What Is A Meta Description? – And Why They Are Important For SEO

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What Is A Meta Description?

A meta description is an HTML tag that describes what a web pages content is about. The meta description will show up below the title and URL of your page as it appears in search results. In order for the meta tag to remain visible and not become truncated, it should be somewhere between 140 and 160 characters in length.

Meta Tags That Google Understands

Why Are Meta Descriptions Important?

Simple, since meta descriptions appear with your title and URL on search results pages, they have the ability to either help or hurt your results click-through rates ( CTR’s ). Having the keyword in the body of the meta description is a relevancy signal for search engines that can help with your rankings.

It isn’t a big signal, but it can definitely play a major role if used naturally without keyword stuffing your descriptions. As far as search results go, your meta description packs the most punch ( two lines of text compared to one line for the title and one line for the URL ), so take advantage of the opportunity to attract visitors to your website with a meaningful message.

Improve Your Meta Descriptions

Click through rates on the SERP’s are seen as a potential ranking factor, so the easiest way to make your meta descriptions SEO-friendly is to write them with the intention of getting more clicks. You should think of your search results like a conventional ad in a newspaper or magazine. Old school print advertising used headlines and taglines to entice someone to call a phone number or travel to an address to purchase something in-store.

With search results your page is your title headline, your meta description is your tagline, and your URL is the address. Meta descriptions are really just a micro-pitch for web pages, you should fill them with relevant language that will make people want to click on your result.

Write a description that delivers your websites unique selling points. Now think to yourself, why is my web page particularly better than all the other pages in the results? Make an emotional appeal with your message, emotional advertising has found a lot of success tapping into peoples feelings.

Studies suggest that human emotions can be categorized into four types:image of emotional human

  • Angry/Disgusted
  • Afraid/Surprised
  • Happy
  • Sad

Google allows room for approximately a 1-2 sentence ( 160 characters ) summary below each search result.

So, in a very brief one to two sentences, your meta descriptions should offer compelling reasons why someone should visit your web page. Remember to add a clear call-to-action, address an emotional point of view, or offer a specific benefit to the visitor.

If your meta description is too long it simply won’t fit, and people will likely just glance over it. If it’s too vague and not compelling enough, people won’t feel the need to go and have a look since there are lots of other results to go and check out. So always aim to connect with the searcher’s emotions in two sentences or less.

It is also highly important that the descriptions for every page on your website are Unique. Studies indicate that nearly 30% of sites had duplicate meta descriptions, and 25% had pages with no meta descriptions what so ever.

Make Your Meta Descriptions SEO Friendly

These tips should help to encourage clicks and bring visitors to your website:

  • Keep meta descriptions to around 1-2 sentences ( 140 – 160 characters in length )
  • Don’t forget to include keywords
  • Avoid duplicate meta descriptions
  • Add a call-to-action if it’s relevant
  • Target an emotion
  • Make them meaningful and informative, match your content

Check Out Google’s New – Better Snippets For Your Users

Here Are A Couple Of  Helpful Tools For Checking Your Meta Descriptions

Use these tools to test your meta descriptions as you write them:

  • SEMrush SEO Ideas – This SEMrush Project tool checks to see if you have a keyword in your title and meta tag and suggests the right one if you don’t. SEO Ideas also offers a detailed list of actionable, tailor-made optimization tips for each page of your website.
  • Portent – This SERP view generator lets you enter your meta description along with a title and URL to test how your search result will appear. You can check the pixel width of your title, the character length of your description, and test how different keywords within your description will look when bolded.


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This article has 2 Comments

    1. Agree 100%. SEO doesn’t have to be difficult and i think a lot of website owners are afraid of it, but the basics are easy to learn and understand and more folks need to spend a little time learning SEO, and once you do the results can be very surprising. Cheers!

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