Bethan | 27 Jul 2021
A meta description is an HTML tag that you can set for a page of your website and (Google gods permitting) will show under your title tag on a search engine results page. It can be used to give some information about what your page contains and thereby encourage users to click through to your website.
Why are Meta Descriptions Important?
Except for your title tag, the meta description is often the only piece of information a user sees before deciding whether or not to click through to your website. It, therefore, plays an important role in encouraging people to click through. Although search engines do not use meta descriptions as a ranking factor in their algorithm, it is widely believed that they do take click-through-rate (CTR) into account. The logic behind this is that if more people click on your link, you are more likely to be considered a good result for a search query. Regardless of whether or not CTR is indeed a ranking factor, who wouldn’t want to encourage more visitors to click through to their website?
So, What Makes a Good Meta Description?
When writing your descriptions, there are a few different factors you should take into account.
Keep it to 155 Characters
Although there isn’t really a correct length for your description, Google usually only displays the first 120 to 155 characters, with anything longer than that being truncated. Keeping your descriptions short, yet getting your message across, can be tricky but will yield you the best results.
Use Your Keywords
Despite not affecting rankings, using your target keywords in your meta descriptions is still worthwhile. Including them can show Google that your meta data is in line with the information on your page, so your meta descriptions are more likely to be used. Google will also likely display the keyword – or synonyms of it – if that keyword appears in the user’s search term. This can draw the user’s eye, and encourage them to click through to your website.
Use the Right Language
Your meta descriptions should use natural language (something Google is liking more and more) and be interesting to read. Think of it as an advertisement for your web page, and write it in a similar way to how you would write the body of a Google Ad. We don’t recommend, however, including prices in your meta description, or other time-sensitive information (unless this is pulled in dynamically and will update itself later). It’s just too hard to remember to go back and update the information later!
Include a Call to Action
Where appropriate, you may wish to include a call to action in your meta description – for example, if you offer a free trial, you might want to include ‘Sign up for our free trial’. A call to action encourages a user to take action, to click your link, and find out more.
Make Your Descriptions Unique
You can’t just write one great meta description and use it for all of your pages. Search engines don’t like duplicate content! Writing a full set of unique meta descriptions for your site is the best way to get results, but, if you have not got time to do that initially, focus on the main pages you want to rank for and leave the others blank in the short term. Google will use a snippet of your page content that matches the keywords in the search query. You can’t guarantee it will be entirely relevant but it’s better than having duplicates. You can always fill in the missing descriptions later as time allows. Writing meta descriptions for your whole website can be a daunting and time-consuming task, but it’s well worth the effort to deliver a better user experience and gain better results for your website. If you have any questions about meta descriptions or want to find out more about SEO, talk to one of our experienced team members at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out some of our other blogs.