How to Write a Meta Description
Whether you’re writing a service page or a blog post, having a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy is crucial to gaining traffic, improving rankings, and reaching your business’s goals.
Once you research, incorporate keywords and backlinks, and add detailed, relevant content, that’s pretty much all there is to it — right?
Although the bulk of your SEO strategy focuses on the page’s layout, content, and keywords, meta descriptions are an important aspect to include as well. Meta descriptions — which are just short snippets — can have a big impact on your site’s click-through rate.
Learn more about meta descriptions and the best practices for composing them with WebFX. Be sure to subscribe to Revenue Weekly, our email newsletter, for more SEO tips and advice!
What is a meta description?
A meta description is an HTML tag that appears below your page’s title and URL. You can add meta descriptions, also known as meta tags or SEO title tags, to any type of website’s code.
Metas are a short summary that gives users an idea of the content they’ll find on your page. They help differentiate your URL from the others on the search engine results page (SERPs).
Why are meta descriptions important?
Years ago, meta descriptions would directly impact your site’s rankings on search engines like Google. Even though they no longer have this impact, they are still an important element to include in your overall SEO strategy.
When you include a meta description in your code, you can boost your website’s click-through rate. When users see a relevant, interesting snippet about your page, they’ll be more likely to click on your result versus the others on the SERPs.
The more users that click on your result, the more your click-through rate will increase. Google will notice this and view your page as more relevant to what users are searching for, helping boost and rank your page higher.
By adding a meta description, your business will also have a way to promote your page in a free, organic way. These descriptions will be the first thing users will come across on the SERP. Having an enticing description can increase your site’s visitors and, potentially, sales.
Social media content
Along with promoting your site, meta descriptions are also often used when sharing on social media, especially Facebook. When someone shares a page, social media sites will either pull random content from the page to include at the top of the post or use your meta description.
Having a meta description lets you control what others see when someone shares your page on social media.
How do I add a meta description?
Your meta description gets added into the head section of your site’s HTML. The format will look like:
<meta name=“description” content=“insert the meta description here”/>
Along with embedding meta descriptions into the backend of your site, you’ll also be able to easily add one into the “meta description” section if you use an SEO plug-in.
Meta description best practices
No matter what kind of site you have, there are several best practices to follow when writing your meta descriptions:
- Character count: While there isn’t a specific character limit, there’s limited space for Google to show all your text. When writing a meta description, it’s best to add a maximum of 160 characters, including spaces.
- Relevant content: Based on what’s included in the meta description, users will expect to find specific content once they click on your page. Adding accurate, relevant content ensures users will find exactly what they need.
- Unique descriptions: If you have several pages on your site, make sure each meta description has unique content to clearly differentiate each one. Users want to know what kind of content they’ll find when they click.
- Make it actionable: Like the content on your site, including a CTA like “learn more” or “click here” in your meta description can encourage users to take action and visit your page.
Do I need to add keywords in meta descriptions?
Even though meta descriptions don’t have a significant impact on where your site will rank in the SERPs, you should still naturally add your primary keywords.
Along with letting users know what they’ll find on your page, Google will frequently highlight relevant search terms that appear in your meta description.
For example, if someone searches for “online English degrees” and your meta description contains that keyword, Google will bold the text. Having keywords highlighted can make them more visible to searchers, increasing the chances they’ll see and click on your page.
Use a meta description generator
When your meta description is inserted into your site’s HTML, it can sometimes be difficult to envision how it will appear on the SERPs.
Using a meta description generator can help you see how it will look and prevent cropped or shortened text.
Google has the final say
When creating meta descriptions, keep in mind that Google can choose whether or not it will publish your meta description or not.
Occasionally, if Google believes it can share something more relevant from your page, it will overwrite the meta description you wrote and use that instead.
While Google can ultimately decide what it will display in the results, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t build out detailed and relevant meta descriptions. Most of the time, Google will use your meta tags!
Work with WebFX to create a strong SEO strategy
Looking for some extra help as you develop or implement your SEO strategy? Here at WebFX, we have over 25 years of experience using SEO tactics to drive both traffic and revenue for our clients.
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