What is the first thing you see when reviewing a Google search engine results page? Do your eyes immediately focus on the title of each page? What about the URL? How about the meta description?
While the title and URL can provide a basic idea of what the page is about, it’s the meta description that contains the most useful information.
Before we show you an example, here’s a basic overview of what a meta description is:
A Meta description is an HTML element that appears on the search engine results page below the page title. Meta descriptions are used to summarize a page’s content and encourage qualified users to click.
With that in mind, here’s an example from a popular ecommerce website:
To help users more easily scan the page, Google bolds keywords within the meta description that match their search terms. In the example above, the words “Chelsea” and “crossbody” are in bold.
In December 2017, Google increased the meta description length from 155 to 300 characters. By adding more characters in the meta description, you have the opportunity to provide searchers with additional information that entices them to click.
Meta Descriptions and SEO
It’s a common misconception that search engines use meta descriptions in their ranking algorithm. While this has no direct impact on search engine rankings, there are two things to remember:
- The better your meta description the greater chance there is that users will click through to your website
- When more users click on your page, especially when it’s located lower in the results, the search engine will recognize its importance and increase its ranking
It’s these two points that show why it’s critical to carefully craft the perfect meta description for each page of your website.
Meta Description Guidelines
Now that you understand the importance of creating meta descriptions for your ecommerce website, let’s touch on how to make the most of each one. Here are five tips to guide you:
- Include a call to action. The purpose of this is to attract the searcher and improve the likelihood of clicking through to your website. Use words such as: find, explore, discover, shop, and buy.
- Each meta description should be unique. Using the same meta description for each page is a great way to save time. It’s also a great way to kill your click through rate. Each one should be unique, all the while describing the content of the page. For example, a product page for an ecommerce website should include a description, the make and model (if applicable), and any special offers.
- Don’t exceed 300 characters. If you do this, the search engine will truncate the description, thus leaving out potentially important information.
- Include high value keywords. Google will bold these for the searcher, making the results page easier to scan and allowing the description to stand out from the crowd. Also, use synonym keywords to attract a larger audience.
- Use special offers. With so much competition, the meta description is often the difference between securing a click and losing out to another website. A special offer, such as free shipping, can tilt the scales in your favor.
Here’s an example of a meta description that checks all the boxes above:
- Call to action with the words “discover” and “shop”
- Unique meta description, even when compared to similar shoes in its store
- Direct and to the point, well below the 300 character limit
- The use of multiple high value keywords, such as “booties” and “Cruise 19 Collection”
- There is no special offer, but it’s replaced by prompting the searcher to “shop the latest trends”
Use a Meta Description Offer
Adding a special offer in product page meta descriptions can increase your click through rate. There are two ways of doing so:
- Static offer: it never changes and can be easily implemented on the product page template
- Dynamic offer: it changes regularly and requires additional engineering resources, such as custom code, to implement
Here are some examples of both static and dynamic offers:
- Free Shipping on All Orders: Static
- ## Day Money Back Guarantee: Static
- #-Year Warranty: Static
- Receive ##% Off Your First Purchase: Static
- # of Reviews: Dynamic
- Last Reviewed: Dynamic
- New for 2019: Dynamic
Experiment with both static and dynamic offers, paying close attention to which type results in a higher click through rate.
This meta description includes two offers, free shipping and free returns:
By creating and implementing better meta descriptions, you’ll find traffic to your ecommerce website on the rise. When you combine the tips above with a trial and error strategy, there’s no reason you can’t have the most effective meta descriptions in your industry.