If you are anything like me, you are constantly reading blogs and coming across great info you want to share with the world. In these social times, it’s easy to do, right? Forget the days of trying to print and fax something to your distribution list, or scan and email a document, only to find out that the recipient has a different operating system and cannot even open the article. Today with social media, it has become simple to share to our favorite social networkings sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and social bookmarking sites.
Many of the blogging platforms out there have made it pretty easy to publish content, with their easy-to-understand interfaces and a wide variety of available plug-ins. When you decide you want to share something on Facebook... it does all the work for you by pulling in the article’s title and a description with the link.
So, let's say you are reading your favorite blog... What do you do when you want to share the article you've just read? You click either "Share" or "Tweet" or one of the other share-to-social buttons, right? Well, what do you do when you click "Share" and it opens up the dialogue box for sharing — but it only includes the URL — and no description? Unless the article was really, really good, I would typically just click “cancel” and go about my day. I would consider this lack of attention to detail a social media "sin."
It’s pointless to share something without telling anyone what it’s about. Unless your followers and connections are so loyal to you that they will click on anything and everything you share, you’ll need to go back to the article and grab the title (or write one yourself), before you share the link. Let’s face it… we are all in a hurry these days. So I generally won’t bother.
But here’s the simple truth. It’s all in the meta-data. Your meta title and meta description are the keys to making your content well formatted for sharing, and potentially much more inviting to read than some nondescript shortened URL. Blogging platforms provide the easy-to-use interface to create your meta title and meta description (most of them anyway), and this same rule of thumb applies to websites. If your website or blog is designed to be shared (why wouldn’t it be?), make sure your meta-data is in place, and make sure your content is inviting and easy to share.
Include descriptive keywords in your titles, and be clear as to what the content is about. Don’t mislead your readers by saying something that isn’t true just to draw them into your site. Be transparent, and honest.
Most people won’t take the time to read the description, so the title should do most of the work for you. The description, however, should not be ignored. Meta description is a critical element of search because when your site is listed in Google or any other search engine, that short description could be the very thing that leads someone to click on your link over the others search results, if it’s well written. Write that short, concise, first sentence that will display in the search engine below your link.
In this age of social sharing, there are enormous amounts of content out there being shared daily. Chances are someone else is writing about the exact same things you or I write about, and that’s really okay. When you share something through social channels, you have but a split-second to grab someone's attention. Missing the mark on meta-data could be the very thing that holds you back. If you are taking the time to put your thought leadership into an article, take the extra few minutes to be sure your meta-data is complete.