Why Descriptions Matter
Your description is the major deciding factor on whether or not your blog post gets clicked on when listed in a search engine results page.
It doesn't matter if you have phenomenal content -- if you don't have a killer description to go along with it, your post is sunk (organic traffic wise).
When someone searches a keyword, they're looking for a solution to their problem. Consequently, they’re only going to click on the listing that they know will provide the solution they need.
How do they know if that listing is right for them?
They read the description, and judge the rest of the article by that. If your description is dry, boring or (worst of all) irrelevant, then the Googler will assume the same about your entire blog post.
On the other hand, if it’s relevant, eye-catching, and captivating, the searcher will be clicking just as fast as they can.
How to Write a Description That Gets Clicked
Alright: searchers want answers. So how do you convince them to click on your headline?
Entice them with the solution. Tell them that you'll give them exactly what they want they click.
So in essence, the driving force behind a click-generating, high-ranking description is the way you identify the problem and state the solution.
The basic format of a successful description:
identify the problem ---> state that you provide the solution & call-to-action
Identify the Problem
Let's work through the example of this blog post's description. I identified the problem with the first sentence:
Meta descriptions decide whether or not your article gets clicked in a SERP.
By hinting at the potential possibility that a bad meta description could negatively impact SEO, I identified the problem and made them anxious for the solution.
State that You Provide the Solution & Call-to-Action
Now that you have the reader worried about what will happen if they leave the problem unsolved, you can now explain that by clicking on your post, they'll find the solution they are looking for.
The latter part of my description looks like this:
Click here to learn how to write a sensational description that gets clicked.
Notice how I stated the benefit (getting clicks), the opposite of the possible negative effect identified earlier. I have now given my readers two reasons to read my article:
- Not reading it could negatively affect their SEO.
- Reading it could positively affect their SEO.
Additionally, I told them exactly what they need to do to get what they want: click on my listing (the call-to-action).
Other Criteria to Keep in Mind
Contrary to popular belief, Google doesn't measure descriptions by characters; the search engine instead cuts off descriptions after a certain width in pixels.
On average, the pixel length is the equivalent of 153-156 characters (including spaces). Anything more than that gets cut off with an ellipses, like this[...]. In short, keep your descriptions under 156 characters (mine is pushing it at 155).
Additionally, your meta description can also directly affect your SEO.
One of the ways Google measures a webpage's relevancy to a particular keyword is by if and how many times the keyword is mentioned in the meta description.
What I like to do is mention the primary keyword once in the beginning, and then use a shorter version/synonym/LSI keyword closer to the end of the 156 characters.
With this post's description, I did just that with meta description in the beginning and just description at the end.
Here are a couple examples of great descriptions: