If you’re new to the realm of medical search engine optimization, you may have heard about meta descriptions in passing. But what are they and how do they pertain to healthcare SEO? Is a meta description different from a healthcare meta description?
In this guide, we’ll break down the details of what a meta description is, how to write one, examples, dos and don’ts, and how to write meta descriptions for a medical website.
What is a Healthcare Meta Description?
Once upon a time, Google used a bot to extract a small excerpt of text from web pages in order to summarize what a page was about. These small descriptions would appear beneath the title and URL of the website in the search engine results pages (SERPs), allowing Google to provide more information about the organic search results.
That didn’t quite work out, however. Today, website owners are accustomed to crafting meta descriptions for their own websites.
A meta description is an HTML attribute that summarizes what the page is about. This way, when users see your page show up in SERPs, they can determine whether or not the information you provide will be relevant and helpful to them. You can think of a meta description as a way to pitch your content to searchers.
Why are Meta Descriptions Important?
Meta descriptions allow searchers, Google, and other search engines to determine the purpose of your website. What information do you provide? What is your web page about? A good meta description will give a competitive advantage to your site, as you can entice browsers and increase search clicks.
A well-constructed healthcare meta description appears in search engine result pages, allowing you to pitch to searchers to click your page. If you don’t have meta descriptions, Google will pull something random from your page. You want to give the searcher the best page description of your site possible.
Below, you’ll see two examples of sample meta descriptions. The first is an example of a randomly extracted meta description, which would fall under the category of ‘poor meta descriptions’. I searched for ‘ENT in Rhode Island’. You can imagine that my search intent is not to learn what an ENT is or does, but rather to find an ENT to help me with some medical issue.
The next is a sample meta description that is effective for medical SEO. It includes the brand name (University Otolaryngology), a question to draw the user’s attention, as well as a call to action (CTA). What would make the below meta description even better would be if they used power words (we will get into those soon) and if the description was shorter. You can see that Google truncated the description and part of it is cut off.
A good meta description can influence your CTR (click-through rate) for the better. If you have better click-through rates, it will help you to rank higher in SERPs.
Google is more likely to put your website on the first page and your healthcare practice will be more likely to acquire more patients.
How To Write A Good Medical Meta Description
Make sure your medical meta description is no longer than 155 characters (including spaces) because Google will truncate it and your reader may miss out on important information that could entice him or her to click the link.
As you can see in the example above, the entire meta description is not known. The searcher could be missing out on important information! Don’t let a few characters get in the way of having perfect meta descriptions show up in the search results.
Include a sense of urgency and a call to action. Things like ‘schedule an appointment or ‘book a free consultation’ are both great CTAs to include in the meta description of a healthcare website. Particularly if your website responds to search queries that are related to a problem that needs to be solved, you can entice prospective patients this way.
Get Searchers’ Attention
It’s your job to entice the searcher to click your link, so you need to grab attention. Try starting with a question. In the ENT example above, you can see the question is something as simple as ‘Are you searching for an Ear Nose, and Throat doctor in RI MA, or CT?’.
When you ask a question in your meta description, you prompt the user to automatically answer that question in his or her head. This is also a good way to evoke an emotional response, if appropriate to your site.
Avoid Medical Terminology
Your searcher probably isn’t going to understand much medical jargon if he or she is a patient. Use layman’s terms and easily readable descriptions. The sample meta description should be well written with a focus on the problem to be solved and a CTA.
Save the medical jargon for the page itself, where you can explain and define words as necessary. This will help your healthcare SEO in today’s competitive healthcare marketplace.
Try to include the keyword you are targeting in your meta description. Though this doesn’t explicitly impact your rankings, it gives a sense of cohesion to your page.
Relevant keywords will attract the right audience to your website. It doesn’t matter if your website shows up in search results if your site is irrelevant to the search.
Targeting the right keywords is crucial. A strategy makes sense if the keywords are included in the health systems’ meta descriptions.
Use Power Words
Words such as ‘discover’, ‘exclusive’, ‘ultimate’, and ‘you’ (You is a great power word to use as it speaks directly to the searcher. In terms of medical SEO, power words might include things such as ‘urgent care’ or ‘high-quality care’ – these terms evoke a sense of nurturing, which is what most patients need from healthcare practices.
Potential patients want to feel that they deserve high-quality care. You can make them feel this simply by using power words in your sample meta description.
The Importance of a Good Meta Description For Your Medical Practice Website
There are so many important aspects to medical SEO to get search engines to rank your healthcare practice website in the search results. In addition to things like title tags, schema markup, mobile-friendliness, keyword research, backlink acquisition, and other healthcare SEO basics, your website needs to have proper meta descriptions for all of its pages.
To ensure your site is showing up in Google’s search results, thereby increasing your online web presence, you need to give the user easy access to a page description – this is done in the meta descriptions. It’s a small and easy component of SEO to implement in order to ensure success for your healthcare websites.
Google will reward you by ranking your site high in search engines (as opposed to low-quality pages with no meta descriptions), reaching new patients, and boosting your healthcare SEO.