Meta Description: What Mistakes to Avoid

2 Feb 2022

A meta description? What is that? No, it’s not connected to Mark Zuckerberg and the rebranding of Facebook now holding the name Meta. It’s the tiny blurb of text that shows up right underneath a website on the SERP.

Meta descriptions are all about information about your page. They usually contain a summary of what the reader will look at if they click on this search result. It might even determine if it answers the user’s search intent. 

As such, a meta description is often the neglected part of technical SEO. In many cases, writing basically anything will do, especially if you’re a website owner or marketer. It is not a ranking signal, so why are we talking about it?

Even though, in many cases, writing an HQ meta description is just not worth the trouble, the meta description has a large influence on your readers. If we know that stuffing your content with keywords is just not enough anymore, we need to focus on these smaller details that prove to be more useful than we initially thought. 

If you want customers to click on your website, well, crack your knuckles and start writing a good meta description. While you’re at it, check out the list of “don’ts” that 42 Studio has prepared for you. It will surely help boost that tiny blurb under your website. Keep reading.

Do Not Look at the Character Count

When writing a meta description, you can’t write for days. You have a limited space of 150-160 characters, which is the general expert recommendation. This can be enough to wow the readers. 

However, the appearance of meta description differs when looking at it from your desktop and phone. Desktop computers can show 158 characters, which is 920 pixels, and mobile devices can read up to 120 characters or 680 pixels. 

Luckily, some tools can give you a preview so that you can adapt your writing to the space limitation. This way, it’s easy to write a compelling meta description while not focusing solely on character count.

Copy-Paste is a No

Not every web page can have a unique and relevant meta description; it’s normal in the digital world. Instead, you should focus on writing a quality homepage, the main category pages, and of course, the pages that give you the most traffic. 

If you are one of those websites with hundreds of pages, or even millions, templates are a lifesaver. This way, you can generate brand new meta descriptions while only changing keywords.

42 Studio Pro Tip: Don’t duplicate your descriptions! Even though it doesn’t affect the quality of your website, it’s better if you leave it empty. Google will take care of you in this situation and automatically generate a description from the contents of the page. Subsequently, this will appear much better, rather than seeing the same description over and over again. 

Don’t Forget the Keywords

Ah, the good old keywords. The pillars of SEO. Always, and we mean always include keywords into your meta description. While you’re at it, be sure to use the most relevant ones that match your page content. Sure, creativity is great, but hitting your customers’ wants is what gets the job done. If you don’t write a description with relevant keywords, the search engines crawl for the first sentence that has it and then display that one instead.

Spice Up Your Descriptions

Writing boring and plain descriptions won’t do you any good. One of the few ways to be creative in on-page SEO is the meta description. This is your chance to stand out from the crowd and swoon your audience. Here are some writing tips from us at 42 Studio:

  • Be precise: Having such limited space to describe a landing page and sound witty and smart is no easy feat. Being very specific can help you get there. With simplicity, you can never go wrong. Start with precision, then spice things up a bit.
  • Make them wonder: Do not reveal everything right away. Create a cliffhanger for your audience, making them wonder what you meant. This way, they’ll surely want to read more and click on the website. Question marks, unfinished sentences; it all works. 
  • CTAs: Try using less aggressive CTAs. You don’t want to scare your customers or repel them by being too pushy. 
  • Symbols and numbers: Given that people are used to looking at blocks of text while scrolling, you can grab their attention instantly by using numbers and symbols in the description. Yes, this means emojis, too.
  • Don’t talk about yourself: Even in the case of a short copy like the meta description, the main rule of copywriting applies. The people just want to know what they see in front of them. How else will they like your website and stay there for a while if you try to shove your starstudded opinion about yourself down their throats? You’ll seem pretentious, and nobody likes that.

Structured Data and Why It’s Important

Last but not least, structured data is here to help if you plan on standing out with your meta description in SERPs. Adding your company’s logo or additional information may seem more attractive to consumers. You can achieve this by using even the most basic structured data tools. Given that as much as 57 percent of companies don’t use structured data, this is your chance to shine. Google even has some guidelines you can use to get down with the basics.

Final Thoughts

In this competitive industry, standing apart is one of the hardest things to achieve. Regardless of what we thought before, meta descriptions are far more important than experts previously thought. And hey, if a good meta description is something that will get more exposure to your website, you should definitely write a good one. As always, 42 Studio is here to help. By following this article and staying in the know about the do’s and don’ts of meta descriptions, you’ll have impeccable content underneath your web pages in no time. For more digital marketing tips, be sure to follow our blog.

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