Writing meta descriptions for local businesses is an important step in optimizing a website for local SEO and ranking a website for search results. Though there are discussions whether they are ranking factor or not, they still have a distinct role in helping you attract clicks from search results.
It can be looked at as an advertisement that grabs the attention of potential customers – in this case, browsers.
In this article, we will identify how you can write meta descriptions effectively for local businesses. We will discuss various tips for writing ones that will help increase clicks and conversions for your client’s site.
Are meta descriptions still relevant?
Even though Google and other search engines are more likely than ever to use different content for their snippets, meta descriptions are still worth creating.
Meta descriptions are the first thing that shows up when a search result is displayed. They aren’t always visible, but if you hover over the description, it will show up.
It’s important to write meta descriptions so that they can entice users to click on your link instead of someone else’s, i.e. the click through rate.
How many characters should meta descriptions be?
According to Google, there are no prescribed rules on the length of the meta descriptions. They have no minimum or maximum length, but Google and most other search engines always cut short the snippets to fit the device width like in the example below.
As such, the recommended character length for meta descriptions is 150 to 160 characters. The objective is to therefore fit the relevant information within this space.
Writing meta descriptions for local businesses
To optimize the 160 character meta descriptions, this section will provide some tips which can carry some weight and thereby help improve the click through rate.
Listed below are some things you could consider when writing meta descriptions for local businesses.
- Summarize the content of your page
- Answer the most common questions asked
- Understand the objective of the page
- Include a cliffhanger to make visitors curious
- Include the focus keyword for better context
- Make reference to any popular landmarks
- Explain what the visitors will find if they clicked through
- Include season or event specific information
Summarize the content of your page
Make a list of the key points you want to convey in your meta description.
How do you want your readers to feel? What do you want them to know? Your goal is to make sure that when they arrive on your page, they have a clear understanding of what they are going to find and why they should spend their time reading it.
Remember that you are giving them reasons to click your page so it’s important that you give them context or clarifications that they are likely going to need.
Answer the most common questions asked
As visitors browse through the Google search results, they are likely looking for specific queries about a local business.
Some common questions they could have in mind are:
- What are their opening hours?
- What locations do they serve?
- Who do they particularly cater to?
- What are the services that they provide?
Of course, this could vary across industries. For instance, restaurants may find it more useful to include opening hours, cuisines served etc. whereas a tradesman may want to highlight the services offered, their credentials, warranty information and areas served.
So why not use this opportunity to answer them? It’s a great way to include these key local business information which provides more context to Google on what the business is about.
It’s a great way to drive traffic from well-targeted visitors who get exactly the information they need as they are more likely to click to learn more.
Understand the objective of the page
A good starting point for writing a great meta description is understanding the true purpose of each page on your website.
For example, if you’re writing a meta description for the About Us page, visitors will probably be looking for some basic information: who runs the company and what services/products are offered etc.
Meanwhile, if someone is looking for your contact page, they might want more specific answers such as hours of operation or availability in certain areas or times—and most likely won’t be interested in reading through pages upon pages of copy just yet.
Include a cliffhanger to make visitors curious
Don’t give away the ending.
You’d be surprised how many people do this. You want them to click through and enter the website. So, giving away only part of the content may entice visitors to access the page.
Include the focus keyword for better context
When you write your meta descriptions, you want to include your focus keywords. In the first sentence or two of the description, include them though ensuring they sound natural.
If there are any other parts of your meta descriptions that might be relevant to search engines (such as a summary at the beginning), you can use those opportunities to incorporate them too.
Make reference to any popular landmarks
This is mostly for local businesses that prioritizes foot traffic to their store. So, it’s more relevant for restaurants, dentists, cafes etc where customers are likely to visit the place to get served.
If the location of the business is difficult to find, you could consider including popular landmarks that visitors can easily make reference to. You could also include parking information as they are more likely to drive.
Continuously optimize using data
You’re not going to get it right the first time. Writing meta descriptions for local businesses would involve many iterations.
And these iterations would be based on analyzing the data from various sources. You can use tools like Google Search Console to monitor the click through rates of all the pages. Accordingly, you can assess which pages are performing better.
Continual optimization means that you should always be looking for ways to improve your meta descriptions. You should be testing your meta descriptions to see if they are working and checking them regularly (making sure they are being indexed by search engines), monitoring the click-through rates so that you can optimize their effectiveness further.
Include season or event specific information
Most local businesses are more likely to have events or offers from time to time. This could also be seasonal depending on the time of the year.
- A Mexican restaurant could include information relating to special items on the menu that most visitors may be interested in.
- Farmers can write about their seasonal crops that only grow during certain times.
- Event planners can mention about the different events they can plan across different seasons like weddings for the summer or indoor gatherings for the winter.
Examples of good meta descriptions
We understand that writing meta descriptions for local businesses can be quite a task especially considering that you have only 160 characters to work with. Here are some examples of good meta descriptions that will inspire and help you write for other local businesses.
What’s good about it?
- Identifies the location and the service provided (provides a good context).
- Uses the keywords sparingly with variants sounding natural.
- Outlines the various types of services the company provides.
What’s good about it?
- Creates a sense of urgency by including a call to action
- Outlines a good value proposition to entice the visitors to claim the offer
- Indicates the price which is likely to be a key piece of information
What’s good about it?
- Identifies the various customer groups it targets
- Includes the location that it serves so it targets customer from a particular area
- Highlights a key feature i.e. 24 Hour Emergency service which is usually a popular search query.
What’s good about it?
- Clearly outlines the services provided
- Identifies the target audience which can help drive targeted traffic
- Includes the credentials and location served which can provide extra credibility.
Things to avoid when writing meta descriptions
Here are a few things to avoid when writing meta descriptions:
- Don’t overdo it. Don’t write extremely long, florid descriptions that go on forever and exhaust the reader’s patience. You want your meta description to be concise and to the point.
- Avoid over-optimization. It’s tempting to jam as many keywords into your meta description as possible, but this can often lead to text sounding less natural — and thus less likely to be clicked on by searchers who might otherwise have been interested in what you had to say about the product or service.
- Try not to use too many adjectives or superlatives (e.g., “best,” “greatest”). While there may be some merit in using these words if they’re accurate, don’t let them distract from what you’re trying to say about what makes your company special—and remember that no matter how great someone thinks their business is, everyone else will still have opinions on the subject!
Meta descriptions are an essential part of your SEO strategy, so it’s important to learn how to write them. But the process doesn’t have to be difficult. If you can follow a few simple guidelines, you can create meta descriptions that will improve your rankings in search engines and encourage more visitors to click through from SERPs.