If you’re a website owner and are looking for ways to get more clicks from search engines to your site, the humble META Description can help you get there.
A META Description is the snippet of text underneath a link in a search engine.
While the link is what people click on, it’s the META Description that will persuade them to click. Think of it as the sales pitch for that particular page.
How Long Should a META Description Be?
META Descriptions don’t have a definitive length, but ideally should be between 150-160 characters. Any longer, then you run the risk of Google truncating, or even worse, selecting their own description of the page which might not be something that helps you drive more traffic.
META Descriptions Best Practices
Each page on your website should have a unique META Description. If you have a WordPress website, you will be able to create your own Description before publishing a piece of content.
This website runs on the Genesis theme by StudioPress, so when authoring a new piece of content, the META Description field is easy to find.
A piece of advice that was given to me early in my SEO career was to start META Descriptions with an action verb. Spending some time thinking about the content on the page. What action do you want someone to take that would encourage them to click on the search engine link? What are they going to be doing once they click the link?
For example, the META Description for this post is the following:
Learn about what a META Description is, and how it can help you get more traffic from search engines.
So I start with an action verb, Learn, and then describe what the content on the page is, and what the value-prop is to a potential visitor. I mean who doesn’t want to get more traffic from search engines?
To that point, if you have an image heavy site, or are an artist or photographer and you have an image as a page, a META Description describing the art work would be absolutely appropriate.
Do META Descriptions Help with SEO?
In the mid-late 2000’s, search engine optimizers would stuff keywords into the META Description (and the META Keyword tag) because they thought there was a direct correlation between the Description and the ranking of the content. However, this isn’t the case.
Google announced via a blog post that they don’t use the Description in how they rank a piece of content. However, a well-written META Description will influence the CTR (Click-Thru-Rate) in its search engine results, and since Google wants to display the best results, if your website has a higher CTR than another, that shows positive user interaction that may be a better match for what a person is searching for.
Google may choose to not display the META Description you spent time writing. Why does this happen? Aside from the length of the description, it may be that Google thinks that the description you wrote doesn’t adequately match the content on the page. If this happens, try crafting another description that more matches the content.
More META Description Learnings
Need some help with your Descriptions? Check out the links below for some additional reading.
- Learn more about META Descriptions – Moz
- Title and META Description Length Tool – To the Web
- More about META Descriptions – Google Search Central
Hopefully you’ve learned something about META Descriptions and are now inspired to go away and craft unique ‘sales pitches’ for all the pages on your website. Spending a few minutes on each page will help you acquire more intentional search engine traffic and more informed visitors.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this post, you might enjoy the post I wrote about optimizing your Page Titles.