The meta description or meta description tag is a short paragraph that summarizes the content of a specific web page. The meta tag’s general purpose is to help search engines index the page based on the description provided.
It’s important to point out that meta descriptions have little impact on search engine rankings. Yet, meta descriptions are crucial to driving customers to your business website and should be considered carefully. Meta descriptions increase a website’s overall quality and click-through rate on the search engine results page (SERP). In addition, generating strong meta descriptions is a terrific strategy to get ahead of your relevant competitors.
In general, there are a few best practices you can follow to ensure that your metadescriptions take full advantage of the space you're allotted in the SERPs. You'll want to ensure:
- Relevant and popular search terms are incorporated.
- Clear explanation of benefits and features.
- Proper call-to-action is used.
- In addition, adding USPs and a unique description will help to create a quality meta description.
If a webpage does not have a meta description, then the search engine will create a meta description on its own. This meta description will be created most likely based on the engine’s interpretation of the webpage content.
How to Complete:
The meta description is hidden and not readily viewable on the actual page. Don’t underestimate its importance though. To add or edit the meta description of a specific page, follow these four quick steps shown below. We used Kennington Jewelers as our example business website.
- You will need to right click on the page and select View Page Source
- Search for “Description” by using the search command control + F.
- Locate the text that reads “<meta name=”description” content=”.
- Add or edit a meta description between the quotes that appears after content=.
Guidelines for High-Quality Meta Descriptions:
Here are a few important guidelines that you should consider before writing your own meta description.
- Content: It is essential to have the meta description accurately convey a summary of the specific web page. Search engines will be notified of the page’s subject and that it deserves to be optimized and ranked. If you don’t provide a concise summary of the page content, it might be considered as spamming.
- Keywords: It is helpful to add the top keyword phrases that typically are used to find your page in the meta description. With this tactic, these keywords are highlighted in the search results and will increase the prominence of your page compared to other results. The keyword phrases should be chosen based on the relevancy to the specific page.
- Length: We recommend that meta tag descriptions contain between 12 to 20 words or a maximum of 200 characters including spaces.
- Redundancy: Create unique meta descriptions by not duplicating information from the title of the webpage or other content covered elsewhere on the page. Use the space wisely to write quality meta content that will help deliver relevant traffic to your site.
- Uniqueness: Each page should be different on your website. It’s important to customize the meta description to each page, which will powerfully convey the content.
- Voice: It is important to maintain an authentic voice. At the same time, make the meta content look enticing and valuable, so the user feels inclined to click and visit your page!
When users search for a keyword or business, they are given countless site options after reaching the SERP. To increase the click-through rate to your site, here are some common pitfalls to dodge when writing meta descriptions:
- Even though meta descriptions are no longer included in the search engine ranking equation, this doesn’t mean you should avoid them altogether!
- Try to stay away from creating one description and using it for other pages of the website. For a full optimized website, each page needs to have its own brief and unique meta description faithfully conveying the present information.
- Avoid creating a meta description that is vague or not related to the content of the page.
- Take the time to add an effective call-to-action if it fits in the copy. It will take some time to write out a good meta description but the effort is worth it.
- The act of keyword stuffing your meta descriptions is something you want to avoid. Google and Bing view over-stuffing as a warning sign; it’s not something you want to mess around with.