It’s said that you have just 7 seconds to make a first impression and when it comes to your online business, those few moments could be the difference between a web searcher going through to your website or one of your competitors.

Meta descriptions are your chance at a first impression and it’s vital your metas tell your audience that your online business has solution to their problems and desires.

Below I have explained precisely what meta descriptions are and given you a fool-proof formula to make sure you’re writing winning metas for your online business.

Recommended reading: SEO Basics in 2018

What are meta descriptions?

Meta descriptions are summaries that appear in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). They are designed to tell the searcher what a particular web page is about, so that they know what to expect before they visit it.

Many of these snippets are solely text…


Credit: Google

However, YouTube’s meta descriptions can also include video content…

Credit: Google

Previously it was thought that meta descriptions should keep to a 155 character limit. However, Google confirmed at the end of 2017 that it changed how it displays metas in its SERPS, meaning that they can now be in excess of 300 characters.

Why are meta descriptions important?

Meta descriptions have previously been an absolutely vital SEO weapon. And while they still play an important role in on-page SEO, the real value they offer to your business is as a click-through and conversion tool.

Your meta descriptions are an opportunity for you to convince users that your online business provides the outcome they sought from the search they made – they’re the advertisement for the website for your business.

Winning formula: three simple words will be your savior

The formula for good meta descriptions for your business can be summed up in three words: problem, solution, outcome. This is how you can use those three words to save you a ton of time.


Even the best salesperson is impotent if the product you’re trying to sell to your customer has no relevance to them – I need to want it.

Your meta description needs to be aware of the problem that your audience has and make them immediately aware of this. Take this search for “guitar” as an example…

Credit: Google

I’ve not given Google much help, but this online business knows the chances are that my problem is I want to buy a guitar. It’s a fair guess and they got straight for the jugular by letting me know straight away that they have any type of guitar I could want.


Showing me you’re aware of my problem gets my attention, but in order for your meta description to do its job you must tell me how you’re going to solve my problem – how can you meet my needs?

Using our earlier example, I’m given a pretty clear solution…

Credit: Google

Our selected online business has the whatever type of guitar I could need and they’re available. Great.


To close the deal and convince me to buy from your business, I need to be able to picture myself once I’ve committed to the solution on offer by your online business – how is my life improved?

Returning to Gear4music one last time, our hero’s meta description leaves me under no illusion…

Credit: Google

After visiting Gear4music’s online store I will have my perfect guitar, in short, everything that I wanted – it’s a call-to-action that is simple and direct, but undemanding.

Applying this formula of problem of problem, solution, outcome will save you a ton of time when you’re writing your meta descriptions because it gives you a clear and ordered strategy.

Not only will it save you time, it will also add value to your meta descriptions by giving your audience a reason to click-through to your online business and then complete the buyer journey.

Tactics to underpin this winning formula

My formula gives you a simple and swift method of crafting winning meta descriptions. But it’s not all that you need to think about: there are a few tactics that you should use to underpin it.

Include a call-to-action

Your meta description is your SERPs sales team and it closes the deal by getting the searchers to visit your website. This is where your call-to-action comes in.

Action is the operative word, you need to get your searchers to do something. So use language that encourages them to do just this: find, visit, access. You may also want include an offer, such as “free 15-day trial!

Finally, include your call-to-action at the end of your meta description so that it’s the last thing your searcher sees and the first thing they do after reading your meta.

Do your keyword research

While I said earlier that the value your meta description is as a conversion tool, not an SEO weapon, that is not to say that you should forget about optimization.

Keywords remain hugely important to your online business. You must know which keywords are relevant to your business, and then make sure that you incorporate them naturally into your meta description.

Make a winning title tag your partner

Your meta description isn’t a lone ranger: it works together with your title tag to tell your searchers that your web page provides the answer to the question(s) posed by their search.

Your title tag must be punchy, immediate, and relevant to the description that you include in your meta – if the two are contradictory your searches won’t click through to your online business. Check out the video below for guidance on how to write a great title tag.

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Meta descriptions are your chance to stand out from your SERP peers and to convince searchers to click through to your website. Using my 3 word formula and 3 tactics, you’ll be able to write winning meta descriptions in no time at all.

So, go away, get started, and begin driving even more customers to your online business.

Victoria Greene is a branding consultant and freelance writer. She loves SEO and on her blog, VictoriaEcommerce, you’ll find articles covering all areas of SEO and coming at it from every angle.

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