What’s a meta description?
A meta description is the most vital part of SEO that doesn’t have an impact on rankings (technically speaking). On a search engine results page, each search result comprises at least three main components:
- A linked page title
- A URL that appears under the page title (in green)
- A short text (1 – 2 lines) describing the contents of the page
Now, that short text is the meta description. Mostly, you can ensure that the description conveys the message you want to by inserting a meta description tag in your HTML. This tag looks like: <meta name=”description” content = “Your meta description”>.
When using a WordPress website that has an SEO plug-in, you don’t have to deal with the HTML. Just search for the description section when inserting the SEO information for every page.
Adding a meta description to all of your web pages makes it easier for search engines like Google to determine what it needs to display in the description section of the search engine results page of your page. You should note that not every time Google relies on the description that you give entirely.
There are certain scenarios where it will get the meta description from the text on your page. However, you should never forget to provide a meta description since it remains to be an important part of on-site SEO.
The importance of Meta descriptions
As we highlighted earlier, meta descriptions are not given a big consideration by search engines when determining which sites need to rank for particular terms. That means, getting your meta description right will not make a difference when it comes to search engine algorithms—but why is it still important?
This is simple—your ultimate objective is not rankings, but clicks. The whole idea of getting better rankings in search engines is to direct more clicks to your site, and your meta description will give you the chance to convince searchers to click on your site, rather than your competitors’.
A well-written meta description can boost your CTR (click-through rate). And, even though Google doesn’t admit openly that CTR is a ranking factor, most SEO experts agree that CTR has an impact on your rankings.
That means a good and strong meta description can indirectly increase boost your ranking and directly boost your traffic. These two goals make spending time when writing your meta description worth it.
How do you write the best meta descriptions
There is one thing that you will realize when it comes to writing meta descriptions—you don’t have a lot of space. That means you must make the space that you have count. The following are 8 tips that will assist you to write meta descriptions that will boost the rankings of your site.
Write unique meta descriptions for each page
You should never write one meta description for every page on your site. Even though this might be easy, you will be wasting your chance to market the content on every single page on your site to the searchers looking exactly for the information the pages provide.
Therefore, you need to make sure that you write a unique description for each page on your site, and this should be based on the content on the page, as well as the primary keyword targeted by the page.
Check your characters
Google increased the number of characters needed for meta descriptions from 160 to 320 back in 2017. In May 2018, the characters were shortened again to 160. Now, this is the maximum number of characters needed when creating a meta description, and the excess characters will be cut off.
When creating a meta description for every page on your website, consider the most essential message that you should give for users to click on your page. If you need only 120 characters to sell the content on your page, you don’t have to prolong the meta description just to make use of the provided space. However, you will realize that the space provided to work with gives you more room to pass the message you want—and you need to capitalize on this.
Your target keyword should appear naturally
Looking at the meta descriptions in Google search results, you will realize that keywords are usually bolded in the sections where they appear.
This assists searchers to identify search results that are most relevant to their search query. For the sites that show up in the search results, the bolding is a good way for them to stand out and draw the searcher’s attention.
Although you cannot predict which specific terms your site will rank for, you can boost your chances of having bolded terms in your meta description on the search engine results page by making sure that you insert your target keyword in your meta description. However, you should ensure that the keyword appears naturally—you should never force it. Also, keyword stuffing can make the meta description harder to understand, and this can also affect your rankings.
Highlight the value of the web page
The idea behind your meta description is to market your web page. Now, for every web page on your site, think of the benefits it provides to the reader. This is what you should emphasize when writing the page’s meta description.
Ensure that you think about the page from a visitor’s point of view. What issues does the content on the page solve? What questions do the visitors have that the page answers? And lastly, what makes the page better than the other results that people will see alongside your page on the search engine results page?
Give accurate information about the page
When writing your meta description, ensure that that it shows what people will see when they visit the page. Getting clicks because of overselling or misrepresenting what’s on the web page is not worth it—AT ALL! With this, you risk losing your visitors and also increase your bounce rates. Therefore, you should ensure that delivers whatever is highlighted in the meta description.
Don’t forget to include a CTA
Calls to action (CTA) are usually effective since they encourage users to take action. Therefore, don’t forget to urge people to click on your page using words like “discover,” “read more,” or “learn how.”
Use schema markup whenever suitable
One of the greatest challenges to search engine results pages since Google started has been the increased use of rich snippets. Although they don’t appear for every search that you make, there are certain types of online searches that you will see extra information added in the search engine result page listing, like calories for recipes or pricing for certain products.
Now, you need to familiarize yourself with the various types of rich snippets, and then start including schema markup on web pages where this additional information is valuable and relevant to the searcher.
Proofread your meta description
By now, you know how to proofread the content on your pages before they go live—but you also need to ensure that you do the same for all your meta descriptions. If you are writing several meta descriptions, you can easily forget to proofread them. However, an error in your biggest sales pitch for your pages can cost you clicks, as well as affect your online reputation.