How to preview your site’s meta descriptions & titles in SERPs
If you’d like to see how your website’s meta descriptions and titles look in search engine results pages (SERPs), it’s actually incredibly easy. Google, Yahoo and Bing all come with hidden search tools called operators. The ‘Site:’ operator lists all of the indexed pages on a user-entered website – including the site’s meta description and meta title tags. In this short blog post I’ll show you how to use the ‘Site:’ operator.
What are meta tags?
Meta tags are a hot SEO topic right now. As the online battle for clicks becomes even more competitive, most SEO consultants are advising site owners to create custom meta description and meta title tags for all of their important web pages.
The meta description tag is a short snippet of information that summarises the content of a web page. It’s actually embedded in the HTML code for the page – the only time you’ll see the meta description is in a search engine results page (SERP). Above the meta description displayed in SERPs you’ll also see your page’s meta title.
In May 2018, Google seemed to return their average displayed meta description length to just over 160 characters. There’s also some speculation that Google has reduced the frequency that custom meta description snippets are being displayed in non-sponsored SERPs.
Google (and other search engines) will often display a well-written custom meta description if it contains keywords matching those found in your page content. Better still – Google, Yahoo and Bing will mark the searcher’s keywords in bold text if they’re found in the snippet. This immediately draws the searcher’s attention to your snippet – making your page more likely to attract a click!
How do custom meta descriptions boost sales?
Despite what many site-owners think, custom meta description tags don’t have much direct impact on page ranking. Custom meta descriptions are only cost effective if your pages are already performing well in search results pages – ideally, appearing on Page 1 or 2 of SERPs. Here at metamatix, we suggest that custom meta descriptions are essential for maximising CTR from sponsored AdWords pages!
Meta descriptions need to be written to boost Click Through Rates (CTR). Rather than having anything to do with indexing, keyword SEO or page ranking, it’s all down to psychology.
First, by strategically positioning your keywords in a carefully crafted meta description, you can attract the searchers attention. Second, by drafting the meta description with a compelling call to action (CTA), you win the precious click.
After that, it’s down to statistics – the more clicks you win, the more sales you’ll generate!
How to check your site’s meta descriptions and titles
Here’s the easy way …
Simply type ‘site:’ followed by your-site-url into Google, Bing or Yahoo. In effect, you just replace the HTTP:// or HTTPS:// part of your site URL with site:
Here’s an example:
What you’ll see is a list of the pages that the search provider has indexed for your site. The list will include any custom meta description or title tags that you’ve created.
If you haven’t created custom meta tags, Google will display a snippet based on a ‘best guess’ extract of page content. Best guess snippets are very unlikely to perform well for encouraging click-through.
Our Revised 2018 guidelines for custom meta description writing
If your site is performing well in search results, creating custom meta descriptions could be a very cost-effective way of increasing click-through and sales. Here are the basic rules for writing your own custom meta descriptions:
- Make the description interesting, cheerful & appealing
- Limit the meta description length to around 160 characters max including spaces
- Try to put the call to action close to the start of the meta description
- Ensure that the meta description keywords also feature in the associated page
- Use ‘&’ instead of ‘and’ to save space
- Remember to include your location for localised product & service pages
If you want high-performance meta descriptions and titles without the hassle of writing them yourself, why not drop our copywriting team a line.
Use this link to our contact page to ask about our amazingly affordable meta tag copywriting rates!