Can you think of any content as undervalued as the meta page description? If one’s included for a page at all, it’s often too long to be effective, soaring way above the recommended 160-character maximum. When you have a good idea of what to include in the description, getting it beneath 160 characters is a matter of looking at the verbs you’ve used. While these tips are specifically helpful for writing meta page descriptions, they’re also good practice for all of your writing.
Use these tips to get your meta page descriptions into shape.
1. Ditch linking verbs
When you use action verbs instead of linking verbs, you create writing that your readers can taste, touch, feel, smell and hear. Not only do you create more lively writing, but you save all-important character counts when you ditch linking verbs. Making this one small change does more than get rid of characters that Google will truncate. It creates a message that’s more interesting to read altogether.
2. Recast sentences that begin with “there” plus a linking verb
Sentences beginning with “there is,” “there are,” or “there were” contain linking verbs. That’s strike one. Also, the “there” takes up space while adding nothing to the sentence. That’s strike two. Your reader waits for later in the sentence to see what it’s all about. Revising any sentences with “there” plus a linking verb makes the sentence more interesting and reduces the character count.
3. Favor single verbs over verb phrases
Sometimes we use verb phrases when a single verb will do. When you write a meta page description, zero in on the one action word that keeps the sentence going. If a meta page description includes “make a decision,” for example, use “decide” instead. You lose nothing when choosing one word.
4. Avoid nominalizations
Nominalizations are noun phrases that are usually followed by a linking verb. The nominalization in this sentence is “the preparation of students”:
“The purpose of the program is the preparation of students to be public school principals.”
You can make this sentence shorter and more engaging by using the verb suggested in the nominalization rather than the noun form itself.
The sentence becomes:
“The program prepares students to be public school principals.”
Never write more than one word when one word works. As you can see, using one word instead of several saves valuable real estate. That’s important when you have only 160 characters to grab the attention of someone whose attention span is less than that of a goldfish.
Admittedly, you will use each of these from time to time. But paying attention to the verbs you use in meta page descriptions can help you create more lively snippets that web searchers click.
If you enjoyed this post, read more by Stacy!
Stacy Dyer—Content Strategist