One of the first things an SEO expert will look at when evaluating your website is your meta descriptions. This piece of content is designed to emphasize and preview the page content that best describes what's to come.
Though your meta description may seem like no big deal, it is one of the most visible pieces of content in search results. So you should give meta descriptions the time and effort it deserves.
Of course, you can use AI to generate a rough meta description for you. Shopify's built-in Magic AI button doesn't include meta descriptions as one of its features.
Many SEO apps will attempt to write your meta description for you, but no one knows your products as you do. They may also be AI-generated, so you'll want to make sure you're looking over the content before publishing.
Creating meta descriptions in bulk for thousands of pages can be challenging. I'm not saying don't use AI. It just may not be the best approach. Sometimes, picking your most visited pages and optimizing those first is easier to tackle than all at once.
Shopify will automatically use the first 320 characters of your page content as the meta description. It's rare that the first paragraph of your content is the most appropriate. So it's best to configure the meta description yourself directly in Shopify.
Keep in mind that Google may rewrite your meta descriptions. Usually, you see this when Google thinks your meta description doesn't match the page. Google is trying to help provide a better description of the page based on the specific search query. Sometimes they get this wrong, but crafting a quality meta description helps.
Here are a few tips to help you craft a better meta description that Google will want to use.
- It's a summary of the page, plain and simple.
- Summarize the benefits a customer would receive from your products. e.g. How will their life be better after purchasing? What makes your products unique?
- Always create meta descriptions that are unique for each page.
- Your copy should focus on getting the click, not the sale.
- Avoid generic statements that don't summarize the page content.
- Balance marketing sales pitches and actually describing what they can expect to find on this particular page. It's a fine line that should lean more towards the latter than the former.
- Don't keyword stuff. The description should be truly descriptive, not a list of keywords.
- Include relevant information to the page. e.g. a book may include the number of pages, and a blog post may include the author's name if they are considered an expert.
- Keep it to around 160 characters even though Shopify allows for 320 characters. Adding more characters may cause parts of your summary to not show.
- Perhaps most importantly... this is one part of your SEO strategy. If you feel stuck trying to get it perfect, create something “decent”. Then next month, update it to “good”, and make it “great” in a few months. You get as many attempts at this as you want.
Here's a quick example.
Let's say we've got a blog post on how to tie a tie.
- Bad (too short): Learn to tie a tie
- Bad (list of keywords): Necktie, Tie a Tie, Windsor Knot, Four-In-Hand Knot, Men's Ties
Bad (not specific to this page): Specializing in Men's formal and semi-formal clothing.
- Good: Learn how to tie a tie with this 8-step guide. We'll cover the Four-In-Hand Knot and Windsor Knot, the best ways to tie a tie for any occasion.
Meta descriptions are different than structured data. Yet, both meta descriptions and structured data can have a significant impact on how your pages appear in search results.
Meta descriptions are the paragraph-style text you see in a search result. Structured data is what can allow you to show enhancements like the number of reviews, prices, and stock availability.
Most Shopify themes have poor structured data so they don’t qualify for many search enhancements in Google.
JSON-LD for SEO provides high-quality data that will let your store qualify for many types of Google’s Rich Results. Often times faster than the industry averages.