How recently have you checked how your pages are appearing on the search results? I don’t mean in terms simply of their position, but how they are displayed to those people searching for what you’re offering?
How your website appears in the search results can make a huge difference not only in terms of whether it is actually clicked on and visited, but the impression given to the visitor before they actually see your site.
You see the thing is that most people when they carry out a search online check the description text underneath the web page title, as this gives a reasonable indication of whether it is really likely to offer what they’re after. But that’s not all, because those few words which describe your page are also helping to provide visitors with their first impression of you, and your business.
First impressions count, and no matter how sophisticated and funky your website may be, no matter how user friendly, well laid out and informative it might be, those few words which represent you in the search results will already have created an impression of you before the visitor has even arrived.
“Changing a bad impression is a lot harder than capitalising on an initially positive one, and so making sure that your site is listed in a positive way, and in a way which encourages trust is vital if you’re going to increase your conversion rate.”
You may well have a website which is ranked beautifully high in the results, and you may be getting quite a lot of traffic thanks to that lofty position, but could it be possible that the percentage of traffic coming to your site might be raised by creating a more positive and trustworthy impression right back at the start, back at the search listing in fact?
If for example you user boilerplate text, which is a description of your web page which varies relatively little from one page to the next, it is likely that one of two things will happen. Either your listing will be bland, desperate or both, or Google will ignore it completely and replace your meta description tag with something they feel may be better. Google themselves say;
“Identical or similar descriptions on every page of a site aren’t helpful when individual pages appear in the web results. In these cases we’re less likely to display the boilerplate text.” ~ Google
When writing your meta descriptions, think about two things:
1. How can you word it better to sell trust at the same time as selling your products or services
2. How can you format it better to provide information in a more meaningful way
Meta Description: How To Sell Trust
Selling trust is challenging, because it’s all about creating a bond between you and your visitor or customer, and that’s without them even seeing your website – that’s just based on your meta description tag. Effectively, you’re selling trust through a dozen or so words.
As a rather crude example, a search for ‘kitchen gadgets’ on Google generates quite a plethora of websites, amongst which you’ll find one website (I won’t name them!) for which the description is;
“kitchen essentialskitchen essentialskitchen essentialskitchen essentials • Checkbox. kitchen gadgetskitchen gadgetskitchen gadgetskitchen”.
Then there’s another website for which the description is;
“In our round up of the best kitchen gadgets, you’ll find some fun utensils and other unique essentials for the heart of your home – and stomach.”
Quite apart from the formatting and lack of spaces the first example is massively keyword stuffed and tells the visitor nothing. or rather, it tells them that this is a website which is designed simply to rank high and sell. In fact it’s lingering below the 200 mark, whereas the second example comes from page 2.
Visitors tend to see the first example and immediately any potential trust is gone. It’s easy to assume the website will be cramped and crowded, the text keyword stuffed and hard to follow, and the whole thing geared towards algorithms rather than real visitors. The second example has a more personal feel to it, and a little humour, which immediately helps foster a sense of trust, and creates a sense of engagement even before the website launches.
Meta Description: How To Format Information
Another way of making sure that your meta description tags are conveying information to your visitors in a more appealing way is to use tags. This is great for structured content. For example, a good meta description for a book about SEO might be formatted like this:
- <meta name=”Description” content=”Title: The fundamentals of SEO, Author: L. Jackson, Illustrator: A.N. Scribbler, Category: Books, Price: £9.99, Length: 356 pages”>
By thinking carefully about how to format your meta descriptions, keeping them useful and focussed, making sure each page’s description is unique and purposeful, that it engages with your visitors in an appropriate way and helps establish trust in your brand right from the outset you can not only help to increase your site’s rank through increased click-throughs, but help to make that increased visibility convert into loyal customers and sales.
If you have any thoughts or questions about meta tag descriptions, or indeed about meta tags in general, please do send them over using the comments box below and we’ll do our best to reply shortly.