Why … Meta Descriptions?
Aren’t meta descriptions basic, boring SEO 101?
Answer: I see a LOT of terrible, mindlessly written meta descriptions out there.
Take … Macy’s for example:
Yet, there are 18 million … eighteen million searches a month for ‘macys’.
Think of all the ad dollars brands spend in the name of ‘messaging’ (print, TV, slogans, etc), to then let 18 million of your customers see that.
That’s right, this post has nothing to do with rankings yet everything to do with branding. More specifically, the space between SEO, Advertising and branding. A place that’s not always easy to “measure” but deep in your gut you know it matters.
And the little, innocuous, yet huge message those 156 characters send.
Day after day after day.
For the full in depth experience, watch this video. You don’t have to, but you may miss a few nuances.
Click to view a MUCH BIGGER picture of the whiteboard here!
(I used the camera on my MacBook Pro, and will perhaps upgrade soon).
The Qualities Of A Great Brand Meta Description
Talked about in the video, they are:
- They make your customer the ‘HERO’ (ie: hero’s journey).
- They support your brand messaging, and align with other mediums (ads, print, social media)
- They just sound/feel good and match your brand tone.
The Three Ingredients Of A Better Meta Description
There’s three common elements in all of business copywriting, that can also be used in descriptions:
- Your customer’s problem
- Your businesses’ solution
- The outcome – both in results and emotion.
Here’s a handy cheat-sheet with the three ingredients that I think make a great meta description:
Inspiring Meta Descriptions Of 15 Brands
These are not all perfect, but they do all have elements of making the customer the hero. The spirit of that is the most important part.
I’ll leave some quick comments below, but check out the video for more analysis.
(By the way, huge thanks to Anthony Pensebene here at Evolving for helping to find some of these!)
“Sell more stuff” is a clear simple description of what MailChimp can help you achieve.
Slack leads with the Outcome – “brings all your communication together”.
“Run your entire business” is a great way to illustrate the actual outcome of “project management”.
Ironically, I should note that the use of the words “you” and “your” etc are a great way to position your copy to make your reader the Hero.
YouTube, of all sites of course, does this well – “enjoy the music you love”.
I wish Bing’s search engine was indeed as good as this description!
6. SEER Interactive
Wil and the folks at SEER do a pretty awesome job with this! I’d say it indirectly approaches “outcome” by stating what they believe. But also, it could go a little more in the direction of being customer focused in it’s language.
7. Lonely Planet
“You perfect trip” – is a nice personal touch.
“Start your next adventure” – Marriott sells hotel rooms but they understand the real thing the consumer wants is the full experience of travel.
“Feel at home” – Nice! It’s rare any brand involves an emotional outcome (the holy grail!) but Airbnb pulls it off.
9.1 Airbnb Update
Even better – Airbnb seems to test or update descriptions! Too bad they took out the emotion, but this description is still very centered on the consumer.
Snapchat isn’t a “messaging app” (product) it let’s you “talk with friends” (outcome).
“Get paid faster”. “Run your business”. Both outcomes for the user.
One of my favorites, and in the video above. Again a rare use of emotion in the outcome. You’re not just buying cloths, you’re going to feel more confident and be the best you.
A surprising one from Big Lots. Come on ya’ll if Big Lots can do it…
Simple, but “find surprises” is not a product or service, but the experience one feels when shopping there (at least as they claim).
Not in the top 5 of the 15 listed, but at least they are using “You’ll” and “Find your style solutions”.
“Your friend with a car”. Lyft is selling you on the people not the service.
What Not To Do! 3 Examples
I think you can really feel the contrast in a good description vs a bad one, by checking out some poor examples.
As shown in the video. Macy’s is pretty much just … product, product, product, free shipping, product…
NO showing of an understanding of the customer’s problem or outcome.
I’m honestly surprised. Disney of all companies should be able to incorporate story, so this goes contrary to their brand.
Why “the official website”? It’s 2017, I think anyone who sees “disney.com” (brand.com) knows it’s the official site. Wasted characters.
And Match, of all sites – this should be an easy one. Maybe they are trying to be neutral but all they are doing here is listing product features.
The New Evolving SEO Meta Description
Taking my own advice, I updated our meta description!
This was the old one:
Pretty bad. Maybe worse than Macy’s. I don’t think I’d even updated it since 2011, or maybe 2013 at best.
Annndddddd…. the new one:
I don’t think it’s totally perfect (“be more successful online” still seems weak – if anyone has any suggestions, I’m all ears). But much better than before.
Don’t Let Those 156 Characters Be An Afterthought
They matter – especially if you’re a medium to bigger sized brand! Being even small. Maybe 100-200 people search my homepage may show in search a few hundred times a month. But now that I’ve realized how to convey the right message, I care about showing that to users.
Show your customers that you care. Use that little space in search engines to reinforce your message.
Brands spend million on ad impressions, I don’t think a few words are much to ask.
Share Examples Below!
Do you have any examples of great brand meta descriptions to share?
Leave them in the comments.