Best Practices for Understanding & Writing Metadata (Video)

These claims, although compelling in many cases, do not all correlate to an exact counterpoint that Google does use click-through rate in its algorithm. Instead, we at Exposure Ninja consider that Google is instead paying more attention to how well browsers respond to the content it ranks well.

Best Practices for Understanding & Writing Metadata (Video)

Whenever you enter a search term into a search engine, you are presented with several different types of information on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). While you may be faced with ads, local listings, and shopping or image suggestions, the bulk of any search engine results page will be made up of metadata.

Each search result within a SERP will be broken down into two main sections: meta-titles (also known as title tags) and meta-descriptions (also called snippets). In this article, we’ll break down the best practices for writing both meta-descriptions and meta-titles.

Characteristics of a good meta description

1. Keep it up to 155 characters

The right length doesn’t really exist; it depends on the message you want to convey. You should take enough space to get the message across, but keep it short and snappy at the same time. However, if you check the search results in Google, you’ll mostly see snippets of 120 to 156 characters, like in the example below.

Unfortunately, we can’t fully control what Google displays in the search results. Sometimes it decides to show the meta description, and sometimes it just grabs some sentences of your copy. Either way, your best bet is to keep it short. That way, if Google does decide to show the meta description you’ve written, it won’t be cut short.

2. Use active voice and make it actionable

If you consider the meta description the invitation to your page, you have to think about your user and their (possible) motivation to visit your page. Make sure that your description isn’t dull, difficult or too cryptic. People need to know what they can expect to find on your page.

3. Include a call-to-action

“Hello, we have such and such new product, and you want it. Find out more!” This overlaps with what we said about the active voice, but we wanted to emphasize it once again. The meta description is your sales text. Except, in this case, the “product” you are trying to sell is the page that is linked. Invitations like Learn more, Get it now, Try for free come in handy and we use them too.

4. Use your focus keyword

If the search keyword matches a part of the text in the meta description, Google will be more inclined to use it and highlight it in the search results. This will make the link to your site even more inviting. Google sometimes even highlights synonyms. In the example below, both the Academy Awards and Oscars are highlighted. Getting your results emphasized like that makes them stand out even more.

5. Show specifications, where possible

If you have a product in your Shopify or WooCommerce store aimed at the tech-savvy, it can be a good idea to focus on the technical specs. For example, you can include the manufacturer, SKU, price, things like that. If the visitor is specifically looking for that product, chances are you won’t have to convince them. As in the example below. The watch can help us stay fit? Sign us up, that’s all we needed to know. Note that to optimize your result in this manner, you should work on getting rich snippets.

6. Make sure it matches the content of the page

This is an important one. Google will find out if you use the meta descriptions to trick visitors into clicking on your result. They might even penalize you if you do it. But besides that, misleading descriptions will probably also increase your bounce rate. Which will also lower people’s trust in your company. It’s a bad idea for that reason alone. That is why you want the meta description to match the content on the page.

7. Make it unique

Adding the date to the snippet preview

People often ask questions about the date shown in the Google preview of our Yoast SEO plugin. We’ve added this because search engines may display a date with your snippet. So it’s important to factor it in when you decide on the right length of your meta description. Unfortunately, there’s no way to directly control whether this date is shown or not, but you can try to manage the dates they use in the search results.

If your meta description is the same as those for other pages, the user experience in Google will be hampered. Although your page titles might vary, all pages will appear to be the same because all the descriptions are the same. Instead of creating duplicate meta descriptions, you’d be better off leaving it blank. Google will pick a snippet from the page containing the keyword used in the query. That being said, writing a unique meta description for every page you want to rank with is always the best practice.

How to Optimise Page Titles and Meta Descriptions

Before you learn how to abide by the best practices of writing new page titles and meta descriptions, we first want to highlight some additional metadata writing tips to keep in mind that will help separate your titles and descriptions from those of your competitors who follow the standard guidance in other “how to write page titles and meta description” guides.

Optimise for the SERPs’ Appearance

Google is continually trying to show the right SERP design for each search query, so if you write a page title or meta description that doesn’t match how Google is going to show the results, you’re helping your competitors by making their job of earning the click easier to do.

Optimise for Search Intent

If you’re not sure which types of words of intent your customers may be using, the following list covers many of the most commonly used words. Try matching them up with the keyword phrases you’re most concerned with ranking well in Google for, but also try questioning your current customers about the questions they had before purchasing your products or services.

Use Unique Selling Points (USPs)

In the example below, there is a list of keywords that we may find useful for our own plumbing clients, some of which we may not have considered during our keyword research process. These include the following:

If companies are willing to spend money on those words and phrases, it’s safe to assume that they’re the right type of keywords for triggering a response from the searcher. This also suggests that they’re profit-generating keywords too.

Use Psychological Triggers

You can communicate your messages in different ways, and there are several great studies and blog posts on the impact they have on CTRs. CoSchedule’s “How To Write A Call To Action In A Template With 6 Examples” explains how useful the process can be on a wider scale. One of the most useful posts of all is the “380 High Emotion Words Guaranteed to Make You More Persuasive” by the delightful Bushra of The Persuasion Revolution.


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