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Think about the last query you typed into Google. The generated results provide a list of links related to your question. Each entry contains a title, URL, related searches, site links, and a snippet. That snippet is called a meta description, and it is one of the deciding factors searchers use before clicking on a link.
While Google does not use meta descriptions as a ranking signal, the tags still have a massive impact on webpage click-through rates because they are present in search results. Website developers and managers need to understand how to best use those descriptions to draw traffic to their website.
For lawyers, so much of their client base is generated from online activity, so law firm websites must follow SEO best practices for all components, including descriptions. A single meta description could have the potential to bring in a client and their case. The short blurbs can seem inconsequential, but the reality of the matter is they offer much more to search engines and users than an overview of web pages.
What Are Meta Descriptions?
A meta description, sometimes called a tag or attribute, is used to describe the content of a webpage. It shows up below the title and URL of your page in search engine results. These snippets summarize a web page’s content to let visitors know what the page is about before they click the link.
Snippets are generated in one of two ways. The website developer or content creator can write unique copy, or the search engineer will pull text from the main body copy of the webpage. In addition to seeing the meta description below the page title and URL, users can also right-click on the search engine listing and click “View Page Source.” Doing so will bring up the meta description in code form. The copy should include general information about the page, as well as the targeted keyword.
If your law firm uses WordPress on a self-hosted domain, attributes can easily be added to your content with a plugin. If you do not use a host, you will need to search your website’s platform to determine if you need an SEO plugin, add-on, or extension.
How Search Engines Use Meta Descriptions
To understand how search engines use meta descriptions, consider the following explanation. The meta description states what Google does and how it can help visitors. It is clear and concise and exactly 159 characters. The same meta tag is found in Google, Yahoo, and Bing. From that snippet, users know what to expect when visiting the website. From there, they can decide if that is where they need to go or if they need to continue their search.
Why Meta Description Tags Matter
Meta descriptions have the power to help or hurt click-through rates. According to Semrush, including the keyword in the body of the meta description is a relevancy signal for search engineers that can help rankings.
Meta description tags act as organic ad text. This means that when your webpage or advertisement ranks for a specific keyword, search engines show that description as a summary of the page. When a tag is compelling, it has the power to improve click-through rates and drive organic search results. The more traffic a webpage has, the higher rankings have the potential to climb.
While descriptions may not play as significant a role in rankings like user experience, page speed, or mobile-friendliness, they play a positive role if appropriately used. Meta tags have substantial real estate in search engine results, as they take up two lines of text. Law firms can use attributes to sell their websites with a meaningful message to potential page visitors.
How Law Firms Benefit From Using Meta Descriptions
Every page on your law firm’s website needs a tag that accurately describes what the individual pages are about. Not only does this help Google and other search engines understand what you’re offering, but it gives potential visitors a clear picture of whether they will benefit from clicking on your link and browsing your content.
Some of the benefits of using attributes include the following:
- Bolded keywords. When someone searches for a particular keyword or phrase, the search engine will bold it. Remember to include your top keyword phrases in your meta tags.
- Social network usage. When you share links to web pages on social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter, the site pulls either the first sentence of the post or the meta description to preview the page for visitors. Meta descriptions are typically shown in their entirety.
- Social bookmarking network. Social bookmarking networks also use meta tags as page descriptions on their network.
Remember that a meta description is your first chance, sometimes your only chance, to connect with potential site visitors. A good description can pull more traffic to your site, while a lousy description has the potential to send users to your competition.
How to Write Write Quality Meta Description Copy
You want your description tag to highlight your law firm’s services. Before writing, consider what makes your page better than the other pages in the search results. How are your services unique? What skills and experiences do you have that can help people? What sets you apart from the thousands of other law firms popping up in search engine results?
Consider Your Audience – What Are They Searching For?
Try to appeal to your audience’s emotions. Remember that you are writing for real people. It is likely your target audience is struggling with a legal matter. You can use your meta tag to highlight how you can help them with their struggles. Remember, however, that if your text is too vague, people either will not care about what you offer or will not understand your service.
Consider Google’s Requirements
In addition to the tone of your copy, you need to comply with Google’s parameters. Google allows up to 160 characters—which comes out to one to two sentences. The recommended length falls between 50 and 155. If the text is longer than the limit, Google will truncate it, and users will not get your entire message. In terms of SEO, make sure all attributes are unique for every page on your website. If you duplicate descriptions or fail to include them at all, you risk a drop in your rankings.
With only 160 characters, you need to compose your message carefully. Remember to include your target keyword and a call to action. You can also double-check how it will appear using a SERP view generator tool.
Consider Meta Description Tools
There are other online tools you can use, like the Semrush On-Page SEO Checker. The tool examines your attribute’s text to see if it includes your keyword. You can see a detailed analysis of how you are using the keyword in your description. The SEO Checker also provides a list of optimization suggestions for every page of your website.
Consider That Google MAY NOT USE Your Meta Description
We are seeing more and more that search engines (specifically Google) will override your specified meta description. There is no way to determine if or when this could happen. Sometimes, Google does not think the provided tag adequately answers users’ questions. Instead, it will pull a snippet of text from that page to match a searcher’s query better.
Tips for Improving Search Engine Click-Through Results
If you’re using meta tags do not think you are getting the most out of them, there are some tips you can employ when writing the copy. Consider the following:
- Write compelling snippets. How you phrase your tags can significantly impact your search engine results. Focus on giving potential visitors a reason to click on your link.
- Remember call-to-actions. Consider adding call-to-action phrasing like “click here” or “read more” to encourage users to visit your site.
- Run tests. You won’t know what works for your website until you try. If you have pages that are receiving decent organic traffic, consider testing different tags to see if you can improve click-through rates. Various lengths, keyword positioning, or phrasing could make all the difference.
You may experience some trial and error when developing tags, but do not fret. Once you find the attributes that work for you, your website’s messaging will be clearer to search engines and potential site visitors.
How Law Quill Can Help Law Firms Create Great Content and Meta Descriptions
Content creation goes beyond blogs, white papers, and infographics. The meta descriptions law firms create impact search engine results, so it is crucial to understand how to use the snippets to your advantage. If meta description attribute creation is not in your wheelhouse, Law Quill is ready to step in.
We are here to help and would welcome the opportunity to visit with you for free regarding your law firm website’s content, and how we can take these tasks off your plate! Schedule a free visit with us by scheduling a quick phone or zoom call at your convenience on our calendar today. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.