Meta descriptions are an HTML attribute that shows a snippet that is used to summarize and describe a web page’s content. Meta descriptions will be displayed under the title tag on search engine results pages (SERPs) and it can influence your website’s click-through rate, thus, playing a significant role in on-page SEO.
Why Are Meta Descriptions Important?
The short meta description will give users a window into what the page has to offer, and if it is what they are looking for or not. Although it will not assist in search engine ranking, the meta descriptions are important in increasing your click-through rate, which in turn, can have a positive impact on the web page’s ability to rank. Therefore, it is paramount to not think of meta descriptions as a ranking factor, but instead as a conversion factor.
Optimal Length and Format
Meta descriptions can be as long as you want, however, Google generally cuts off snippets after 150-160 characters. It’s best to keep your meta description long enough so that you can sufficiently describe your web page, but also short enough to where it doesn’t get cut off. But the exact length is context-dependent, and your goal should be to provide as much value as possible in order to drive clicks.
The format should be read in a natural, active, and ‘real’ way. In other words, it should follow natural speech and explain the content of the page in a way that even the less savvy users will understand. It should not be spammy, and the meta description should intelligently contain (focus) keywords that the page wants to rank for, whilst being captivating enough to make the user click on the web page. Moreover, it should be relevant, but also unique from the meta descriptions of similar pages.
There are many ways to build a great meta description, but here are some of the most common practices on writing simple, yet efficient meta descriptions.
1. Write a Compelling Ad Copy
The meta description essentially serves the role of an advertising copy. That is because, like an ad, it grabs the reader’s attention to a website from the search engine results page and is therefore an important part of search engine marketing. As a result, writing a compelling and pleasantly readable description using focus keywords will improve the click-through rate of your web page. How you phrase your descriptions can either make or break its effectiveness, so make sure you add words that bring value and describe the contents to the users.
2. Avoid Duplicate Meta Descriptions
Similarly to title tags, you want to make the meta description of each web page different and unique. Different web pages with identical meta descriptions do not add specific value to the web page. Instead, they become repetitive and can actually do a bit of harm to your regular readers, as they will start ignoring your meta descriptions altogether thus missing any changes you may make. By writing an original description, you will ensure that all of your users are reading a description that is relevant to the web page being shown.
3.Write Calls to Action
Using language such as ‘click here’, ‘learn more by clicking here’ and ‘download here’ will entice readers to do just that – go to your web page. Of course, the wording you choose will depend on the context and content of the web page.
Feel free to experiment. If you have certain pages that receive a good amount of organic traffic, experiment with alternative variations of your meta description to see if you can increase click-throughs. You can do this by changing the description lengths, phrasing and also where in the description your keywords are positioned.