There’s a lot of truncated information about meta descriptions floating around on the internet. If you’re having doubts about the usage of your meta descriptions and the role they play in the on-page SEO, this should clear a few things up.
What is a meta description?
A meta description is essentially an HTML attribute that is supposed to briefly explain the webpage’s content. A meta description will appear right under the clickable link, in the search engine results pages.
Is it a ranking factor?
Google was very clear almost a decade ago that neither meta descriptions or meta keywords factor into Google’s ranking algorithms for web search. I know some conspiracy theorists are speculating the opposite, but there’s no evidence to suggest that. Even more, all the other major search engines are on board with Google on this subject. Here’s what a Google representative had to say about this topic:
Even if the meta description isn’t a factor in the ranking algorithms, you might see a positive impact on your page’s ability to rank if you write your descriptions properly. I say this because an enticing meta description will impact the page’s CTR (click-through-rate) – more details on this below.
Although meta descriptions can be of any length, Google (and all the other search engines) will truncate the snippets that are over 160 characters. However, Google increased this limit at the end of 2017 to around 300 characters.
Even though we encourage all of you to go for long long descriptions that are sufficiently descriptive, aiming for the 300 character count is not effective. Instead, focus on letting the users know exactly what the page is about and make it engaging so you drive clicks.
Even if meta description tags aren’t in any way relevant to the search engine ranking, they are extremely effective in encouraging user click-through from SERPs.
Right now, meta descriptions are the best way to advertise your content to searchers. For every search query, a user has tons of links to choose from, so make sure all your meta tags are relevant and enticing.
Other Best Practices
To make things even clearer, we decided to feature a few other pointers that will help you write the perfect meta descriptions for your pages:
- Use an active voice to make it actionable – Dull descriptions won’t get you anywhere. Regardless of your niche, do your best to make the meta description an invitation to the page.
- Use call-to-actions – Things like “Find out more!”, “Learn More” or “See for yourself!” might sound outdated but they still work very well.
- Use a structure – It’s very important that you use this limited space well. Depending on what the page is about, think of the aspects that usually convince you (the webmaster) to click links. If you’re selling something that has a killer price, mention it in the meta description.
- Make use of bold keywords – Keep in mind that most search engines (including Google) bold those keywords that are matching the search query. You can use this trick to draw the eyes of the searchers towards your page.
- Avoid duplicate meta descriptions – Whatever you do, don’t use the same meta description on multiple pages because you’ll confuse both search engines and searchers. If you don’t have time to write original descriptions, use a programmatic way of creating meta descriptions. SmartCrawl is a good option.
Although it’s not a ranking factor, a compelling meta description capable of raising the click-through rate will boost your organic search results. Google does not care if you stuff it full of keywords or not. As long as the searchers are convinced to click the link above, Google will boost your page accordingly.
What are your best practices when writing the meta descriptions? Let us know in the comment section below.