Ecommerce meta descriptions can act like short, tweet-length ads capable of attracting visitors from social media and beating higher-ranked competitors on search engine results pages.
HTML meta tags include information about a web page and its content. There is a meta tag for copyright information, a meta tag that tells search engines whether or not to index the web page, and a meta tag that holds a short, text description of the page.
<meta name=”description” content=”Your page description”>
This last tag, the meta description tag, is sometimes used on search engine results pages and on social media sites, when a page is shared.
You might think of meta descriptions as part of the second task of search engine optimization. Many companies work very hard to ensure search engine bots can easily index their pages and discern meaning in content, but they forget that ranking on a search engine results page is fruitless unless searchers click on the link, generating site traffic.
In the context of a search engine results page, the meta description should encourage or even entice someone to click by explaining why the page is relevant.
The meta description and its close cousin, the open graph description, also make an appearance on some social media sites when users share a page. Here again this may be an opportunity to promote and earn additional site traffic.
When to Use Meta Descriptions
Meta descriptions can be a conversion tool to generate clicks. Use them when having a description would, seemingly, increase conversions for a specific set of search engine queries.
SEO firm Moz, for example, recommends considering the search engine queries that are leading folks to the page. If those queries are diverse, using more than about three distinct search phrases, you might not want to use the meta description. Instead, Moz recommends, you should allow the search engine to grab a portion of the page content to show in the results page snippet.
If the queries leading to a page tend to be very similar, using just a few search phrases, write a meta description and open graph description specifically to match those search queries.
How to Write an Ecommerce Meta Description
Many page optimization sites, services, and professionals recommend keeping meta descriptions to 160 characters or fewer. For example, Google’s meta description is 159 characters, including spaces.
Search the world’s information, including webpages, images, videos and more. Google has many special features to help you find exactly what you’re looking for.
Given this recommended size, it can be helpful to think about a meta description like a tweet. Imagine that you were going to share the associated page on Twitter, which has a 140-character limit. What would you say in that tweet to get your followers to click through to the page? If you could write that tweet successfully, you can write an effective meta description.
Consider, too, the pointers that follow.
Use verbs. For ecommerce, it can be a good idea to start a meta description or open graph description with a verb like “shop” or “try.” At the time of writing, Zumiez took this tact, for example, on its skate shoe product category page.
Shop skate shoes at Zumiez, carrying a huge selection of styles from top skateboard footwear brands, like Vans, adidas, Nike SB, and Supra. Free shipping to any Zumiez store.
Use a call to action. The meta description should have a call to action. Combining this call to action with a verb like “shop” or “buy” is best. The men’s product category page at Tilly’s, an apparel store, tells folks to “Shop now.”
Choose from a great selection of men’s clothing, shoes, swimwear and accessories from some of your favorite brands at Tilly’s. Shop now to stock up on new gear.
Use search phrases. Remember to use meta descriptions on pages that tend to attract visitors from a narrow range of search queries. So, be certain to include terms from those queries in the description.
Build templates. Do not focus on trying to write a perfect description for every page on your site. Rather, develop templates for the various kinds of pages, such as product detail pages, product category pages, and content pages.
Zappos does this for its product detail pages. The meta description below is for a pair of men’s skate shoes.
Scout by etnies at Zappos.com – FREE Shipping. Read etnies Scout product reviews, or select the etnies Scout size, width, and color of the etnies Scout of your choice.
Here is a meta description from Zappos for running shoes.
Wave Ekiden 10 by Mizuno at Zappos.com – FREE Shipping. Read Mizuno Wave Ekiden 10 product reviews, or select the Mizuno Wave Ekiden 10 size, width, and color of the Mizuno Wave Ekiden 10 of your choice.
Be accurate. Meta descriptions should accurately describe the page content. Don’t disappoint the folks who you encourage to click through.