How do users gain their first impression of your page content? People do not randomly click on a page they see on search results. In fact, something on your page is attractive enough to convince users to access your page. The answer is meta description.
Then, what is meta description? How long should it be? Why do most website optimization services prioritize it for the best results?
Don’t panic, read this article!
What Is a Meta Description?
Meta description, or meta tags, is an HTML element that informs search engines and users with a short preview of the page content. It only appears on search engine results pages (SERP) and under the title tags. The image below is an example:
To best optimize for SEO, meta description should include keywords related to the search query. Although it doesn’t directly impact SEO rankings, it is crucial in attracting users to click on a page.
The webpage coding formula of a description looks like this:
<meta name=”description” content=”a written description of the page”>.
Remember: Among other competitive webpages calling for attention, your meta description must be the one that says: “This is the page you’ve been searching for.” Its purpose is to entice users to click and visit your page.
What Is The Recommended Meta Description Length?
How long should a meta description be? This question has many people confused because there are various answers to that.
Here is the latest update from Google: The meta description length is 160 characters or less. However, Google still allows longer descriptions, though it might not display on SERP.
Experts recommended it is ideal for keeping yours between 50 – 160 characters, which is an efficient meta description length. Remember that this length does not impact your SEO performance or page ranking. Your primary goal is to write a good one to generate more clicks; for the best result, there are some characteristics to consider.
Keep in mind that sometimes Google won’t use your meta description but present random phrases on your page instead. Keeping your description at an ideal length is the best approach.
See more: Best SEO Plugin for WordPress
Why Are Meta Descriptions Important for SEO?
This fact might surprise you: meta description is NOT a ranking factor. But wait, don’t underestimate it.
Backlinko’s report on 5 million Google search results revealed that pages with a meta description received 5.8% more clicks than pages without one.
Meta description is part of on-page SEO, which affects your page ranking on search engines. Specifically, an attractive one can positively generate click-through rates (CTR) in Google SERPs.
Though the meta description length is only two sentences, it represents the whole content. Therefore, the more relevant and precise your meta description is to users’ queries, the more access you will receive.
Did you know social sites like Facebook use a page’s meta description as a preview when sharing that page? Without it, Facebook will use the first sentence they can find, whether relevant or not. But if you can customize it for the best results, why not create a good one?
Though Google doesn’t rank your site based on meta description, it is still an indirect factor affecting the users’ clicking decisions. As many online platforms utilize this description to introduce your page briefly, an informative one creates a better impression.
See more: What Is Conversion Rate?
What Are The Characteristics of a Good Meta Description?
For the best result, there are some characteristics you should include to create a good meta description:
- Maintain the meta description length
- Use active voice
- Include CTA
- Include focus keywords
- Don’t duplicate
- Be unique
- Be relevant
1. Maintain The Meta Description Length
As stated above, the meta description length is 50 to 160 characters, ideally two sentences at most. Once again, Google still accepts longer descriptions. However, you want your message to be fully delivered to viewers on SERP without being cut off.
2. Use Active Voice
We have many times said that: “Meta description is users’ first impression of your page,” so don’t disappoint them!
When writing, all you are aiming for is to make it attractive enough to encourage users’ action to click through. Therefore, simplify your description. Avoid using complicated words or special characters. Keep it engaging and direct.
3. Insert CTA
If you want users to click, you must call out for their attention in the meta description.
Call-to-action terms like Learn more, Read now, Find out more are short but direct enough to grab users’ motivation to access your page. So, whatever message you convey to users on the meta description, include CTAs.
4. Include Focus Keywords
When the search keyword matches part of the text in the meta description, Google is more likely to use and highlight it in the search results. Sometimes, Google even highlights synonyms.
This meta description focuses on the keyphrase: “On-page SEO services.” They include them in the description and place the key terms in the beginning for best optimization.
5. Don’t Duplicate
Similar to title tags, the meta description should directly relate to that specific page and be different from descriptions of other pages.
One option to prevent duplicate meta descriptions is to create unique ones for automated pages dynamically and programmatically.
6. Be Unique
Your meta description length is only 160 characters, won’t take much time to make it unique, right?
Tell your readers about your service, convey your unique selling proposition clearly, and repeat this information multiple times in the meta description. Google will prioritize a snippet from the page with the relevant keyword that best matches the search query. Therefore, writing a unique meta description for each page you aim to rank is always recommended.
7. Be Relevant
Though it is not the first time we have said this, the meta description must present the overall content the page is discussing.
Search engine bots are clever enough to evaluate if the meta description is relevant to the page’s content. If misleading, they might penalize your website, reducing bounce rates and your brand credibility among users. So don’t risk yourself. We are sure writing a good one will take little time.
3 Meta Description Examples You Can Learn
Describing everything on your homepage in a 160-character limit meta description length is challenging. But nothing is impossible if you clearly understand what the page is about.
An ideal description is when it includes the characteristics mentioned above, targeting a specific purpose: a compelling reason why users must click your page.
If you look at this meta description, did you see how the message is fully displayed on SERP? This description contains the company introduction, its business solutions, and the specific target for clients, all in one line. Nothing too fancy is included in the description. However, it can still deliver a precise, simple message that briefly describes the company. Try yours.
- Product Page
Product page meta description is probably the easiest. You only need to focus on a specific product or service’s unique selling point (USP).
Test your knowledge: Any conclusions from this meta description example?
First, the presence of the main keyword. This page ranks for the term “Men’s formal wear”, which you can see how naturally they place throughout the description.
Secondly is how they play with words for various purposes. Fun phrases like “Look sharp” or “for a steal” mean much more than engaging readers. They represent the brand’s USP: smart clothing from a well-known brand at an affordable price.
- Product Page
Next, let’s focus on the meta descriptions for your category or collection pages. These pages aim to group similar products, making browsing easy for users. For example, this collection pages appear for broad, high-volume keywords, such as “women’s shoes” or “men’s sandals.”
The category page meta description should entice readers by providing relevant information about the collection. For example, DSW showcases various types of shoes in its women’s shoe category. Additionally, it includes actionable phrases such as “Shop online for…” and “Enjoy a wide selection and free shipping…” to encourage more clicks.
Why Won’t Google Use Your Meta Description?
There are many reasons why Google won’t your meta description, here are some:
- Relevance: One of the main factors influencing whether Google uses your meta description is its relevance to the search query. If the search engine knows yours is irrelevant to the user’s search, it may choose a different one.
- Length: The meta description length can also impact whether Google uses it. If yours is too short or long, it won’t be suitable for display in the search results.
- Duplicate tags: Multiple pages with duplicate title tags or meta descriptions can confuse Google. This might lead to the wrong page being ranked or filtered, resulting in Google not using the intended meta description.
- Ranking algorithm: Google’s ranking algorithm primarily relies on the content of a web page rather than the information provided in the meta description. While the meta description can be helpful for users, it doesn’t directly impact a page’s ranking. Therefore, Google may generate its snippet based on the page content.
- Optimization: If Google consistently displays the wrong meta description for your site, optimize it or adjust it to better align with the top-ranking pages. This could involve reviewing and updating your meta descriptions to accurately reflect your pages’ content.
However, if your page targets a few specific search terms, it is recommended to write your meta description that aligns with those terms. This can provide more targeted information to users and improve click-through rates.
It’s important to note that search engines are designed to match queries with the closest phrases. This implies that meta description generators may only sometimes align perfectly with user queries. Search engines will likely choose other texts to display instead.
See more: What is a sitemap?
What is a meta description? We believe you now have your answer to this question. In short, understanding the importance of meta descriptions and knowing how to write a good one can significantly impact your website’s success. So, implement the characteristics and keep practicing, you will master it one day!