A meta description summarizes the page that a user sees under the title and URL in the search engine’s result page (SERP). It provides a summary of the search result that helps the user understand the information on the page.
Below is an example of a meta description in the search result:
The Meta tags are present in the HTML web page and are easy to check via source code. You can do this by right-clicking anywhere on the page and selecting ‘view source code.’ You can see an example below:
There are many tools like the Screaming frog, which quickly helps you do this for multiple pages on a website.
Meta description directly does not play an important role in increasing the search ranking for a particular keyword. However, it acts as a key influencer.
A good meta description help users to understand whether the search result will answer their question. This will entice users to click the link and thus increase the CTR.
Even though our page might not rank really high on the search engine’s results page (SERP). It will have higher traffic, which is the end goal of ranking higher. The added advantage is that CTR is one of the factors that affect search ranking positively.
We should always remember that search engine algorithm keeps on evolving to provide a good user experience. Hence, our focus should also be on continuously providing a better user experience and not only focus on search engine ranking factors. This will help us be SEO proof even when there is a change in the future algorithm.
Given the importance of the meta description, marketers call it an ‘ad space’ for the page, which draws users to the website.
The code which is used to create meta description is:
<head> <meta name="description" content="This is the space where we will have to write a description about our page in 160 characters or less. This will show up in the search engine’s results page (SERP)."></head>
As you can see in the code, it is present in your HTML web page’s head section. However, if your website is being hosted on the WordPress platform, your task is even easier. There are many free and paid plugins, such as Yoast, which you can use to write a good meta description.
What are the best practices for writing a good meta description?
The average length of meta description is around 158-160 characters. If we go beyond the prescribed character limit, our content will be truncated, and only initial characters will be shown; the rest is replaced by “…”. To ensure that our description is visible on both desktop and mobile, it should be between 120-160 characters.
Though there is no problem using a lower character count while writing a meta description, using the optimal number of characters allows us to make the description as appealing as possible.
We should try to include the keyword phrase while writing a meta description. Google would highlight the words in the meta description, which matches the user’s search query by making it bold. If our page is ranking for the relevant keyword and is present in the meta description, the bold letters catch the eye.
As you can see in the example below, the words ‘dofollow’ and ‘nofollow link’ are highlighted in the meta description, which catches our attention.
This also helps us understand why our primary keyword should be in the title and meta description.
Though we are including the keyword in the meta description, we should always remember the golden rule about keywords. It should always look natural in our text.
Every page should have its own unique meta description, which should describe the page. Having the same meta description would be pointless. Rather than having the same meta description, we can exclude having any meta description. This way, search engines might use the most relevant copy from the page.
However, if we don’t include any meta description on the page, we should remember that the search engine might find the most relevant portion from our page in the meta description section. However, if we will share those links on our social media, it will take the first few lines from our page. However, there is an excellent chance that the first few lines might not give a good picture of the page.
A compelling description should be written to make the user click the link to find the answer to his search query. A good start in writing an appealing meta description is to do a Google search for the main keyword and check the competitors’ meta description.
5. Include call-to-actions
Call-to-actions are a great way of making use of human psychology. If we write an appealing description with a relevant call-to-action, then it urges the user to click on the link. For example, a ‘buy now’ call-to-action can be used for a product page. Some more examples are ‘Learn how to…’, ‘Discover how to…,’ ‘Read about…,’ ‘Take advantage…,’ ‘Sign up for a free trial….’
6. Social media platforms use it
Whenever we share the link of any page on social media platforms, they will use the meta description we have included. You can see it in the image below:
Otherwise, they will include the first couple of sentences. This might not provide an accurate description for our users.
This helps us provide an added boost to the readers who are considering to open and read the article.
7. Don’t include a meta description
It goes beyond the basic premise of this article on the importance of meta description. However, when you are writing an incredibly long article that might rank for multiple keywords. A one size fit solution might not work for all the keywords. The search engine would scrape the entire article to find the most relevant portion and thus provide users a search snippet that is most relevant to them.
Again, we should remember that when we share on social media, the first few lines of the page will be shown. Care should be taken when deciding when not to include. Alternatively, we can provide a meaningful start to the page, which might help us solve this problem.
Even though we might be using these best practices and create a rocking meta description, which might make the users click on our link, it is not a guarantee that the search engine will display the meta description that we have provided. However, this does not mean that we will not write a good description because Google sparingly provides meta description on its own. Most of the time, the meta description we have provided is shown to the users. Hence, writing one would help us always enhance our user experience.