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Getting deep into meta descriptions (a good end of year project)

October 21, 2022

Meta descriptions are one important way we can continue to fine tune our new site to get better search engine rankings. At a minimum, your top level pages should have well-crafted metas. Ideally, any page that you want to rank prominently should have them too, especially topic-specific subpages and blog posts. 

See if your team can set aside time this year to do a meta description sweep, so we can start 2023 with a strong SEO game. 

What is a meta description? 

Meta descriptions appear in search engine results, just under the page title. They’re teasers, telling the reader what to expect on your page. Unlike content on the web page itself, the reader may not have any other context about the company or what’s on our page, because they are not yet on the site where they would get multiple cues. So, in the space of 160 characters, you need to tell a web searcher about the company, the topic, and the service or resource you’re offering. In many ways, they’re like little organic ads.

Do metas really matter? 

Yes. A strong meta description has indirect SEO benefits. It helps guide the right readers to the right pages. When an interested reader clicks to your page, spends time on it, and continues to look at more pages, that helps our site-wide SEO. Conversely, when a non-interested reader clicks into a page and immediately leaves (the wrong reader), that works against us. Bounce rate, time on site, and page depth are elements in search engine algorithms. 

What if my page doesn’t have one? 

If you haven’t populated the meta description field in Drupal, you are not in control of what a searcher sees in their search results. The search engine will create one from various bits of information on your page. It could be the subtitle or the first line of your page content, or a sentence that seems to match the search engine query--whether or not it gives context.

How do I write a strong meta description? 

Digital marketing agency SEER Interactive has given us good guidelines on writing meta descriptions. Here are their four steps to hitting the right note:

  1. Be clear and descriptive. Tell the user exactly what they will see on your page.
  2. Be specific and relevant to your page’s subject matter; don’t write broadly. Use keywords your desired audience is likely to search for.
  3. Keep it brief (150-160 characters).
  4. Include a call to action, with an action verb. 

In addition, include “SEI” in your metas. Make sure they are well written and understandable (don’t overstuff keywords). 

Examples (I underlined CTAs and potential search keywords): 

  • SEI offers fund administration, back office services, and outsourced fund accounting for investment managers. Turn your back office into a competitive advantage.
  • SEI helps ease the burden of regulatory compliance for asset management, with knowledgeable experts and our data warehouse approach to tracking. Learn more.
  • SEI tax-managed solutions align with investors’ long-term goals, risk tolerance and tax bracket. Learn how our strategies can help produce more effective tax outcomes.
  • Technology and asset management services for institutional investors: nonprofits, healthcare, retirement, pensions, Taft Hartley, public systems. Learn more about SEI.
  • SEI provides wealth management advice for high-net-worth individuals and families. Learn how our process helps support better financial decisions.

Read our brief blog, “SEO basics: How to write a meta description,” which includes a meta description preview tool, so you can see what your copy will look like in the results page.