What is a Meta Description?
A meta description is the brief, 140-160 character summary of the content of a webpage. This description is located beneath the Title and URL of the webpage in a list of snippet results for a query. (See the sample of a meta description in the blue box below.)
Why are Meta Descriptions Important?
Having a great meta description is like having a catchy product label at the grocery store. People are more likely to notice your product if it stands out. When people search Google or another search engine, these meta descriptions are your opportunity to grab their attention and convince them to visit your website over another.
Do Meta Descriptions Help with SEO?
Technically, because meta descriptions are not used in Google’s ranking algorithm, they themselves do not have a direct SEO impact. It’s their indirect benefit on SEO that’s so important: meta descriptions generate clicks and click through rates (CTR) are a factor in SEO ranking. The more clicks your site is getting for a query, the more relevant your page is assumed to be, and the higher it will rank in the list of results.
How to Write a Good Meta Description
Here are some simple tips for writing a meta description that will provide the greatest benefit to your website.
- Keep it Brief: Be sure your meta description is between 140 and 155 characters. The idea is to have the most impact within just 1-2 sentences.
- Include Your Focus Keyphrase Your focus keyphrase (also known as focus keywords or target keywords) is the search phrase for which you want your page to rank. For example, if you want your webpage to show up in a search for “organic wine,” then include that focus keyphrase in the title, slug, and meta description of your webpage. Not only will this assist Google in prioritizing your page for a specific search, but oftentimes Google will also bold any keyphrases in your snippet that match the search query. This makes your link even more appealing to a searcher.
- Prioritize Accuracy: Always make sure your meta description is an accurate description of what’s really on the page. Not only can you be penalized for inaccurate meta descriptions, but it will inevitably increase your bounce rate and in turn, affect your SEO if you provide misleading metas.
- Don’t Duplicate: You want a unique meta description for any page of your website for which you want to rank in search. Google assumes that duplicate meta descriptions mean duplicate content and poor user experience.
- Add a Call to Action (CTA): Don’t forget to weave in a CTA like “Try Now, Get it Today, Learn More, or Click for Details” that will entice users to click. It’s also important to use active, actionable language. Eg:
“Never write a social media post again! Become a Brandabl member and get access to 1000’s of prewritten social media posts for Med Spas. Try it FREE today!”
- Include Product Specs: Don’t be afraid to get specific about the product listed on the page. It can be helpful to list the manufacturer, SKU, and price in your meta descriptions when applicable.
Support Your Meta Description with a Strong SEO Title
The SEO title is also known as the HTML title tag or page title. The SEO title is independent from the H1 title tag on the page; it tells people what your page is about before they open it. An SEO title can very well use the exact same text as your H1 title—but it doesn’t have to. For example, below are 3 title formats popular amongst SEO strategists:
Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword\Category | Brand Name
Primary Keyword – Click-through Optimization Phrase | Brand Name
Primary Keyword – Current Month Current Year | Brand Name
For maximum effectiveness, we recommend that you include your focus keyphrase at the front and you keep your SEO title between 60-65 characters.
Fun Fact: Rather than specifying a character or word limit for SEO titles, Google instead allocates fixed width space for SEO titles, measured in pixels. Titles that are too long run the risk of being rewritten or truncated with ellipses. Characters vary in pixel width and Google is constantly making updates, but using the tips mentioned above will give you the best chance of maximizing the space while preserving visibility.
Achieving Your SEO Goals
Whether you’re managing a blog, selling a product, or advertising a service, meta descriptions are critical to your brand’s visibility. Competition is fierce and well-written meta description is just another step towards succeeding online. If you want help boosting SEO and driving traffic to your site, reach out to an expert. Our team at Small Dog Creative would love to help you achieve your goals.