What is a meta description in SEO?
When you type a keyword or phrase into a search engine, you are given a list of search results. The short descriptions found below the title and URL are referred to as meta descriptions.
Meta descriptions are important factors for SEO (search engine optimization), as they benefit both search engines and web users. Including target keywords in a meta description help signify relevancy to the search engine, and boost your page ranking. Meta descriptions also add value to web users by providing them with a clear summary of what the page is about.
How to write the perfect meta description
There are many best practices for writing a proper and compelling meta description. Below, we explain how to write an effective meta description that will benefit your users and your search rankings.
Optimize description length
Meta descriptions can technically be any length, but Google will truncate longer snippets to around 150-160 characters (about one to two sentences). Meta descriptions should be long enough to describe the content and attract users to click on the page, but short enough that they aren’t truncated.
Make it relevant
Include target keywords in your meta description. These help Google understand that your description is relevant to a user’s search and relevant to your page content. Be careful not to include too many keywords or keyword phrases – one to two is ideal. Any more and your meta description can appear unnatural and spam-like. Your description should read with proper grammar and provide clear context around your page content.
Include a call-to-action
Include a direct call-to-action in your meta description to help users know exactly what action they should take next. Examples include learn more, contact now, book a demo today, etc.
Use only alphanumeric characters
Non-alphanumeric characters like quotation marks, ampersands, or hyphens, can make it difficult for Google to read your meta description. In fact, double quotation marks can actually cause Google to cut off the description after the quotation mark.
Create unique meta descriptions for each page
Ensure every page on your website has a unique meta description – no duplicates. This ensures that each page has its own unique intent and identity. An easy way to keep your meta descriptions organized is to create a spreadsheet site. List the page name, target keyword, and meta description for each. Then you can easily review and edit your descriptions and quickly implement them on your website.
Avoid keyword stuffing.
Keyword stuffing is the practice of including an excessive number of keywords in an attempt to boost search ranking. This is an unnatural approach and not good practice in SEO. In fact, keyword stuffing is now considered a black-hat SEO tactic. In some cases, Google will actually penalize your website, demote your page ranking, or even remove your page from the search list.
Why meta descriptions are important for SEO
Meta descriptions are an important factor for search engine optimization and can have a significant impact on your page ranking, organic search traffic, and ultimately the number of conversions on your website. Here are a few reasons why you should prioritize writing meta descriptions.
Summarize pages at a glance
Google and other search engines show meta descriptions as a summary of your page on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). This acts like an organic text ad that helps readers understand what your website is all about and entices them to click on your page instead of a competitor’s.
Increase click-through rate
Writing a compelling meta description can actually increase your click-through rate on your organic search results. The more people that see your page in the search results and click on that page, the more website traffic you earn.
Improve user experience
Meta descriptions play an essential role in improving user experience as they allow you to communicate the value of your offering to a user before they even enter your website. The more relevant your meta description is to your offering, the more quickly someone can identify if what you have is what they need.