The Ultimate Guide to Writing GREAT Meta Descriptions Every Time

by Marcus Sheridan

Meta Search

A couple of quick points to make sure we’re on the same page to start this article…

  1. SEO is not going anywhere anytime soon, so we may as well embrace it, especially considering a business’ sales can rise or fall by millions of dollars based on search engine results. This being said, it’s critical that we all understand how to write great blog titles, meta descriptions, proper URLs, header tags, etc.—and not just create great content. (As I’ve said before, if you’re striving for “great content” without paying close attention to SEO opportunities as well, you’re foolish for not striving to achieve your potential.)
  2. The most common SEO mistake we see from businesses looking to embrace blogging and better content marketing is bad titles. I’ve written a pretty darn awesome post (if I do say so myself ;-) ) on how to write great blog titles that get results, so be sure to give it a read as well.
  3. The second most common SEO (or back-end) mistake businesses make with their content (other than bad content itself) is the issue of writing poorly formed meta descriptions, which will be the central theme to this post.

What is a Meta Description?

In simple terms, a meta description is an HTML tag that is used to describe a web page/blog article (same thing) in snippet form, and can be customized quite easily on most platforms, especially with WordPress, by simply using something like the All-in-One-SEO Pack. There are 3 places each of us see meta descriptions every day, making their proper structure and styling all the more important:

  1. In search engine results, underneath the page title and URL—and something most searchers (that would be you and me) briefly review so as to confirm our decision to “click” (or not click) a particular page. ***Note: Although a Meta Description isn’t necessarily about “SEO” per se, it can have a dramatic effect on click through rate, which is exactly why it merits our serious attention. [More Clicks=More Visits=More Social Shares and Links=Better SEO]
  2. In social media settings where, when sharing a page of a site, the description is shown.
  3. In social bookmarking sites, where as with social media, meta descriptions are often used with content snippets.
Without many of us even realizing it, Meta Descriptions affect our actions (and spending) online each and every day throughout the world, thus meriting our serious attention.

Without many of us even realizing it, Meta Descriptions affect our actions (and spending) online each and every day throughout the world, thus meriting our serious attention.

As I look around the web each day, I’m amazed at how many people and businesses miss the mark when it comes to the proper writing of meta descriptions, which is exactly why I wanted to show a very simple and effective method for writing a great one with today’s post.

Talk to Me, Make it about My Problems, Then Solve My Problems

Quick question for you, and it’s a tough one…

Why do people use search engines (Google)?

1. Because they want to solve their problem in that moment.

or

2. Because they want to be sold something, and hear about how awesome your company is.

OK, so it wasn’t such a tough question, but hopefully you get the point—people use search engines to get answers and solutions, and their ability to gauge whether or not a website does that generally starts with the page title, the URL, and the meta description they see in search engine results.

That being said, think for a second about the types of meta descriptions that turn you off when you’re searching for something vs. the ones that appeal to your senses and lead you to the ultimate goal of making “the click.” What does that meta description look like?

Generally, for most all of us, a great meta description is directly associated with our question/need/problem—and we have the ability to decipher that quickly.

Furthermore, the feel and tone of the description is personal, real, and the opposite of robotic.

It is for this reason why I generally suggest great meta descriptions start with a question regarding a person’s problem and then offer a solution to said problem (without sounding “salesy”)—all of which should be done in a personalized form in less than 150 characters (as this is the limit). In fact, I suggest you utilize 3 parts to a powerful meta description:

1. Ask a question that shows empathy and has a personal feel

2. Make sure said question repeats the keyword goal of the post (If you don’t have one, there is a good chance you should, although this is not always the case.)

3. Tell the reader they’ll find the answer to what they’re looking for.

For example, let’s look at a typical meta description used in one of my most successful articles here at TSL:

As shown here, great meat descriptions generally have 3 essential elements.

As shown here, great meta descriptions generally have 3 essential elements.

By using these 3 simple steps, and repeating the process again and again, you’ll see how easy it is to produce trust-inducing and click-worthy meta descriptions that brings your web content results and more visitors. In fact, I’d suggest that if all your current meta descriptions for the pages of your website are not customized and follow a similar pattern that you take the time to fix them. Trust me, I’ve had many, many clients perform this task with old content and it always helps move the needle.

Here one more example just to make sure everyone sees how to apply the same pattern again and again with this:

Great meta descriptions are about "helping," not selling, as shown in this example.

Great meta descriptions are about “helping,” not selling, as shown in this example.

Your Turn

Hopefully you now see just how easy this process is with respect to creating powerful meta descriptions that get more click-throughs and lead to stronger results. A quick question for you: Up to this point, how have you been designing your meta descriptions? Are there any patterns you follow? Do you feel the steps mentioned in this article will help?





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{ 86 comments… read them below or add one }

Ocha July 31, 2013 at 8:17 am

I agree Marcus that we must give SEO the attention it deserves. Without it the big G wouldn’t know what in the world we are talking about. I actually use one of the Yoast plugins for WP which for me, seems to work well and I find it easy to use.

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Marcus Sheridan August 1, 2013 at 12:20 am

Yep, Yoast is an excellent tool too Ocha.

Thanks for stopping by!

Marcus

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John Gibb August 4, 2013 at 9:22 am

Hey Marcus

To me Yoast is too complex I use All In One Seo Plugin, my partner uses Platinum SEO…

Anyway, regarding meta descriptions… the idea as you state is to answer people’s questions or help with their need, so I often use questions and more than often start off directly from the keyword I’m targeting…

I also use numbers (if for e.g. I share 5, 7 or whatever tips/methods/secrets/ways, etc…) to grab their attention, and it works wonders…

I also use “…” at the end of all meta descriptions, to raise their curiosity and make them click. It kind of build suspense :)

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Philos July 31, 2013 at 9:08 am

Love the great reminder, especially the part where you tell them more about the page they are about to visit, using words like ‘extensive guide’ and similar words.

Searchers want to save time and get what they want quickly, and I agree with you that carefully crafted and honest meta descriptions go a long way in helping them achieve their goal of spending as less time as possible to get what they want.

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Marcus Sheridan August 1, 2013 at 12:19 am

Thrilled you enjoyed the piece Philos.

Continues success my friend,

Marcus

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Joey Giangola July 31, 2013 at 9:32 am

Marcus,

Fantastic little formula. I always found myself asking a question, but forgetting to deliver on what the answer was.

One question though, since you have so few words to work with, any suggestions for those blog posts focused on longer tail key words?

Example for my industry: “Ohio Health Insurance Marketplace” kills a lot of real estate.

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Marcus Sheridan August 1, 2013 at 12:18 am

Yeah, it’s a case by case basis Joey, but to be honest, the phrase you’ve mentioned there still gives you the opportunity to write great descriptions. If you ever get stuck on one, just email it to me and we’ll discuss how to get ‘er done. :-)

Marcus

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Joey Giangola August 1, 2013 at 8:35 am

Thanks Marcus, I might have to take you up on that offer.

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Mike Kawula July 31, 2013 at 9:33 am

Always rocking it w/ value Marcus, hope to catch up sometime at a conference. Sincerely I’d put you on the top 5 of those who’ve been extremely beneficial consistently in helping me over the last 6 months.

I also use All-in-1-Seo and read your other post you linked up in this. Curious below the Meta-Description, for the Meta-Keyword do you just fill in 1 phrase in that area you’re looking to focus on or do you fill in a few different phrases like:
Inbound Pool Cost, Above Ground Pool Cost, How much do Inground Pools Cost

Some have told me put many in and others have told me only put one phrase/keyword.

Miss the Podcast, but sure you’re enjoying the summer with the family. If time check out YFS Magazine online. Wrote a guest recently still on home page about How to Teach Entrepreneurial Lessons to Children. You might appreciate & would value your feedback.

Safe travels ~ Mike

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Marcus Sheridan August 1, 2013 at 12:17 am

Mike, you’re awesome buddy and I appreciate the heck out of you and your kind words.

And yeah, I’m making a major run at some conferences coming up brother, so I’d love to catch up.

Oh, and btw, I don’t ever mess w meta keywords. They truly are a waste due to the fact no one sees them and they don’t affect SERPs.

Best,

Marcus

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Adarsh Thampy July 31, 2013 at 9:38 am

Marcus,

I wouldn’t bother with meta description for two reasons

1. It doesn’t help in SEO ranking in anyway. It’s similar to the keyword meta tag
2. Just because we put a description, it doesn’t mean Google will show it. Most of the time, the description shown in another snippet from the page and not the one we put out. This is based on the user query.

Do I want to waste my time filling in meta description? For me it’s a no as Google is smart enough to pick up snippets that are relevant to the user query and show it to them.

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Jeffrey Trull July 31, 2013 at 12:43 pm

Adarsh,

I understand your points. But what if the page/post is targeted to a certain query, as Marcus shows above in his “hubspot vs wordpress” query above?

Even though there may be hundreds of other searches where this post shows up in search results but Google chooses a different description, I can see Marcus’ carefully crafted meta description being very useful for this specific search term.

I doubt Google would randomly pull something equally as good from the post if Marcus didn’t bother to specify a meta description.

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Marcus Sheridan August 1, 2013 at 12:05 am

Well said Jeffrey. To thank that Google can come close to doing it better than someone who states it exactly as someone would *want* to read it is simply not realistic.

Long live the human brain ;-)

Marcus

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Marcus Sheridan August 1, 2013 at 12:15 am

Hey Adarsh, appreciate the comment, but I think your point here lacks serious logic.

For example, let’s say a carefully crafted meta description leads to someone clicking on an article of mine. That “someone” happens to be Gary Vaynerchuk, who then tweets out the article to his million followers, causing a landslide of additional visits, more social shares, and possibly some inbound links.

Do you really think those things wouldn’t benefit SEO?

The difference between a meta description and a meta keyword is that readers SEE a description (usually), therefore it’s a means of influencing.

Meta keywords are seen by no one, which is why I, like you, don’t bother with them.

And regarding Google showing their own, again, most of the time they show what I’ve asked them to show, and this, although not 100%, makes it well worth doing w each new page or article.

Marcus

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John Gibb August 4, 2013 at 9:33 am

Marcus,

His point doesn’t lack just logic, but real evidence… Google said last year as I remember (in one of their updates) that for those webmastes who aren’t filling their meta description, they’ll be using snippets and content from that particular page to ensure there’s something in the SERP listings…

That’s all I can tell for now… and regarding meta keywords, they work. Google still counts them, I use meta keywords and Google suggestion key terms, often.

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Mack Collier July 31, 2013 at 9:54 am

Marcus this post is perfect timing for me as I am just starting to put a focus on writing meta descriptions for posts as I publish them. And I love your idea of using the meta description to highlight a PROBLEM you are solving. You’re right, that’s how most of us use search, to solve a problem.

The question I have is: Is it ok to go back and add meta descriptions to older posts? Like you, I am using the All-In-One SEO Pack plugin. Will it cause any problems if I start going back and adding meta descriptions to older posts?

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Craig McBreen July 31, 2013 at 1:02 pm

What Mack said ;)

Was going to craft a similar comment, but he did a much better job of it. just starting to put a focus on writing meta descriptions for posts (I should say “I will”), so I have the same question …

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Mack Collier July 31, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Ha, thanks Craig! Going back and changing/adding meta descriptions to older posts seems like a good idea. I am just concerned that Google might try to ‘ding’ us for doing that? As long as Google doesn’t see a problem with it, seems like a no-brainer to do it!

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Jordan J. Caron July 31, 2013 at 4:24 pm

Craig and Mark,

Changing your meta descriptions won’t change affect your rankings. When changing them I would go into your Google webmaster tools account and have those pages crawled again.

https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/1352276?hl=en

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Mack Collier July 31, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Hi Jordan! I get that changing meta descriptions won’t impact rankings, but I think Marcus’ point was that a well-written meta description WILL increase the chance of someone clicking on your site in search results.

And good call on asking Google to re-crawl the posts if changed!

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Marcus Sheridan July 31, 2013 at 11:59 pm

Absolutely Mack. I’ve had clients go back and change huge amounts of meta data before (except URL)–page titles and meta descriptions (assuming they had done them all wrong), and the measured results have been very, very powerful at times. Just as it’s good to update an outdated blog post, it’s good to update bad meta descriptions :-)

Marcus

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Craig McBreen August 7, 2013 at 7:32 pm

We’ll have to compare notes on the results ;)

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John Gibb August 4, 2013 at 9:39 am

hi Mack

As Marcus already answered you… changing the meta description will definitely improve your SERPs, as clicks you get (conversion from views to visits) will affect you moving up or down into the SERPs, and the time spent on the site (bounce rate)

A relevant, hype-free description will do wonders, just test it, don’t fret about what Google will think/do — that’s a shame. You own the site, not Google. We should be like smart investors, and don’t let our feelings interfere with our business/Google/investing approach.

I want to emphasize this because some friends of mine used to do OK with SEO, and after reading latest updates and checking the forums/blogs, they got a feeling that SEO is dead or not working like it used to… and you know what? This same feeling made them give up SEO (and their niche sites) completely…

Isn’t it a shame to believe some feelings instead of test-driving methods yourself and doing your own split-tests, and only then form a valid conclusion?

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Mack Collier August 4, 2013 at 9:44 am

Thanks John, that makes sense that more clicks would affect rankings. Another reason to write better meta descriptions. I’m on it!

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Craig McBreen August 7, 2013 at 7:25 pm

Thanks, John, this is great. Now it’s time to get busy ;)

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dave July 31, 2013 at 11:28 am

OK, I’m applying your advice to my top rated post. Here’s my new Marcus enhanced meta description: Looking for a complete Norwegian Breakaway Review? Norwegian Cruise Line recreates the benefits of a land resort at sea in my Norwegian Breakaway review.

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Marcus Sheridan August 1, 2013 at 12:09 am

Not bad at all Dave. I’d take it further with this:

“Looking for a complete review of Norwegian Breakaway? If so, this article will help you clearly understand…”

Just my opinion though ;-)

Marcus

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John Gibb August 4, 2013 at 9:45 am

Sure,

here’s another twist on this…

Maybe not all/most people are looking for a complete review but rather an honest review — here’s how I’d write it (and ensure it’s under 160 characters to fit within SERP listings)

“Looking for an honest Norwegian Breakaway review? If so, this article will help you clearly understand why…”

You should be adding “WHY” o “HOW TO” at the end to make reader even more curious…

Hope it helps?

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Scott Ayres July 31, 2013 at 11:29 am

Yeah it’s always hard to convey the message of the article in such a short snippet and still flows correctly.

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Marcus Sheridan August 1, 2013 at 12:07 am

It certainly can be Scott, which is exactly what starting w a question makes that way, way easier.

Marcus

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Video Broadcast Services July 31, 2013 at 11:37 am

Marcus, this is a great article on writing meta descriptions. I loved the slant on asking a question back to the person who is searching (Are you looking for….).

You mentioned the All-in-one SEO plugin to add custom meta descriptions for SERPs. Yoast has a great SEO plugin that also allows you to alter the meta descriptions further for social shares on Facebook and Google+.

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Marcus Sheridan August 1, 2013 at 12:07 am

Great point about Yoast….thank you!!!

Marcus

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Adam Dukes July 31, 2013 at 11:39 am

Awesome post! This is something I always seem to overlook. I spent an hour this morning going back through my blog posts updating my meta descriptions. Thank you pointing out this very important, but probably overlooked, part of writing a blog post.

I expect my CTRs to increase :) Thanks again, Mr. Sheridan!

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Marcus Sheridan August 1, 2013 at 12:06 am

Hats off to you Adam, way to take action my friend!

Marcus

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Jordan J. Caron July 31, 2013 at 12:31 pm

Marcus,

This is indeed something many businesses overlook. You’re trying to sell people on why they should click on your link. The trick is trying to add in your keyphrase (I like that since it’s all about the longtail!) and how you plan to help the searcher out in 160 characters.

A great clip in Art & Copy comes from a creative director at a big advertising agency. In his early days he was a door to door salesman. After someone opened the door he had only a couple of seconds to capture their attention and tell them how and why he was going to solve their problem.

The same can be said when someone sees one of your webpages in search result.

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Marcus Sheridan August 1, 2013 at 12:05 am

LOVE the analogy Jordan!!! :-)

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Marshall Ponzi July 31, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Thanks, Marcus-

Great formula. Will use it from now, on!

Too often people just insert the page / post title, if they include any meta description at all. (Yes, I’ve been guilty!) If you don’t write a description, Google will make one up, using random snippet of the page content; not always even the first 150 characters.

Meta descriptions may not boost page rank, but they sure will influence who clicks your link in search results.

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Marcus Sheridan August 1, 2013 at 12:01 am

That’s exactly it Marshall. And even if Google does draw out their own at times (I really wish they wouldn’t though) this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t grab control of the situation whenever possible.

Much thanks,

Marcus

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John Gibb August 4, 2013 at 9:50 am

yup!

I’d rather let Google use snippets off my article, if I wasn’t sure/good at writing the meta description myself… that’s why Google is doing this on sites which do not implement meta descriptions, or maybe do it badly…

Real marketers/bloggers/SEOs like to control their sites though… and be one step ahead others… including Google :)

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Chris Ripper July 31, 2013 at 2:51 pm

As always, you’re right on. We’re rewriting all of ours now, so your timing is great!

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Marcus Sheridan August 1, 2013 at 12:00 am

As always, thrilled to help Chris :-)

Marcus

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Mark July 31, 2013 at 3:56 pm

Question: Why have you truncated your own meta description in the Hubspot v. WordPress and Hubspot Consultant posts?

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Marshall Ponzi July 31, 2013 at 7:28 pm

Mark – I had the same question. I believe Google shows only up to 150 characters in the search results. I was wondering if the actual meta description was more than 150 and Google truncated it. Or, is the description written with the ellipses? … :-) That could be an interesting technique to say “read more”

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Mark July 31, 2013 at 7:33 pm

Marshall: I searched for the posts so I could check the source code. The ellipses appear in the source code, so it’s not Google’s doing. Could be the fault of All in One SEO Pack, if that’s what Marcus is using.

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Marcus Sheridan July 31, 2013 at 11:55 pm

Actually, it’s completely intentional, and I likely should have mentioned this in the article Mark, but I do that as almost a “tease” effect, as it leaves readers wanting more. Guess I should have discussed that in the post :-)

Marcus

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Marcus Sheridan July 31, 2013 at 11:56 pm

Hey Marshall, yep, I do those myself often times as it’s an effective “tease” and leaves the reader wanting more. As I mentioned to Mark, I should have discussed that in the post!

Thanks,

Marcus

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Michael July 31, 2013 at 5:39 pm

Working on launching a site now – very helpful to read this beforehand!

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Marcus Sheridan July 31, 2013 at 11:57 pm

Thrilled to help Michael!

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Andrea T.H.W. August 1, 2013 at 3:53 am

I obviously agree and this is one of the thing I should work on, one day or another, as some descriptions on my blog need a fix. Not really for Seo if for it we mean obeying G diktats as they change daily and it would be almost impossible to follow them consistently; but surely to have a bigger chance in having our articles read.

Btw there is probably another G update going on these days. Which makes me ask if their search engine is so good why they have to do updates continuously.

If only their aim would be to improve the goodness of their results.

Well, until readers will believe and use Google we’ll have to handle it, right? :)

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John Gibb August 4, 2013 at 9:53 am

hi Andrea

You have a great question here…

“if their search engine is so good why they have to do updates continuously. ”

I think (it’s my point of view) they do so (and I recall Matt Cutts saying this often) that they add updates to enhance their algorithm and at the same time fight spammers who build lousy content sites and get lousy links to rank in G and make money off of them.

Wouldn’t you do the same?

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Andrea T.H.W. August 4, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Hi John, probably yes, only that if you look at relevant results they haven’t improved that much so what’s the meaning of permanent updates? Bing resulta are much better and DuckDuckGo the same. If you are able to find results after all those above the fold ads they put at the first places.

You know, given that relevancy for them is more or less just a theory and since as a matter of facts these days they push freshness over quality so if ten years ago you wrote the best article in the world about something for Google is now c*ap my humble opinion is that at the end they just want to have bloggers and website owners going crazy following their diktats and updates until they simply surrender, use only G+ and buy a lot of paid traffic through AdWords.

Who would use G+ without the legend that it helps for SEO and ranking?

I might be wrong but this seems to me pretty probable. Which is why I don’t really optimize anymore my articles for Google, don’t care anymore about their traffic, which is like a drunken dancer, and move on to find alternative ways to get visits.

Going on this way they’ll end up like Yahoo so it’s just a matter of surviving until that day.

Imho.

Thanks for your kind answer. :)

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Mandy Allen @ Marketing Miniclasses August 1, 2013 at 8:00 am

Thanks for an inspiring post. I do love the idea of asking a question and giving the answer, not something I’ve really thought of before in the meta description. I generally use it to make a statement – I’m going to try this approach and see how it fares.

Enjoy the journey.

Mandy

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Iain August 1, 2013 at 8:23 am

I write custom meta descriptions for almost all my posts.

For some reason, I had never considered starting with a question in the description. I like the idea. It could easily spark someone’s interest.

I have an odd habit of seeing who wrote the posts, and if I know them I will chose them over other even if they are not ranked number 1.

Thanks for the awesome write up.

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Munna August 1, 2013 at 10:38 am

Nice post Lion. I always tried to write only keywords in the meta description , never write any empathy type question in the brginning of the MT. Thanks for this post.

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Jaesi (@jaesib) August 1, 2013 at 4:34 pm

I just realized I should be trying to do this with my blog posts. Have the topic be an answer to a common or popular question. Because half of the stuff I type into google are questions lol. It seems so obvious now.

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Josh Nadeau August 1, 2013 at 11:52 pm

Great post Marcus. I sound like a broken record, but my favorite plugin (among others) is Yoast. Even though it has a lot of automated features, I still feel it’s important to write each and every meta description manually. A bit time consuming, but at least I know what the search engines will show. Thanks again.

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trekking morocco August 2, 2013 at 7:56 am

As always, you’re right on. We’re rewriting all of ours now, so your timing is great!

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Seoth August 4, 2013 at 10:46 am

I have always had a touch ride whenever it came to writing meta descriptions for my blogs and sites but today, it all looks like I have found what I have been missing. Thanks for sharing! Keep Rocking!

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Adam Kielich@ employment lawyer dallas August 4, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Really good info. There’s a lot of talk about how meta tags aren’t important anymore but it’s still the way search results appear so they are really important towards getting people interesting in picking your site over others on the SERP.

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Jeff August 5, 2013 at 5:50 am

Thanks a lot for having this very helpful post here. Sometimes it’s really hard to decide what to put on the Meta Description, but this one makes it more clearer for us. Hope i can have more ideas here.

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James August 5, 2013 at 4:00 pm

I have to say that for a beginner it is very hard to cope with all different information and tips out there.

I have actually narrowed my interest in few blogs which talk about seo and content marketing.

One is this blog and the others are copyblogger and quicksprout.
If you don’t narrow what you read you will only go very far down the rabbit hole.

James

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Mitch August 6, 2013 at 1:23 am

Hey Marcus ,
this is an excellent article.
Meta descriptions will be the first piece of information that an online searcher will see when they search for something,
and i know Google likes fresh recent news and updates but if I keep changing my Meta descriptions again and again, can it make any bad impression on search engines?

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Marcus Sheridan August 13, 2013 at 10:14 pm

As far as I’m aware Mitch, changing it (assuming it’s a better meta description) is only good. So give it a whirl my friend!

Marcus

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Chris Huntley August 9, 2013 at 1:08 am

Hey Marcus,
I haven’t checked in for a while but I’ve been reading.

Quick question: Do you know if there’s a tool (I don’t think it’s in G Analytics) that allows you to see how many impressions you’re getting for a page/post on your site?

This way, we could easily see which pages are getting the fewest clicks per impression, and know which ones need the most work (although the ranking on the page may screw up the helpfulness of this tool). It’s just a thought.

Thanks for another great post. I’m gonna go rewrite some descriptions now.

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Marcus Sheridan August 13, 2013 at 10:09 pm

Chris, really sorry for my slow response on this one bud. When you say “impressions,” are you referring to total views? Obviosly, GA does that, but I’m guessing you’re referring to something else.

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Helson Aksesoris Mobil August 9, 2013 at 11:28 pm

Nice share. I also has a problem in writing meta description. I can improve my meta description .

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Andrew Wilson August 12, 2013 at 5:58 am

Meta description have a great impact on seo. Most of the people can’t write meta description rightly. It was really awesome post. This tips can help us to write meaningful meta description. Thanks.

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Sani August 12, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Great explanation of Meta descriptions and how important they can be. Thanks for sharing.

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Michael Taylor August 15, 2013 at 5:38 am

Marcus, thanks for the useful tips. I love articles like this that are mixed in with your other awesome content. I am fairly new at blogging and SEO. Small tech tips like this are invaluable for us newbies. Thanks again.

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Johnny Bravo August 16, 2013 at 3:54 am

Thanks for the tips Marcus. Very well done. A question I have. And apologies if someone already asked this (I didn’t read all 69 comments). What do you think about creating a bit of mystery in the meta description? Meaning you give a synopsis of what is in the post but intentionally make it a little long so you get the … (like in your first example). Do you think that works to draw more people in?

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Marcus Sheridan August 20, 2013 at 12:04 am

I intentionally put the “…” in all the time Johnny, so yeah, it’s a good idea…I think we’ll dub it the “meta tease” ;-)

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Ziga August 19, 2013 at 9:01 am

This is realy a useful information…been doing it wrong for a long time! Thx

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Marcus Sheridan August 19, 2013 at 11:48 pm

Thrilled to help!

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Wade Harman August 24, 2013 at 12:20 am

I’ve also thought that the meta description needs to be along the same lines as your permalink? Keywords are important in both of these, and you can find a way to write a meta description and make it interesting while still having your keyword in there. Btw, your second image is broken. Good one Marcus!

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Naveen August 24, 2013 at 8:24 am

Great advice Marcus,

I think meta descriptions are one of the overlooked aspects when we publish blog posts. It’s really important to pay attention to these.

Your post made me to take an action plan for my next blog post.

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Gowtham September 20, 2013 at 3:18 am

@Marcus

Thanks for the insight. I’m in the process of building an e-commerce website. Do you think having data in the meta description that keeps changing every now and then is good for SEO.

An example of my description will look something like,

“Read the complete review of PRODUCT_NAME. The lowest price of the product is PRICE_LOW sourced from STORE_NUM online stores newly updated.”

Now the values, PRODUCT_NAME, STORE_NUM, & PRICE_LOW keeps changing as the content in the page changes.

Do you think it’s a good thing or a bad thing?

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Carl October 22, 2013 at 10:18 am

Marcus, this is great information I’ve been using the AIDA formula when writing meta descriptions ( attract,interest,desire,action ) but the character restrictions on META tags mean it doesn’t appear to work as well, this is great content marketing theres a load of useful information in this article

Carl

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Roshan Virk December 13, 2013 at 5:16 pm

Hey Marcus,

I was directed here from Jordan’s blog post at Meaningful Marketing.

Just wanted to say thanks for the tips on how to write better meta descriptions. Our website hasn’t done as well as we’d like so we’re always looking at getting more people to our site. We hope to get better click throughs thanks to your tips.

Looking forward to following your blog.

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Rachid January 2, 2014 at 10:49 am

Great Post. thank you for tips Marcus. Happy New Year.

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Ron Woods January 18, 2014 at 9:16 pm

I don’t mean to necro your post, I just wanted to say thank you for this article! You were a total lifesaver for me. I am new to blogging, and I had no idea where to even begin on how to write a decent meta tag. Thanks to your article, I was able to get a start on writing a few up.

This post will now be my sticky note to look back on when I need help writing a meta description. Thanks again so much! I really appreciate it!

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Danielle February 7, 2014 at 6:37 am

Thanks for the info. My meta tags that were written 4 years ago have all been deleted so looking for new info the write them all again :(

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Muji March 12, 2014 at 9:30 am

But i want some syntax :(

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Jhoveleen May 16, 2014 at 3:31 pm

Thanks for this excellent article. I am just started trying to learn SEO and by now it seems my mind is getting puzzled. Could you recommend a learning site for Novice to learn SEO easily?

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Sonia May 23, 2014 at 7:39 pm

Marcus,
Thank you so much for this great article. Best one I’ve found that breaks it down to the very human component that we need! I am new to all of this and I love the way you’ve explained it.

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Christine Wokowsky July 9, 2014 at 4:42 pm

I think I’ve just stumbled across my new favorite SMM guru! And yes, I think lions are very cool. Loved these tips. Short, sweet and definitely to the point. Question: are meta words and focus keyword the same thing? I noticed your answer to one comment you said you never use them as waste of time and no one ever sees them.

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