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Meta Descriptions: What are they, Why You need them, and How to add them

Google is like a librarian. We tell the librarian what we’re looking for, and he/she searches in the blurbs about the books (think: back of the book summary) using keywords related to what I’m looking for.  The librarian quickly pulls the books that are most relevant to my topic and hands those to me. Google does the same thing only with meta descriptions and digital sources. 

Meta descriptions are like the backs of the books: Enough of a summary to make me want to open the book. Without them, we either can’t find the “book” (i.e., the link) at all online, or we can’t tell if the link is worth the click. 

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • How meta descriptions help your articles gain traffic
  • What are the key elements to remember when writing your descriptions
  • How to add meta descriptions to your site (hint: we use Yoast and have a blog post on how to install it) 

 

RESOURCES: 

WPW: https://raneydaydesign.com/how-to-add-a-meta-description-to-a-website-page/

SEO podcast: Take SEO for your site a step further: https://raneydaydesign.com/podcast/the-four-fundamentals-of-seo/

 

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If Google was a Librarian…meta descriptions are like the backs of the books. Enough of a summary to make me want to open the book

-- Jennifer Sakowski

Podcast Transcript

Hello, Jennifer Sakowski here with a brand new episode of Raney Day Talks Podcast. Y’all, I’m so excited you’re here. We have been talking all about SEO, and keyword research, and all of those different elements within our Facebook community and our weekly reviews that I send out to our customers. And I thought, “Oh my goodness. We need to talk about this on the podcast.”

If you are someone who manages your own content, your own site, your own business, I know this will be super helpful, because what’s SEO all about? Right? It’s organically ranking your site. You want to get it found when somebody sits down and types in your business or asks a question, and it’s related to you and the services you provide, you want your posts and your website to show up.

Today I’m going to give you one major nugget on some good old fashioned SEO tip. And that is, meta descriptions. All of your pages and blog posts that you would like to rank and to draw traffic to, you want to add meta descriptions.

What the heck is this meta description? I know that’s what you’re thinking. And if you just went glassy eyed on me please stay with me, because this is important. And this is going to be short, sweet, and actionable. What is this meta description?

I’m going to paint you a picture, right? On how this works. Let’s say that I am going to the library and that librarian, their name is Google. And I ask Google, “How do I plant a garden?” And so, Google takes that sentence, that question, that query, breaks it down into keywords and they go and they look through all of their records, and all of their articles, and all the resources that they have in the library, and they are pulling out information that they deem relevant to my question.

And one of the things that they look for, is this quick description on the back of the book. Just stay with me. And so, in that quick description they’re looking for the keywords that I ask about how to plant a garden, and when they find those words in that description they pull that book and that resource to the top of the list.

Now, this is kind of a very broad description of how this works, but that’s how it is. And then Google takes the most relevant that they deem helpful and they bring it back to me, and the librarian says, “Here Jen, here you go. Here’s the most relevant information. You asked about this question and these are the articles that we think that would be helpful for you.”

And they did that by looking at the description. It helped them go through quickly all of these articles, because that article itself, it served up information to help the librarian to quickly grab what they’re looking for. That’s kind of what a meta description does. It summarizes what the user or visitor that comes to that post, that they can find.

It’s usually when somebody Googles an article and it’s under the list on Google, it’s under the main title and you’ll see that description. That little mini description. And people like you and me that come to Google to ask that, we would really use the title and then that mini description to think, “Oh, is this really what I’m looking for? Can I find what I need here?” And then we click on the article.

The more helpful that we can be and summarize, and using keywords in that meta description, actually helps in a positive way to bring your content forward. That’s why it’s important. That’s it. And if you’ve enjoyed that librarian description please ping with me and just hit me up with librarian, and I’ll know what you’re talking about, because that came to me while I was preparing for this podcast.

How do we add a description to your blog post or page? The first thing that I want you to do is, before I send you somewhere in the show notes, I first want to tell you about what makes a good meta description.

And there are plugins, and we even use Yoast, and there are several others that we have used on our client sites. It helps us as a guide, because they are really great about SEO and all those different components about a post that need to be met to get that little green indicator, or that light to turn green.

And so, I want to let you know we’ll talk more about how to add that plugin to your site later, and I even have a article completely step by step on how to do that, and where to grab it, and how to install it. But before we do, let’s talk about what are the elements of a good meta description.

First of all, it’s the link. Please, shoot for 140 to 160 characters, because that is just enough meat that it fills that gap when your article comes up on Google and it has all those search queries, it fills that gap and it also helps Google pull out the relevant information.

The more that you can think about when somebody is going to come to the site, what would be helpful for them to know, that will set your post ahead or above the others. Make sure that you include the keyword or phrase. That’s a no brainer. We just have to say it.

And make sure that the meta description, you do not duplicate it. You don’t want to duplicate meta descriptions across the home page, and your about page, and your contact page. They might seem irrelevant but they’re not. And so, make sure that you’re changing the wording and the text for those, because it will actually have a negative impact on your search results and how Google ranks you, if you duplicate a ton of content. And it’s confusing. Right?

Once again, if you go back to the library and they’re pulling out articles that have the same different articles, but the same description on the back of their book, they’re not going to know what to do with that. Right? Google’s like, “Well, I’m going to throw those out and look for something else.”

And I’m not saying Google does that, but ideally in the big picture of what we’re talking about that’s what happens. You want to be super, super helpful and be clear. Don’t overthink it. Number one goal is to fill out and add meta descriptions. Number two is just to think through about if you were sitting across from your ideal customer what would you tell them before you handed them this article. Think of it that way.

Those are the elements that make up a good meta description. And so, then once you have that I want you to utilize these free plugins on your WordPress site. If you haven’t already, look in the show notes, grab the link on how to add a meta description to your website page. It’s one of our recent WordPress Wednesdays, because In it we link off to Yoast plugin, and then we walk you through how to install it.

And if you ever get stuck, obviously ping us, but I want you to remember that this is a component of many that are factors in getting your site ranked, but it’s very important and it’s super helpful. And it’s free to do, so why wouldn’t you?

Because if you had come to me and contacted Raney Day Design and asked for help with SEO we would run this massive audit, and that’s one thing that we look for. Do you have meta descriptions? Are they relevant to those post or pages? Are they maximizing what we know that they should be doing to write those meta descriptions?

I hope that was helpful. It was very short and impactful, but I want to make sure that if you’re managing your content, that you’re not missing out. Hope you guys have a great rest of your day.