By Luke Pickering
So before we get started, we need to answer the question “what is a meta description?”. A meta description is a snippet of what the webpage contains, it’s the bit of text underneath the webpage title and they’re generally 155-160 characters. For On-site SEO this is a great help if you really know how to write the best meta description you can. So what does a good description do for you?
Your Meta description is an HTML tag that usually looks something similar to this:
<head> <meta name=”description” content=”This is an example of a meta description. This will show up in search results.”></head>
The purpose of a Meta Description? It’s pretty simple. To get that person who is browsing Google to click through to your site. Google has said that there is no real ranking benefit from your meta description. However, it’s the indirect benefit you get – Google sees your CTR (click-through rate) as a way of understanding if your website is offering value to users. It’s this boost in CTR that can help to increase your rankings. So no you’re not going to get better rankings directly as a result of writing a good meta description, but you are going to get better rankings if you can use your meta descriptions to increase your click-through rate.
We mentioned earlier that Google will usually show up to 155-160 characters but the meta description length should be anywhere been 50-160 characters. It’s all a balancing act between making it short and snappy (and clickable!), getting the key information across and making sure that it still makes sense. It’s best practice to write meta descriptions up to 160 characters in length, however, Google has been known to show some with up to 300 characters. It’s all about making sure you’re getting the right information across, in the most engaging way possible, focus on getting the right balance between providing value, and maximising CTR.
How can we make sure we stand out and catch people’s attention? A call to action telling users to take action now, for example, “Shop Now”, “Learn More” or “Find Out More”. It’s these kinds of phrases that are going to catch people’s attention. For example, if you’re a company who can offer some kind of free service shout about it! Tell users that they can “Try For Free” people will not be able to resist to see what you’re talking about, it’ll greatly help improve your CTR.
When writing the content for your webpage you should focus on certain keywords and aim to rank for these. It’s similar with your meta descriptions, you need to focus on the keywords that people are going to be searching for. While it won’t make your site rank better for keywords, it will make your meta description look more clickable, as keywords within it that match the search query are highlighted. If you do this it’s more likely to capture attention, and therefore gain more clicks than your competitors’ results.
If you try using your meta description to mislead your potential visitors it is likely that Google is going to penalize you for it. Not only this, but by doing this you’re also likely going to increase your bounce rate as it won’t be what people are wanting. So when writing your meta description make sure that what you’re typing is matching the content on the page.
If you’re thinking of putting your meta description as the same as another page, you would be better off just leaving your meta description blank. If you are thinking of putting two the same it is just a wasted opportunity to showcase what the page is about. Even if your page titles are different the descriptions will be the same and it’ll make the results look virtually the same. When you don’t put anything in Google will fill it automatically and pull a snippet from the page containing the keyword used in the query. Don’t miss out on the chance to optimise meta descriptions, and increase the CTR to your website.