What are meta tags? What’s a meta description? Pretty hard to know you’re creating effective ones if you’re not sure what they are.
In the vast world of SEO, meta descriptions are an important component that can be tricky – but necessary – to create. Meta tags are HTML elements that provide information about a web page for SEO purposes and for visitors. Found in the <head> section of an HTML document (like a web page), the two main pieces are the Title Tag and Meta Description.
What is a meta description?
What we’ll focus on here – the meta description – is the short paragraph (or snippet) of information that appears under the page’s url in the description, or alongside the link when someone shares it.
To add the meta description, you’ll write something that looks like this:
<meta name=”description” content=”Here is a short summary of why this page is awesome.”>
You most likely have total control of your meta description in your CMS, especially if you use WordPress. Otherwise, you might use a plug-in like Yoast, and you can add the info to the “meta description” section. You can also preview it in most plug-ins.
The main reason to care about meta descriptions is that they’re the one piece of information someone has to use in deciding whether or not to click through to your page. It’s how potential clients will make the decision to view your web page, or keep scrolling.
How to write good meta descriptions
You see why they’re important – now how do you make sure you’re creating impactful meta descriptions? Even law firms can create compelling meta descriptions that will generate clicks, here’s our guide on how to get started:
- Include a keyword – Make sure you do your research and include a keyword in the description. Meta descriptions should include the keyword that you are trying to optimize the page for. You’ll often notice these words or phrases highlighted in descriptions when searching.
- Write readable copy that sounds human – Though keywords are important, don’t stuff your description. That looks spammy and is unlikely to help you in any way. Just write an honest and simple description of what your URL will provide.
- Think of meta descriptions as tiny advertisements – go for compelling, relevant, and appealing. The content needs to match what the description says it is, but remember that no one will click on something that doesn’t seem interesting or helpful.
- Length – Keep the description between 130 and 300 characters long. If it’s longer, the end of your sentence is likely to be chopped off when the description is presented.
- Don’t copy and paste – Google will notice duplicate descriptions and penalize you in search results. Don’t simply use the same description on multiple pages in one website section, for example. Each page should have its own designated keyword anyway.
- Rich snippets can make a difference – Consider schema markup to add elements that make your description pop. Star ratings or client ratings could set your law firm apart from others that appear in search.
Here’s an example of a good and bad meta description for a firm positioning themselves as the “best law firm in Philadelphia”.
Search term: best law firm in Philadelphia
Good Meta Description: Award-winning lawyers with 100 years of combined experience make Cool Legal Guys the best law firm in Philadelphia. Call today for help with what’s worrying you.
Bad Meta Description: Once synonymous with sharks and ambulance-chasing, the lawyers in our firm earn respect through experience and trust.
The good description includes the search term, has some selling points, ends with a call to action, and is short enough to be read. The bad one doesn’t even include the search term, and leads with a negative point (starting off with the bad things lawyers may do isn’t exactly a way to bring in clients!). They may have been trying to be clever and catchy, but missed the point of the meta description.
While law firms can create compelling meta descriptions, we know it’s not easy. If this isn’t something you think about all day long, it can feel cumbersome. That’s why we’re here! Follow along on our blog for digital tips and tricks, or reach out to us with specific questions.