By Jade Pruett, SEO Strategist at Mind Over Marketing, an agency specializing in marketing for therapists.
Last week, we talked about how to write the “perfect” page titles for your website’s SEO. And no page title is complete without a great meta description to go with it. That is why today we will learn exactly how to write meta descriptions for each of your website’s pages.
In fact, this is exactly how I write meta descriptions for all of my client’s pages to help them rise through the ranks in Google and get noticed by their ideal clients.
What are Meta Descriptions?
Meta descriptions are short paragraphs embedded in your website’s code that describe what your page is all about. More importantly, meta descriptions are what show up in Google searches underneath the page title. Sometimes, they can feature links, photos, and even reviews. However, mostly they just give a brief explanation about what the webpage is about, so the user can quickly decide which website to visit.
Why are Meta Descriptions Important?
Meta descriptions are an important tool to help convince people that your website in the one to click on in Google. For example, if someone was searching for “How to choose the right therapist,” and they came across your blog and two others in the search results, your ideal clients are likely going to choose the Google search result with the most eye-catching information. They can trust that the information they are looking for is on that website just because they are already getting a preview of it on Google.
Meta descriptions are also important because your Click Through Rate (CTR) matters to Google when it decides who gets to rank in the those coveted top positions. Your Click Through Rate is the amount of people who see your website on Google divided by the amount of people who actually click through to your website. And what is going to cause people to click through to your website? An enticing and informative meta description, that’s what!
Bonus Info: Meta Descriptions Do Not Directly Affect Your SEO
Unlike page titles, SEO experts have concluded that meta descriptions are not a ranking factor. That means that while meta descriptions can indirectly affect your SEO by increasing your CTR, the keywords in your meta description are not crawled (or looked at) by Google to determine your ranking.
How To Write Meta Descriptions
Now that we know why we should care about our meta titles, let’s move on to more important matters: how to write them.
Start with one or two sentences explaining what your page is all about
If you are writing a meta description for the homepage of your private practice website, start by describing what your practice is all about or who you are. Or, if you are writing the meta for a blog post, give a brief synopsis of what is covered in the blog post.
Utilize your target keywords
While Google might not be checking your meta descriptions for keywords, it will highlight any words that a user Googles that are in your meta descriptions. For example, if someone Googles “What is play therapy?” those words, and related keywords, will appear in bold in the meta descriptions of their Google results. This makes it easier for the user to know that your information is just what they are looking for.
Consider adding a call to action
A call to action is simply telling the reader what you would like them to do next. In a meta description for your homepage, you may want them to schedule a call. You can express that by writing “Book a call today!” at the end of your description. Other call to actions options could be “Schedule an appointment today”, “Read more”, or “Reach out to learn more!”
Keep it concise
Because Google measures by pixels instead of letters, there is no exact character length to abide by. However, somewhere between 130-150 characters seems to be the sweet spot for meta descriptions. If you write too much, your description may get cut off in Google, which can mean important information and keywords are not showing up. Once you have written and published your descriptions, you can check to make sure they are not being cut off by Googling your website like this: site:www.example.com. This will allow you to see how all of your pages show up in Google.
Keep your Ideal Client in mind
Your marketing should always be about your ideal client; however, since Google is not judging your meta description too harshly, it should be even more about your ideal client. When writing your descriptions, be sure to keep their priorities, values, and needs in the front of your mind. Not sure what those are? You can learn more about your ideal client by doing this exercise. Write what you think would make your ideal client want to click on your website over all the others listed in Google.
See what else is out there
Just like with page titles, it is always good to know what the competition is doing. You can do this by simply searching for what you are hoping your ideal client will Google to find you. Take a look at what the other meta descriptions look like to get a better idea of how you should write yours.
Always use correct grammar
For some reason, it doesn’t go without saying that you should use good grammar when trying to rank in Google. Some people try to trick the system or “keyword stuff” by creating unnatural sentences like “click here to discover what are the best brushes for short haired dog.” This type of grammar often breaks trust with its readers, since they know this was written for a machine and not an actual person trying to find a good brush for their dog. Additionally, thanks to Google’s sophisticated algorithm, this isn’t necessary. If we refer back to our example about what happens when you Google “What is play therapy?”, you will see that Google doesn’t just highlight those four words. It also highlights “therapist,” which was nowhere in the search query. Google can also recognize the difference between plural and singular words, so there is never a reason to compromise your grammar for the sake of SEO.
Be sure every page is unique
If you have a lot of pages on your website, it could be tempting to write just one meta description and use it for all of them. However, Google might see this as plagiarism and take all of your pages off of Google. Besides, each page of your website is unique. Shouldn’t the meta description reflect that? More people will be interested in clicking through to your website if the meta description is written with care and specifically for the page they are searching for. It may take a little extra time, but the payoff will make it worth it.
Meta Description Examples
Here are a few examples of good meta descriptions for inspiration.
While the page title leaves something to be desired, the meta description for this page, which is ranking in the first position for “How to find a therapist,” simply lists the steps for finding a psychologist. Users would know that if they clicked this link, they would find more information about exactly what they are looking for.
This description is short, fully readable, and even features a call to action. Someone searching in Google for a child therapist would trust that this page has what they are looking for.
This meta description is a great example of Google highlighting keywords, even if they aren’t a part of the initial Google search. This description also manages to be robust and helpful without getting cut off. Users can trust that this blog post is going to give them all the information they were searching for and then some. No wonder it is ranking first is Google.
There you have it!
Writing meta descriptions doesn’t have to be intimidating and complicated. Just be sure to always keep your ideal client in mind when crafting your descriptions.
What did you learn from this blog post?
What tactics are you going to try for your own meta descriptions?
Let me know!
For any questions or help, be sure to reach out to me, Jade Pruett, at Mind Over Marketing.
I can’t wait to hear from you.
Jade Pruett is an SEO Strategist who specializes in marketing for therapists and counselors. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her therapist husband and corgi, Loaf. You can find her at www.mindover.marketing.