Optimization can get complicated sometimes. One day you thought you’ve analyzed the algorithm and found the right techniques to implement. Then one moment, everything changes. So when it comes to SEO, there’s nothing permanent. You have to be flexible as Google updates the algorithm at least 300 times per year.
Just recently, Google rolled out the BERT algorithm and it wants content writers to tweak their content a bit so it will be conversational with humans. You will no longer have to be stiff so and formal so the machine can understand you. This time, it’s okay to be conversational so that people can easily find you.
Meta Description is no stranger to this change in BERT. Lately, many writers have been optimizing their meta descriptions for voice search. This is exactly what Google wants now.
In voice search, you should optimize your meta descriptions in a way that it gives direct answers to queries. The keywords you target should be more informational now so scrap my first prediction where I said Google’s ranking factor shifted to keyword from longtail.
You’ll have to go back to targeting longtail, but this time, be sure to include prepositions that impact the meaning of the keyword and makes it more natural. For example, we used to construct geographic keywords this way:
“popular Korean restaurants USA.”
It sounds very unnatural but Google RankBrain understands it word per word and that is how it finds the results it will show you.
This time you can target a more complete phrase that wouldn’t be awkward to the readers like:
“popular Korean restaurants in the USA” Let’s take another example. For the longtail “European travelers visa requirements to USA,” Google seems to be confused, giving you results for US citizen visa requirements to enter Europe, which isn’t what you meant with this longtail.
But when you ask more naturally like “do Europeans need visa to travel to usa,” Google will give you results that are more relevant like:
Do you see the difference? Two queries with the same thought asked differently giving 2 very different answers. Google gets confused with the first one because BERT doesn’t understand the query so RankBrain comes in to give the results. But you see, the results are irrelevant, making readers find other ways to put their question and that is by being more specific and natural with their query.
So if you want to rank this day on, see to it that your meta description answers possible queries very specifically. It doesn’t matter when your meta is longer than the required for as long as what shows on the SERP includes the most relevant answer.
Now before this intro gets any longer, let me get to the ways to write killer meta descriptions to increase your CTR and boost your SEO ranking on search engines.
First, let’s try to recall what a meta description is all about. This overview of your content plays a vital role in search engine ranking, so if you want to be on top of the SERP, make sure to plan your meta well.
You have to take note too that your meta description should be in coordination with the metadata in your website’s HTML code. When you don’t fill up the meta description, search engines will generate it by default for you.
Another reason that makes meta description an important part of any web content is the opportunity for you to introduce more keywords. It is a vital strategy on-webpage SEO, so never neglect your meta description. And trust me, once you master the art of creating appealing meta descriptions, you will have a higher chance of becoming a search engine favorite.
Now here are the guidelines I came up with to help you create that killer meta description that any search engine won’t be able to resist. Of course, readers will be tempted too, resulting in your increased CTR.
1. Quality Over Quantity – ALWAYS!
If you tend to focus on the number of words you use in your meta description, then it’s time to change that mindset. Like I always mention in my SEO blogs, search engines, most especially Google is for quality rather than quantity.
Some SEO experts would probably tell you not to exceed 160 characters when writing your meta description as it will be trimmed by search engines when showing search results. But you have to know too that Google still reads the whole meta description that you wrote. So aim for a complete thought rather than compressing the thoughts and compromising quality.
“focus on QUALITY and COMPLETENESS, not QUANTITY when writing your meta description.”
The key for readers to determine that your content is worth reading, although your meta description is trimmed, is to go direct to the point and place the main answer (longtail keyword) to a query right on the first few words of the meta. Besides, when you got your readers hooked in the first 10 words of your meta description, they will grow curious and would want to continue reading, to know find out what the trimmed parts are.
To be honest, I am like that. When I see descriptions that catch my attention but the most interesting parts are trimmed, I tend to click to find out the continuation of the meta description. Just look at this meta description written by Neil Patel:
He said digital marketing is going to change drastically. Then I have this question in mind: “In what way?” Then the description continues with “SEO won’t look the same.” Then again, another question grown in my mind like “why won’t it be the same? What should I do with my digital marketing strategies then?”
See how it raised a curiosity in me? So I click to find out the whole story behind this cliffhanger.
Moreover, research pointed out that meta descriptions written above the limit got increased CTR compared to their competitors who had a shorter description just so they can add a call to action at the end of the description. In fact, the results were not minor. The finding stressed a 36% improvement in overall CTR.
So in conclusion, and I repeat, focus on QUALITY and COMPLETENESS, not QUANTITY when writing your meta description.
2. Unique and Interesting
Think of a description that will spark curiosity. Don’t be stiff as if you are talking to a robot. Remember, it is BERT’s time to shine so be conversational in your meta description.
Make people want to click through your link like how Neil Patel constructs his meta descriptions. That “…” at the end of a meta description will let the readers know that there’s something more. So it’s a trick to make them want to find out more. Like how I referred to it a while back, make it look like a “cliffhanger.”
You can be persuasive in your tone too. For example, when writing this blog, I was thinking of this for a meta description:
“Strictly following the 160-character limit in writing a meta description is dead! With BERT surfacing on Google’s algorithm, bloggers are now encouraged to write meta…(this is where Google trims the description) descriptions that are complete even if the character count exceeds to 170.”
Didn’t it spark curiosity? You know now that the old technique of using 160 characters is ineffective and I mentioned about Google wanting bloggers to write meta… then the description is trimmed. Didn’t you want to know what I am talking about Google asking bloggers to write?
I know it did.
And that’s one of the tricks here.
3. Effectively Place Informational Longtail
Following the example above, my topic’s about new ways of writing a meta description. If you noticed, The longtail “writing a meta description” was mentioned within the first 160 characters which will show in the SERP. This is a way to emphasize SEO in my meta description.
Like I mentioned in my advice earlier, the key to make readers know that your blog is relevant to their query is to answer their question directly with your longtail keyword at the front of your answer.
4. Use More Than Just Your Copy
Like I mentioned earlier, many writers tend to compromise quality just so they can insert a CTA in their meta description. I’m not saying that this is wrong but this time, it is ineffective. For products, it may still work, but if you are marketing a blog, this is certainly not the right way to do it.
Be creative in writing your meta description and don’t always pitch a sale. This will turn off readers as they’d see your blog as another promotional content rather than informational.
“Be creative in writing your meta description and don’t always pitch a sale.”
In the end, all you need to remember is that the Meta descriptions are here to stay for a long time. The sooner you learn to write killer meta descriptions, the sooner you will be able to start boosting your ranking on any search engine.