.The following meta description example would be a good one for a car dealership. Let’s call it the “Best Car Dealership Ever.” “The Best Car Dealership Ever services all makes and models of vehicles. Contact us for more information about our vehicle services and prices.” This answers a question, but also encourages the user to take an action.

6. Test. Test Again.

The best way to figure out what types of meta descriptions are getting you the best click through rates is to test a few different ones out. Use different calls to actions, different keywords, different services to highlight, etc. Then determine which descriptions were more successful at getting users to click on your listing.

By checking to make sure that you’ve implemented a few of the best practices listed here in each of your meta descriptions going forward, you’ll be taking the first step to increasing click through rates.

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