When SEO-specialists talk about meta descriptions (MD), they usually mean short texts in SERP that reflect the overall content of the webpage. Google operates in a way to show the MD that best matches the user’s query.
If there is no match or the MD at all, search engine algorithms select the appropriate text from the page or generate a dynamic MD. While meta descriptions do not directly affect the ranking, they are key elements of On-Page SEO.
The guidelines for creating a good description are very simple: keep them within 320 characters and provide a unique and accurate description for each webpage. Approach this process as if you were writing advertisements. Give people a reason to click on a link and visit your site.
The Essence of Meta Description
The webpage description is a unique HTML tag located at the top of a webpage’s code. In fact, this is a short 2-3 sentence review of the page, which can be displayed in snippets.
The meta description length must be 160-320 digits. According to Google Guidelines, it could be either several sentences or a small paragraph. Since December 2017, Google has introduced changes to incorporate longer metadata into its SERPs. The previous maximum number of characters was 160 digits, but now the average MD text is 230 characters.
How to Create Ideal Meta Descriptions
If you are prone to master your skills of writing ideal MDs for your webpage, here are 8 most significant tips for optimizing metadata:
- Create a unique MD for each webpage
Every web page or post on your site without exception should have a unique MD. A quality review accurately summarizes the content of the webpage. It should be informative and interesting for readers. Fill it with the right data to help users understand if this webpage is really useful to them and if it matches their requests.
- Do not create MDs that do not fit the content of the webpages.
Don’t allow auto-generated MDs. Some CMS automatically generates a webpage MD based on the first 160 digits. This is a very disadvantageous option since such descriptions won’t win the attention of both the search engine and visitors.
- Accurately insert the keywords into MDs
It has already been said above that descriptions do not directly affect rankings, but it does not mean that there is no need to use keywords in them. On the contrary, keywords grab the search engine’s attention and make the snippet more relevant to the queries.
- Do not create common MDs that do not accurately reflect the content of the webpage
Your text should clarify what exactly the user will find on the webpage and if this data will be valuable for him.
- It’s always a good idea to look into your competitors’ MDs before writing your own
You need an MD that stands out from the crowd, rather than repeating word by word what is written by others in your business.
- Add the latest data
Users are always in search of the latest news, so update the info on your resource where it needs to be updated. This will make your snippets more attractive and interesting.
- Give people a reason to visit your site — add product features and benefits.
If you sell a product, then in addition to its features, you can include benefits that can make people buy it from you. It can be a money-back guarantee, free shipping, cashback, a lifetime product warranty, etc.
- Use the markup to enhance the look of your snippets
Even though the markup does not change the content of the MD, it helps improve the overall appearance of the snippet and makes it suitable for displaying as a Google feature snippet. An extended snippet is the most useful piece of info for a given query. This is how snippets from Wikipedia are often displayed.
Meta Descriptions as SEO-Tools
Nowadays, meta descriptions are more significant to SEO than ever before. With the advancement of voice queries and the introduction of rich snippets into Google SERPs, it becomes vital to work hard and optimize every text you write. Rich snippets are search results carousels in mobile browsers that you can swipe in any direction. They are also different from featured snippets:
- The featured snippet refers to data requests and has a zero position in Google, which is the most valuable and relevant info for the search engine.
- A rich snippet is the most compelling mobile-centric display format for search results. It is usually accompanied by pictures, ratings, and other functions that contain additional info.
Meanwhile, the content of MDs is used not to rank the resource, but as a way to find out which results users prefer to click on among the available web pages. So, high-quality and interesting meta descriptions will increase your CTR, which means increased traffic to your resource.
Before making any changes, analyze the performance report in Google Search Console to determine your CTR and position in search results before and after adjusting the content.
Finally, remember to check how your MDs look on different devices, including mobile phones and tablets, as Google displays snippets differently depending on the gadget.