You’re working hard to promote your business. You’re writing product descriptions, optimizing images, and acing the majority of the other aspects of effective search engine optimization (SEO). Still, like many business owners, one aspect of SEO may be bothering you: meta descriptions.
Meta descriptions have always been an essential part of optimization. Although they do not help with rankings, they do help with other goals such as increasing click-through rates by enticing people to click on your listing rather than others that may not be as interesting.
Meta descriptions are considered an indirect signal because they have no direct impact on search rankings. But does this mean you should disregard them in your SEO efforts? Certainly not! You’ll learn how to write excellent meta descriptions that help search engines understand the content of your page and inspire searchers to click through and visit your website.
What is Meta Description?
A meta description is a meta tag that acts as a 155-160 character summary of a web page’s content. When the meta description includes the keywords being searched, it appears in search results. Meta descriptions, unlike page titles, are not a ranking factor, but they do entice users to click through to a page and are part of effective on-page SEO. You’ll notice them in the code of a page instead of the more traditional organic search results.
A meta description is the information snippet that appears beneath the blue link of a search result. Its purpose is to describe the page’s contents to the searcher. Any words in the description that match the search term are bolded. The ultimate goal is to persuade the searcher to click through to your website.
How Long Should It Be?
Google recently increased the standard meta description length. Previously, meta descriptions should be no more than 160 characters long. Google will display up to 275 characters on the SERP beginning in 2017. As a result, you should optimize your meta description tags to be as long as 275 characters.
What is SEO Description?
Your homepage is represented by the SEO site description. If search engines cannot find content more relevant to a visitor’s search terms, they will display this description in search results for your homepage. To include an SEO site description:
- Click Marketing, then SEO, from the Home menu.
- Click the Home tab in the Search appearance area.
- After editing the SEO site description field, click Save.
Users of search engines read meta descriptions to determine which search results to click on. Make your website more appealing by keeping your descriptions brief, relevant, and readable. To improve your SEO descriptions for search engines, do the following:
- Keep the text between 50 and 300 characters long.
- Use keywords to optimize your descriptions, but avoid keyword stuffing.
- Consider what your visitors are looking for and how you can entice them to visit your site.
Meta Descriptions Vs. SERP Snippets
Some people interchangeably use the terms “meta description” and “search snippet.” However, meta descriptions and search snippets are not the same things. You have control over the meta description HTML tag. You can create and optimize your meta descriptions. Google displays search snippets as descriptions for your web pages. It could be the meta description you wrote, or it could be something entirely different. This is under Google’s control.
Why would Google disregard your meta description? Google may generate a description for your web page that is completely different from the meta description you created based on the search query. This isn’t anything new. This process was long ago automated by Google. According to a recent comprehensive study conducted by Yoast:
- Google rewrites many search snippets on its own to better match the searcher’s query.
- Google used sentences from the first paragraph to create the search snippet in two-thirds of the cases they investigated. Of course, this does not imply that Google will do the same for your site, but it does suggest that an article introduction should consider whether it would be a good alternative to the meta description.
The distinction between meta descriptions and search snippets is critical, especially when Google makes announcements like increasing the length of search snippets (only to shorten snippets about six months later).
Why are Meta Descriptions Important for SEO?
Its goal is simple: it needs to get someone searching on Google with a search term to click your link. In other words, meta descriptions exist to encourage search engine click-throughs. The meta description has no direct SEO benefit, according to search engines, because it is not used in their ranking algorithm. However, there is an indirect benefit: Google uses click-through rate (CTR) to determine whether you are a good result. If more people click on your result, Google considers you to be a good result and will move you up the rankings based on your position. This is why optimizing your meta description, as well as your titles, is critical. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that Google will display your meta description. However, because there’s a chance it will, it’s always worth the effort to include it in your post or page.
As more ranking factors have entered the picture, meta descriptions have become less important and are no longer used in ranking at all. Indeed, Google confirmed in 2009 that, while meta information was used by search engines in ranking in Google’s early days, it had been devalued long before then. So, how do they function today? By doing the following, meta descriptions can help drive clicks, traffic, potential conversions, and revenue:
- Increasing a site’s SERP CTR: Several studies have been conducted over the years that support the notion that well-written and properly optimized meta descriptions can increase your CTR.
- Higher quality traffic: The higher you rank in the SERPs, the more likely you will receive clicks, which will result in higher quality traffic.
- Potential conversions: Creating a well-written meta description that is closely related to the topic of the page, interesting to users, and highly optimized for user intent can significantly incr
- ease search conversions to your site.
Tips to Write Meta Descriptions Effectively
According to Google, a meta description should tell users what the web page is about. The search engine ranks results based on the information in the meta description. Consider meta descriptions to be a sales pitch for your website. Explain why the page will be useful to the reader and ensure that it accurately reflects what’s on the page. If a reader does not find what the meta description promises, they will most likely click away. Let’s get started with some meta description writing tips.
Examine Your Competitors
Whatever your industry, SERP research will show you what works for your competitors – and who you need to beat. Over the next few days, weeks, and months, keep an eye on relevant SERPs. Determine which meta descriptions appear in the top positions for the keywords you want to rank for. It’s easier said than done. It can be time-consuming to manually go through each search result and determine what your competition’s weakness is. We were looking at the competition because the competition usually implements techniques that are currently working. We were looking at the competition because the competition usually implements techniques that are currently working.
Next, examine your competition and determine what they are doing for their brands. You can quickly and easily export Google SERPs to an Excel Spreadsheet by using the SEO Quake Google Chrome extension. This allows you to keep a running tally of your competitors and track them easily and efficiently on a monthly basis, without incurring exorbitant monthly costs.
Create a Customer Journey Map
Determine your ideal buying journey for your target audience and what happens at each stage of the marketing funnel. Because the marketing funnel varies greatly depending on your target market, sharing a specific funnel to follow here would be pointless. Based on your findings, target and tailor your meta descriptions.
Make Use of Your Brand’s Distinct Tone and Style
Every brand should have a distinct tone of voice that is consistent with its brand identity; this is how the brand appears to users online. Each meta description should be carefully crafted and tailored to how the brand’s tone of voice spreads throughout its ecosystem. Would you use the same tone of voice on a corporate law website as you would on a daycare website? So why would you use a consistent tone of voice from page to page? The main advantage of tone of voice is that it reaches different personas who are looking for specific keywords.
It is possible to reach your target audience with a level of sophistication and optimization that truly resonates by targeting personas with user intent and combining keywords with this research.
Include Keywords for Target Audience
Google maintains that they do not use keywords in meta descriptions for ranking purposes. But what do you see when you conduct SERP research? Keywords highlighted in the meta description This is not conclusive proof that Google uses it, but it can direct your reader to the most relevant result that will satisfy their query. You’ll get the click if your meta description matches their intent better than any other result that appears.
Use Trending Social Headlines
As a social media expert, you’re most likely on the cutting edge of your industry when it comes to determining what’s hot and what’s not for your target audience. Your strategy should already include the following influencer accounts and industry firms. Taking it a step further, determine which topics are currently trending in your industry and examine the meta descriptions for the top-ranking results. Google Trends, BuzzSumo, and Twitter’s Trending Topics are all good places to look to see what’s trending in your industry.
If the search keyword matches a portion of the meta description text, Google is more likely to use it and highlight it in the search results. This will make the link to your website more appealing. Google will sometimes highlight synonyms. Both the Academy Awards and the Oscars are highlighted in the example below. Having your results highlighted in this way makes them stand out even more.
Identify a Specific Search Intent
Prospective customers may be turned off by generic meta descriptions and hollow phrases like “best widgets” and other sales-speak. It is critical to instill confidence in your audience that your result will satisfy their user intent for the query. You want to talk about what your readers really want, not try to sway them into your own sales funnel.
Update the Meta Descriptions for Older Content
Refreshing stale content on a website can be beneficial to the site and is an excellent way to increase traffic to older pages. Additionally, by refreshing your meta descriptions, you may gain more traction from social media. If you perform a systematic refresh of all of your meta descriptions, you can re-share and gain more visibility from older posts.
Make it Unique
People frequently inquire about the date displayed in the Google preview of our Yoast SEO plugin. We’ve included this because search engines may display a date alongside your snippet. As a result, it’s critical to consider it when determining the appropriate length for your meta description. Unfortunately, there is no direct way to control whether or not this date is displayed, but you can try to manage the dates they use in the search results.
If your meta description is the same as those on other pages, Google’s user experience will suffer. Even if your page titles differ, all pages will appear the same because all descriptions are the same. You’d be better off leaving it blank rather than creating duplicate meta descriptions. Google will select a snippet from the page containing the query’s keyword. However, creating a unique meta description for each page you want to rank with is always the best practice.
All of this must be done while adhering to character limits, proper branding and tone of voice, and page-specific optimizations. It’s a delicate balance to strike while also incorporating common SEO elements. If you only remember one thing from this chapter, let it be this: always write your meta descriptions with the goal of improving user experience and providing useful information. Meta descriptions excel at this. They will not help you rank higher in search, but they will help you win more search clicks by demonstrating to users the value that your page has to offer.