13 Tips to Write a Meta Description That Ranks

You’re working hard to write compelling blog posts, market your business, and try to drive as much traffic to your website as possible.

And you’re doing a great job at it!

But still, one thing seems to catch your attention when you’re finishing up your blog posts. 

And that’s the meta description.

It’s a bit of a grey area for many content creators, and in this article I’ll go over 13 tips to write a compelling meta description that ranks in Google.

1. Keep an eye on the length

You’ve probably heard by several sources that your meta description can’t be more than 155 characters.

Well it can, but Google will cut it off halfway through the sentence if it’s not within the limit. 

Thanks Google, am I right?

What’s important is that you shouldn’t agonize over the character limit but just know that it’s there. 

Keep the 155 character limit in mind when you write your next meta description.

Check Your Backlinks

Get an Instant Insight Into Who Links to Your Site

Bold statement: you’ll see better results by focusing on the user experience and not the character count.

To support my statement, Brodie Clark from SEMrush conducted an experiment where he took a short meta description and turned it into a dynamic, truncated meta description to compare the click through rates.

The experiment ran over 84 days where 42 of them were with the short meta descriptions and the other 42 with the full-length truncated description.

The click trough rate for the term “interstate removalists” increased from 2.8% to 3.9% as you can see below.

That’s a 36% increase using the full-length truncated meta description instead of the short meta description that stayed within the 155 character limit.

Now, that says it all, am I right?

2. Focus on the end user and not the search engine

I bet you’ve heard this a million times before, but it’s just such a vital part of SEO that I couldn’t possibly leave it out.

Google has changed their algorithm a million times since they launched back in 1998. 

Now, they’re hooked when a website has an amazing user experience.

This goes for meta descriptions too.

Remember to always write your meta description as it is meant for a real human being. 

Oh, wait. It is!

Try to include the information that you think would be useful and interesting for them to hear. 

Here’s an example of a meta description with useful and interesting facts:

Now, if you were to shop for pink dog leashes, you’d definitely be over the moon with this meta description. 

Check Your Backlinks

Get an Instant Insight Into Who Links to Your Site

Not only do they provide pink dog leashes but they provide everything pink to deck out your dog!

If you didn’t already have a great day, you’ll certainly have it now, eh?

3. Use your keywords (but not overdoing it)

Even though you want to keep the user experience in top, you should consider including at least one of your keyword.

And preferably as early as possible in your meta description.

Although meta descriptions have no direct impact on your rankings, including your primary keyword will give the reader an idea about what to expect when clicking your link.

But there’s no need to overdo it. 

Make it as readable, concise, and crisp as humanly possible to boost those click through rates.

Here’s an example of a meta description with the primary keyword at the start:

What’s great about it is that it uses the primary keyword backlink tracker, and that the keyword is located at the front of the description.

If there’s one thing I want you to take with you from this article it’s that you shouldn’t just stuff the meta description with keywords like it was a stuffed cheesy crush from Domino’s pizza. 

Use them wisely and purposefully.

4. Be unique and stand out

Did you know that 70 million new blog posts are published using WordPress every single month?

How in the world should you stand out between the wealth of blog posts? 

Two words: Be Unique.

Here’s an example of a meta description that’s unique and stands out:

Check Your Backlinks

Get an Instant Insight Into Who Links to Your Site

If you’re searching for a source to teach you how to ski, you’re almost guaranteed to learn it by clicking on their link.

They offer readers valuable content that’s hard to resist clicking. Exactly what you need to do to stand out.

Imagine you were stranded in a chicken farm and you had to find one chicken amongst the crowd and every chicken looked the same. Impossible, right?

Now, if the chicken you had to find had a blue beak, it would be a lot easier. Your primary goal should be to be that blue beaked chicken, alright?

5. Avoid using duplicate meta descriptions

How awesome would it be to just write one meta description and then fire away with the copy/paste rifle? Yes, super awesome.

I’m sorry to disappoint you, but that’s not quite how it works.

Here are a few reasons why a duplicate meta description won’t work:

  • Can restrict users from differentiating between the search results in Google.
  • Could make your website appear spammy to end users.
  • Will probably reduce the click through rate since it’s not specific for the actual page itself.

That’s why Google automatically generates a meta description if it detects duplicate meta descriptions.

So, if you don’t want Google to replace your meta description with an auto-generated one, you might want to put down the copy/paste rifle and write unique meta descriptions for all your pages.

6. Don’t always write a meta description

That brings me to my next tip which is that you don’t always have to write a meta description.

Google will most likely provide an auto-generated meta description if you don’t provide one for your blog posts.

Here’s what Google has to say:

In some cases, it’s even better to not provide your own meta description and let Google get their hands dirty.

But sometimes Google will also replace the static meta description provided by you with an auto-generated one that matches the search query of the end user.

Hence, it’ll be better to provide a meta description if you have the time for it, but if you’re as hard-working as Dwayne Johnson who travels with his own gym to save time, you’re better off leaving some of your meta descriptions empty.

7. Remember that meta descriptions won’t make you rank higher

In an official statement by Google back in 2009, it was made clear that meta descriptions have no direct impact on the rank of your page.

But that doesn’t mean that the meta descriptions don’t have an indirect impact on the ranking of a page. Because they do.

By using all the steps in this blog post, you’re able to massively improve your click through rates in the Google SERPs.

And, as you probably know by now, your click through rates directly impact the ranking of your pages.

So, next time you hear that meta descriptions don’t help you rank in Google, think again. They indirectly impact your rankings.

8. Try to include a call-to-action

People want to know what’s in it for them when they’re scouting the search results. And that’s why you should consider letting them know.

By thinking of your meta description as being an advertisement with a call-to-action, you’ll be able to convert more clicks.

Here’s an example of one of my meta descriptions for finding the buyer persona for your blog with a call-to-action:

It clearly tells the visitor that they can learn how to create a buyer persona for their ideal customer.

There’s a reason why call-to-actions are used on landing pages, in ads, and pretty much anywhere else where conversions happen.

Why not use it in your meta descriptions as well?

9. Match the topic of the page

This one is pretty self explanatory, but I’ve seen countless of meta descriptions that doesn’t even match the content of the page.

If your page is about how to create an online course, you better put that in your meta description and let people know what to expect.

Don’t ever write about your imaginary unicorn when you’re writing about how to start a blog. Totally haven’t been there… alright? Just let it go…

Here’s an example of a meta description that matches the content of the page:

As you can see, the meta description clearly explains that Linkody offers tools that helps monitoring your link building campaigns. 

And when you — or an end user — enters the site, they’ll get what they’re promised.

10. Take advantage of A/B testing

If you’ve ever set up a popup conversion strategy, you’ve probably come across A/B testing. If you haven’t, check out my 15 best popup practices to boost build your email list.

Or not. It’s pretty much up to you…

A/B testing is a method of testing out two different versions of the same popup, webpage, or even meta description, to determine which one of them converts the best.

There’s really no tool to A/B test your meta descriptions (at least not yet…).

However, if you’ve already got a decent amount of traffic on your website, everything you need is to build meta description A and B for a specific page, show each one 50% of the time, and then measure the conversion rate of each of them.

The one with the best conversion rate is the one you’ll go with. Not that hard, eh?

11. Ask someone close to you for a revision

When you think you’ve created the absolute best meta description in the world, think again.

People around you might think differently — which is why you should ask them about their opinion.

There’s nothing wrong in asking your mom, dad, grandparents, or even your 6-year-old nephew for advice on how it sounds.

Ask them these questions:

  • Is the meta description intriguing?
  • Do you think the meta description reflects the most important part of my page? 
  • Could I change something to make it even better?

At least that’s what I would ask them.

12. Pull out your humorous side

You want to catch the reader’s attention and almost force them to click your link. What better way to do that than to use the art of humor?

Did you know that funny brands are more likely to be seen as trustworthy and human-like? 

And did you also know that people are more likely to share your content if you include humor?

There’s really no reason not to use the art of humor. Just be careful of not using the wrong joke at the wrong time.

You don’t want to be spilling mom-jokes if you’re in a law office.

And you certainly don’t want to throw in poker memes in a guest post that you’re writing for the awesome people at Linkody, now would you? 

That would just be inappropriate… (oops)!

13. Don’t overthink it

I’ve now covered 12 different tips to write a better meta description for your website.

If it seems completely overwhelming I either did a terrible job writing this article or there’s just a bunch of information to consume.

I hope it’s the last one.

The tips should be used as guidelines and should not be followed for every single meta description out there.

The worst thing you can do is to spend a whole day writing a single meta description for your article.

Just keep the 12 tips in mind when writing your next meta description, alright?

Write away…

Bonus tip: 2 tools to help you out with your meta description

Depending on how you built your website, there are a couple of tools to help you write your next meta description.

Yoast SEO WordPress Plugin

If you’ve set up your website using WordPress, Yoast is almost a must-have.

It takes out all the hassle of writing your meta descriptions with real-time tips and tricks that can help you write the perfect one.

Here’s how it looks when you’re editing the meta description using Yoast:

Simple, right?

You’ll even have a bar that turns green when your meta description is the ideal length.

It’s not a gamechanger but just a nice tool to have when you’re editing the meta content of your pages or blog posts.

I dig it.

Meta Tags

Meta Tags is another tool that I’m using on a fairly consistent basis.

It helps you visualize what your meta content will look like once it’s shared on Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Here’s what it looks like:

Once you paste your blog link in the address field, your meta content will show up. Then choose the channel on the left and you’ll be able to change every piece of content.

This platform definitely allows no room for mistakes when it comes to creating stunning shared meta content.

It’s just great to have to make sure everything looks nice and clean.

Conclusion: what to do next?

These tips will hopefully help you create even better meta descriptions for your website and improve your click through rates.

Now it’s time to implement them and see if they can take your meta-game to the next level.

Which tip are you going to implement first?

Jakob Staudal

Jakob Staudal is the writer at jakobstaudal.com where he teaches people how to scale blogging through a series of well-documented techniques.