Daily Medium Hack #1 — Meta Description

Casey Botticello

A meta description (sometimes called a meta description attribute or tag) is an HTML element that describes and summarizes the contents of your page for the benefit of users and search engines. While meta data isn’t as important for SEO rankings as it used to be, the meta description still plays a significant role in on-page SEO.

Medium allows writers to customize the meta description of any article, and you should take advantage of this!

1. A meta description is like a mini ad for a webpage.

When SEO meta descriptions appear on SERPs and social media feeds, they act as a small promo for the webpage. The copy gives marketers an opportunity to promote the page and tell readers why they should click on it.

As an example, I customized the meta description for one of my popular articles, The Truth About Tai Lopez:

This article ranks highly in Google, and previously, the meta description was just the title and subtitle from my Medium article (the typical default for a Medium article). I customized it to make it a bit more reader friendly (as seen in the green box below):

Google Search for “Tai Lopez” | Source: Casey Botticello

2. Defined meta descriptions look better in search results.

When you don’t tell search engines and social platforms which page description to use, they decide for themselves. This could result in an unflattering appearance for your page snippet. Text could be cut off, important details could be missing, and irrelevant page data could appear. Defining the text you want to use allows you to ensure the best, most relevant content appears.

In this example, you can see how an incomplete meta description can be confusing, misleading, or even harmful. Take this search snippet for example. It’s something Elisa Gabbert stumbled on and shot around to her marketing team:

From this SERP snippet, it would appear that the folks at The Guardian aren’t big fans of Harper Collins scribe Leah McGrath Goodman, putting it mildly. However, if you click through to the page, you see that the actual on-page content tells a different story.

Sure, if you bother to click through, there’s no confusion or misunderstanding. And I’m sure many do because the meta description is inflammatory and thereby compelling. However, if you don’t click, the SERP snippet paints such an unflattering picture of Goodman’s that the damage to her reputation is done. Not good.

  1. Go to the Medium article you want to customize, and click the edit icon in the upper right hand corner:

2. Click on the button labeled “change display title/subtitle.”

3. Enter your preferred Medium article meta description and click save.

Tips for crafting an enticing meta description:

  • The right length doesn’t really exist; it depends on the message you want to convey. You should take enough space to get the message across, but keep it short and snappy at the same time. Every now and then, Google changes the length. Nowadays, you’ll mostly see meta descriptions of up to 155 characters, with some outliers of 300 characters. At least, try to get crucial information in the first 155 characters of your meta description.
  • Include a call to action. “Hello, we have such and such new product, and you want it. Find out more!” This overlaps what I said about the active voice, but I wanted to emphasize it. It’s your sales text, where your product is the page that is linked, not the product on that page. Invitations like Learn more, Get it now, Try for free come in handy here.
  • Include the focus keyword. If the search keyword matches a part of the text in the meta description, Google will be more inclined to use that meta description and highlight it in the search results. This will make the link to your site even more inviting.

— Casey Botticello



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