When you choose to use content to improve the value of your web page, it’s not just about the copy you put on the page. You must also focus on the metadata and any HTML attribute that you might add to the back end. This sends helpful signals to the users and search engines, such as Google.
It’s important that you write meta descriptions for SEO, but what does that really mean? Here’s what you should know:
What Is a Meta Description?
A meta description tag is a bit of text that offers a brief description of the webpage. The text appears as the meta tag in the HTML code. In a sense, meta tags look like this (with the HTML code):
<head> <meta name=”description” content=”Ultimately, this is where you put your meta description to help boost your website’s SEO. Don’t forget to include a CTA here.”/>
The text from your meta descriptions appears in the search engine results pages. Therefore, this blurb is just part of a bigger snippet that includes the:
- Title tag – This is a version of the page’s title that’s added to the HTML element. The page title tag could be different from your headline appearing on the page.
- Slug – This is the URL of the page.
Together, your meta description, slug, and title tag are the snippet appearing in the search results on Google. Ultimately, this is crucial for organic search.
That copy can appear in other places for your page. The title tag might be in the web browser tab. With that, the description and title tag are often found on social media posts.
SEO descriptions offer more page data, but they do much more than provide bonus content. Marketers benefit from using them strategically on each webpage.
Why Should You Use Meta Descriptions?
Are meta descriptions important? Yes! Google says that meta descriptions aren’t a ranking signal, but that content is crucial for driving traffic and improving your page performance in search.
It’s Like a Mini Ad for the Webpage
When meta tags appear on the SERPs page and social media feeds, they’re like a small promotional ad for the webpage. Meta descriptions give marketers a chance to promote their pages and tell readers why they must click on them.
They Look Better in the Search Results
When you don’t tell social platforms and search engines what page description to use, they make the choice for themselves. This often results in an unflattering page snippet on Google. The text might be cut off, irrelevant page data might appear, and important details might be missing. Therefore, you want to define the text to use to ensure that you get the best and most relevant content.
With that, you need to understand HTML coding enough to use the “meta name description content” format so that it looks right.
Meta Descriptions Increase Your Clickthrough Rates and Boost Search Rankings
When meta descriptions are properly optimized for the audience, they get more clicks, which improves your click-through rate. Make it clear in the meta description tag that this page offers the right search intent for the primary keyword you want to rank for. This way, Google understands that and ranks you higher.
While a relevant meta description doesn’t necessarily improve the search rankings on a page singularly, the results of crafting a good meta description can do so. When links are frequently clicked on as a search result, it signals the search engines and tells them that this page is important. Therefore, meta tags can boost your click-through rate.
They’re a Part of the Bigger Rich Snippet Plan
The search engine results page doesn’t just show the description, slug, and title. There are many other tags that Google uses for rich snippets. They may be small details, such as extra links or data. With that, they can include bigger copy chunks on the page, icons, and much more.
In other words, good meta descriptions can help you be part of the featured snippet and improve your page performance in search.
How to Create/Optimize Meta Descriptions
It’s now time to learn how to create a meta description. You know why the meta tags and title tag are important for the page, but let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.
Write One for Every Webpage
You should create a title tag and meta description for each blog post and landing page you publish. If you don’t follow this practice, you may have hundreds of pages already. Therefore, you should add an HTML tag to the most important ones first.
One easy way to do that in WordPress is to use the Yoast SEO Plugin. It can help you craft a custom meta description and much more.
Don’t Use Duplicate Meta Descriptions
Every meta description must be unique. Don’t use the same language or phrases for various rich snippets.
You can check your current website to see if you’ve got duplicate meta descriptions with a site audit tool like Alexa. Enter the site URL and run a full audit. Then, you can find out which pages you should write unique meta descriptions for so that Google likes you.
There are other SEO tools out there to help with this, as well.
Use 135 to 160 Characters in Meta Tags and Include the Targeted Keyword
The meta description length that displays in the search results can change based on the device type, screen size, and other factors. There’s no special rule for how long the meta tags should be. However, most meta descriptions are between 135 and 160 characters.
With that, you shouldn’t use non-alphanumeric characters in the meta descriptions.
Each webpage needs to use the keyword that the page wants to rank for, and this extends to the meta description tags. Your web page content is crucial for you, so you don’t want to do any keyword stuffing there or in the description. Search engines could rank you lower or remove the page from the results altogether if you do that.
Don’t Use Quotation Marks
Meta descriptions are there in the HTML code, so you don’t want to use any characters that might break up the HTML language. One that causes significant problems is the double quotation marks. Don’t use them in your meta description. If you need to quote something, use the single quotation mark instead.
Always Use Active Voice and Include a CTA
Active language is when the subject of your sentence takes action. It’s more interesting and easy to understand and visualize. Therefore, when you write meta descriptions, you should only use active voice to engage readers and hold attention better.
Treat the meta description as a piece of the customer journey. Use language that guides them to take the next step. You should do this for every single page of your website.
Don’t Trick the Audience
It’s best to use the meta description information to pull the readers into the copy and get them to want to click. However, you should do so ethically. Google doesn’t like outrageous claims, misleading information, and unrelated copy that’s only there to get SEO rankings. If you use incorrect statements to lead the readers to your site, it pushes them away and disappoints them.
When the content on the page doesn’t match the page’s meta description, you may find that search engines penalize your website. Plus, you get high bounce rates because users come to you to see the page’s content and click away quickly because it’s not what they want. This sends negative signals to Google and tells it that the page is bad. Make sure your meta tag is truthful with the offerings.
Support Your Meta Descriptions with a Strong Page Title
The title tags are different than a meta description, and they have an impact on your SEO rankings. This content is crucial for catching the attention of readers and searchers. Therefore, use the title tags to support your meta description by:
- Using the keyword without overusing it
- Placing the keyword at the front of the title
- Focusing on the readers and not search engines
- Showing value and benefits
- Including the brand name of your site
- Writing 50 to 60 characters
- Writing unique page titles
As with your meta description, you can’t use duplicate title tags for the pages!
Don’t Fuss over Meta Keywords
Just as with your description and meta tag title, the meta keywords are the terms placed in the HTML of the page. Unlike the description and titles, these aren’t important keywords and don’t have as much impact on the page’s value for the search engine or users.
Google publicly states that these aren’t a ranking signal and aren’t seen by the users. Therefore, don’t put more energy into adding such keywords.
Use Various Rich Snippets for Twitter/Facebook
Social media platforms often use the defined meta description as the blurb for their posts. However, you can adjust the pixel width as needed to modify the text that appears and how many characters you get.
Optimize for Rich Snippets When Possible and Double-check the Work
If other schema markups are used for the content, add structured data to the page to improve the look of the search engine results with your description.
Once you add the meta description to the post, make sure you use the best practices. You can use the On-page SEO Checker from Alexa to scan the page and check your meta tag description.
Is the meta description important? You found out that it was critical to ensure that you’re at the top of the results pages. It’s crucial to have the right meta description. If you’re not comfortable crafting your own meta description, you may ask us to write a unique meta description when we create the content.
We are here to serve you!