What Is a Meta Description and Why Should You Care?

It is safe to say that most people using inbound marketing techniques to draw traffic to their websites realize

the value of creating relevant, engaging content at every touch point.

To that end, you likely work on creating high quality content, employ solid SEO techniques, and map out a unified approach to marketing over multiple social channels.

However, you may be missing one essential component for driving traffic to your website. That component is a stellar meta description.

What is a Meta Description? 

If you are somewhat confused about what a meta description is, you are not alone.

For the sake of simplicity, a meta description is the little snippet of information that appears below the link when you perform a web search.

It is used to describe the content of the web page to the reader via a short burst of information.

Why is it important?

When a reader performs a web search, usually several pages of results appear.

A well-written meta description can persuade a reader to click through to your website.

Generally speaking, the results that appear at the top of the page are considered more relevant and are more likely to receive the highest number of clicks.

Therefore, the more detailed and eye-catching your meta description is, the more likely you will garner more clicks.

Meta descriptions are like small bits of bait designed to encourage clicks.

Of course, the more traffic you can bring to your website, the more likely it is that you will develop a client base of loyal customers and brand advocates.

Meta Description No-No's 

Thinking that the meta description is a great place in which to stuff SEO keywords is a bad idea. 

Just like the content on your website, you want your meta description to be an enjoyable read.

Keyword stuffing is not fun to read, and is actually off-putting to the average consumer.

As a side point, Google does not approve it either.

Another bad idea is to leave off a meta description altogether.

If you do this, Google will simply display a little bit of text from the first paragraph on your web page.

While you likely spent some time crafting that first paragraph, it may not contain anything catchy enough to attract a casual reader right out of the gate.

Leaving off a well-crafted meta description is forsaking a great opportunity to deliver a snappy sales pitch to prospective clients.

How to Write a Meta Description

There are a few simple rules for making meta descriptions work for you.

While it is good to be creative, meta descriptions require a certain loose structure to be most effective.

  1. Short and Sweet: Because Google will only use a snippet of information below a link, it is best to keep your meta description about 20 to 30 words long. While Google does 

not measure specific characters, it usually works out to approximately 155 characters with which you can work.

  • 2
    Make a good first impression: Do you remember how much thought went into every word of your first encounter with someone you wanted to ask on a date? A similar amount of forethought is required to write a good meta description. The point is for your reader to think, "You had me at 'hello'."
  • 3
    Keep it real: While it is true that you want to put your best foot forward with your meta description, it should be truthful in terms of what is promised. Meta descriptions that do not deliver on their promises can be considered a "bait and switch" tactic that will reflect poorly on your website as a whole.
  • 4
    Solve a problem: Keep closely in mind why your reader is performing a web search. Address the problem your reader is trying to solve, and offer at least a snippet of information about the answer he or she will find by clicking on your link.
  • 5
    Be specific: Consider your meta description as a one-shot chance to convey the importance of your message. The clearer the call to action, the more likely your reader will follow it. Appropriate use of SEO keywords is a fine idea here.

One Part of a Larger Whole 

A stellar meta description will drive traffic to your website.

However, crafting a good meta description is by no means the only marketing strategy you need to use to engage your readers.

According to a study published by Sales Leadership Council, "57% of a prospects buying decision is complete before that prospects first contact with a supplier."

Understanding how to connect your content with the right audience at the right moment in the Buyers Journey is the key to a successful inbound marketing strategy.

Are you ready to start attracting qualified potential clients to your website?