SEO, Page Meta description, and How to Create it Properly
SEO, Page Meta description, and How to Create it Properly.
We have compiled these articles on the importance of page meta descriptions and how to apply them properly. Take the time to read and see if there is something you can glean to make your page search engine optimization more effective.
SEO Meta Descriptions: The What, Why, and How
When it comes to using content to improve a web page’s value, it isn’t all about the copy on the page. There are hidden HTML attributes and metadata blurbs you can add to the back end of a webpage to send valuable signals to search engines and readers.
What is An SEO Meta Description?
A meta description is a blurb of text that provides a brief description of a webpage. This text appears as a meta tag in a page’s HTML code. The HTML version of the text looks like this.
Text from SEO meta descriptions also appears on search engine results pages (SERPs). The blurb is a part of a larger snippet that also includes a:
- Title Tag: You can add a differing version of the page title to HTML.
- Slug: The URL for the page.
Together, the title tag, slug, and meta description create the snippet that appears on a search results page.
This copy also appears in a few other places associated with the webpage. For example, the title tag appears in a web browser tab, and the title tag and meta descriptions. In addition, these tags appear on social media posts.
Why Should You Use SEO Meta Descriptions?
While Google has said that meta descriptions are not a ranking factor, this content is still an essential part of driving traffic and improving a page’s performance in search.
1. A meta description is like a mini ad for a webpage.
When SEO meta descriptions appear on SERPs and social media feeds, they act as a small promo for the webpage. The copy allows marketers to promote the page and tell readers why they should click on it.
2. Defined meta descriptions look better in search results.
When you don’t tell search engines and social platforms which page description to use, they decide for themselves. This could result in an unflattering appearance for your page snippet. For example, the text could be cut off, essential details could be missing, and irrelevant page data could appear. Defining the text you want to use allows you to ensure the best, most relevant content appears.
3. Strategic meta descriptions increase click-through rates.
When optimized adequately for audiences, meta descriptions receive more clicks. Make it clear in your meta description that the page offers the search intent of the keyword you’re trying to rank for. More users will choose the result because they can see that it provides what they need.
4. Higher click-through rates increase search rankings.
While an SEO meta description won’t increase a page’s search rankings on its own, the results of a well-crafted meta description can boost a page’s rankings. For example, when a link is frequently clicked on in search results, it sends signals to search engines telling them that the page is essential and a good result that users prefer. This helps boost a page’s rankings in search results.
5. Meta descriptions can be a part of a larger rich snippet plan.
Search engine results aren’t restricted to displaying only a title, slug, and description. There are various other tags (or schema) that can add bonus-rich snippets to search engine results.
Characteristics of a good meta description
Based on the research I did on this topic, as well as my own experience, I came up with this list of elements you need to write a good meta description:
1. Keep it up to 155 characters
The right length doesn’t exist; it depends on the message you want to convey. You should take enough space to get the message across but keep it short and snappy at the same time. However, if you check the search results in Google, you’ll mostly see snippets of 120 to 156 characters, like in the example below.
Unfortunately, we can’t fully control what Google displays in the search results. Sometimes it decides to show the meta description, and sometimes it just grabs some sentences of your copy. Either way, your best bet is to keep it short. That way, if Google does decide to show the meta description you’ve written, it won’t be cut short.
2. Use active voice and make it actionable
If you consider the meta description of the invitation to your page, you have to think about your user and their (possible) motivation to visit your page. So make sure that your description isn’t dull, complicated, or too cryptic. People need to know what they can expect to find on your page.
The example in the image below is the kind of description you should strive to write. It’s active, motivating, and addressing you directly. You know what you’re going to get if you click on the link!
3. Include a call-to-action
“Hello, we have such and such new product, and you want it. Find out more!” This overlaps with what I said about the active voice, but I wanted to emphasize it again. The meta description is your sales text. Except, in this case, the “product” you are trying to sell is the page that is linked. Invitations like Learn more, Get it now, Try for free come in handy, and use them too.
4. Use your focus keyword
If the search keyword matches a part of the text in the meta description, Google will be more inclined to use it and highlight it in the search results. This will make the link to your site even more inviting. In addition, Google sometimes even highlights synonyms. In the example below, both the Academy Awards and Oscars are highlighted. Getting your results emphasized like that makes them stand out even more.
5. Show specifications, where possible
If you have a product for the tech-savvy, it can be a good idea to focus on the technical specs. For example, you can include the manufacturer, SKU, price, things like that. If the visitor is specifically looking for that product, chances are you won’t have to convince them as in the example below. The watch can help me stay fit? Sign me up; that’s all I needed to know. Note that to optimize your result in this manner, you should work on getting rich snippets.
6. Make sure it matches the content of the page
This is an important one. Google will find out if you use the meta descriptions to trick visitors into clicking on your result. They might even penalize you if you do it. But besides that, misleading descriptions will probably also increase your bounce rate. Which will also lower people’s trust in your company. It’s a bad idea for that reason alone. That is why you want the meta description to match the content on the page.
7. Make it unique
If your meta description is the same as those for other pages, the user experience in Google will be hampered. Although your page titles might vary, all pages will appear to be the same because all the descriptions are the same. Instead of creating duplicate meta descriptions, you’d be better off leaving it blank. Google will pick a snippet from the page containing the keyword used in the query. That being said, writing a unique meta description for every page you want to rank with is always the best practice.
Where do I add the meta description?
You can add a meta description in the <head> section of your site’s HTML. It should look something like this:
<meta name=”description” content=”Here is a precise description of my awesome webpage.”>
You should have complete control of your meta description in your CMS, mainly if you’re using WordPress.
How to write a great meta description
Meta description checklist
- Keywords: do make sure your most important keywords for the webpage show up in the meta description. Often search engines will highlight in bold where it finds the searchers query in your snippet.
- Write legible, readable copy: this is essential. Keyword stuffing your meta description is wrong, and it doesn’t help the searcher as they’ll assume your result leads to a spammy website. Instead, make sure your description reads like a typical, human-written sentence.
- Treat the meta description as if it’s an advert for your webpage: make it as compelling and as relevant as possible. Of course, the description MUST match the content on the page, but you should also make it as appealing as possible.
- Length: a meta description should be no longer than 135 – 160 characters long (although Google has recently been testing more extended snippets). Search engines will chop the end off any longer, making sure any essential keywords are nearer the front.
- Do not duplicate meta descriptions: As with title tags, the meta descriptions must be written differently for every page. Again, Google may penalize you for mass repeating your meta descriptions.
- Consider using rich snippets: by using schema markup, you can add elements to the snippets to increase their appeal. For instance: star ratings, customer ratings, product information, calorie counts, etc.
Good examples of meta descriptions
Here are a few examples of appealing meta descriptions that tick the above criteria.
‘best burgers in London’
Although the keywords are further down the description than perhaps they ought to be, the reason why this result is so appealing is the way the copy draws you in with emotive (and mouth-watering) language.
Heads up: Google doesn’t always use meta descriptions
It’s important to know that Google won’t always display your descriptions as intended. In fact, according to a Moz analysis, only 35.9% of original meta description tags are shown “as is” in Google search.
The Moz study, which examined 70,059 original meta description examples, also discovered that:
- In 15.4% of cases, Google used the original meta description tag but added some text.
- In 51.3% of cases, the display snippet perfectly matched the meta description tag or fully contained it.
- In 3.2% of cases, the display snippet used a truncated version of the meta description tag with an ellipsis on the end.
In total, Google used all or part of the original meta description in 55% of cases.
So what’s going on here? First, Google may choose to overrule the meta descriptions in the HTML of your web pages if they don’t adequately answer a user’s query, instead, using a snippet from your page that provides a better match for the query.
Or, Google might use your existing meta description. It depends on what the user has entered in a search.
Try to ignore the background noise, use meta tags to boost your SERP (Search Engine Ranking Position). Do not worry too much about being technical. Write good meta tags for people, and Google will love you for it!
Article compiled by hughesagency.ca
Reference article links:
- https://blog.alexa.com/seo-meta-descriptions/ ↑
- https://yoast.com/meta-descriptions/ ↑
- https://www.searchenginewatch.com/2016/05/26/how-to-write-meta-descriptions-for-seo-with-good-and-bad-examples/ ↑
- https://themeisle.com/blog/meta-description-examples/ ↑