How To Write Meta Descriptions (for creatives who don't want to)
I already know you don’t want to read this. I know you don’t care tuppence about how to write meta descriptions. You’d rather get back to the making. But just before you do…
Did you know that a decent meta description could bring more eyeballs to whatever it is you make?
“Yeah, yeah”, you say with that dismissive flick of your arm that creative types do so well. “I don’t even know what a meta thingy is and I'm not bothered”. Well just give me a couple of sentences and I’ll explain. I PROMISE it won’t be dull and you WILL understand it.
Say your niece’s birthday is coming up. She’s an adventurous, outdoor type with a love of yellow so you google ‘kids yellow backpack’ thinking it will make a good present for her. Google brings up a list of results, lots of titles with a couple of lines of text underneath each one. Those lines of text? That’s a meta description.
So why should I care about meta descriptions?
You should care because well-written meta descriptions are like invitations to people searching for stuff. They won’t directly help you to get found in search (that’s a job for your keywords and titles), BUT if your listing comes up and you have a description to match that sounds enticing and sounds like the answer to whatever your searcher went searching for, then BOOM! Those fingers click through onto your product listing. More people looking at what you do. Google noticing more clicks going through to your site and making a note in it’s mysterious algorithm that your description is providing value to people. That’s why you care.
What makes a good meta description?
The best descriptions give you a true overview of the page that’s engaging to read as well as giving you a reason to click. Here's a great example...
This result tells you about LCB Depot. Immediately you learn what it is and where it is. The next sentence tells you what kind of people it's for. The words 'enterprise' and 'enterprising' both come up in close proximity to one another, which tells you exactly the kind of person they want to identify with this space. The description of a 'hub' makes us feel like this is the heart of something, a place of energy and activity, a place where things happen (and I can tell you that I work here and that's true!)
Next you find out specifically how LCB depot can help it's target audience. It's setting out to solve the problem that so many creatives have - isolation - by providing a meeting place, workspaces and hub with cafe for networking. All this in just three sentences.
How do I write a good meta description for my brand?
1 | Say what you do and who it's for
Be clear up front and tell people what you do and who it's for. Customers are going to identify with that, and if they don't that's fine too since we're after quality traffic that has a real interest in what we're up to, not just any old traffic we can get. How about these for examples -
"Miss Paperclip - colourful, design-led office goods for the modern stationery addict."
"Ruffles and Poms make paper hats, baking kits and decor for kids who like to party."
2 | Invite the reader to DO something
Make your next sentence the invitation, the call to action. You can use words to get that customer one step closer to you. Don't leave them hanging, actually invite them in. In the case of the first example above, something like this might work...
"Browse our distinctive ranges for stand-out style to seize the day."
These words aren't talking to a middle-aged man who likes golf, they're for a girl-about-town who needs to organise the diary for her next nail appointment. We're choosing the words that are going to help her to recognise herself. Then we invite her to take action with the words "browse our distinctive range."
3 | Always, ALWAYS think about your customer first
Remember, you're always, always writing for your customer first and not for yourself. For the kind of gift products that so many creative businesses make, the "bargain-prices-sale-ending-soon!" approach is not going to increase your click rate or appeal to the kind of things that your customer really values. You need to think (or ask them) what it is that really matters to them (how they look, their status, their reputation?) and work it into your description.
How do I write a good meta description for my product?
In the same way as for your brand, concentrate on the things that customers really value about the product. Appeal to the way it will make them feel or define what problem it will truly get to the heart of for them.
Practical tips for meta descriptions on NOTHS, Etsy and Wordpress
If you have a shop on NOTHS then there's a special box to write your description in when you go in to edit your storefront. Etsy's blog tells you that it uses the first 160 characters of your product listing as the result it will bring up on a search page. (In actual fact, Google has recently extended the length of meta descriptions to be up to 320 characters so you can pack more info in). For your shop, Etsy will use your shop announcement (at least that's what they say... my own experiments here were not always consistent....) If you write a blog in Wordpress then you should definitely get the Yoast plugin which will help you to craft a 'snippet' or description around your blog post.
The truth is that we don't have control over what Google brings up around search. However, we do have a chance to impact it by writing decent descriptions rather than letting it pick info on our behalf. That might not do our products or brand justice or come across as engaging enough to get a searcher to click.
When all's said and done...
Stepping back and seeing your brand objectively and trying to work out which things are the most important to your customer isn't always easy to do. Ask a trusted business peer or writer for help and keep returning to hone what you've written. If you really don't know where to start then the best thing you can do is ask one of your customers what it is that really appeals about your brand and take it straight from the horse's mouth.
What do you find the hardest thing about trying to use SEO for your handmade business? Let me know in the comments!