Although meta data isn’t as much of a factor for search engine optimization and rankings today, meta descriptions still play an important part in on-page SEO. Well scripted meta descriptions help convince visitors to click on a result in the organic listings. Since Google pays attention to click through rate (CTR), meta descriptions can indirectly boost your rankings by improving your site’s organic CTR says Chris Poole of SEO Company CT.
What Is a Meta Description?
A meta description is a segment within meta tags that’s used to describe the page. This “snippet” of textual content typically appears in the search engine results underneath the headline. To view a pages meta description, right click on the page and select “view page source” or “view source”. The meta description tag will look like this:
<meta name=”description” content=”5 SEO tips that will significantly impact your search engine
marketing efforts and boost your ROI…” />
<meta name=”keywords” content=”seo, search engine marketing, seo tips” />
<meta name=”robots” content=”index,follow” />
Why Do Meta Descriptions Matter?
The meta description has one fundamental benefit: it acts as an organic text ad. The meta description provides search engine users with a brief description of what they can expect to find if they choose to click through to the website/landing page. This basically makes meta descriptions as important as ad text.
Writing Persuasive Meta Descriptions
A persuasive meta description has the ability to increase the CTR of organic search results. That means more traffic, even if rankings remain the same. When creating the meta description, focus on writing it in a natural, non-spammy manner. You’ll want to include the keyword (s) that the page is targeting; however, it’s even more important to create a persuasive description that searchers will want to click on. It’s also crucial that the meta description is relevant to the page it’s describing, and unique from the meta descriptions used on other pages.
How Long Should a Meta Description Be?
At this time, Google’s meta description length allows for up to 160 characters (On mobile devices it’s up to approximately120 characters). The best practice when it comes to the length of meta descriptions is that it’s long enough to be adequately descriptive. The primary goal here when it comes to SEO is to attract visitors by providing value which will drive clicks.
Search Engines Don’t Always Use Meta Descriptions
In some cases, search engines pull a snippet of text from the page’s main copy, bypassing the meta description specified. Exactly when or why this happens is unpredictable, however, it typically takes place when the search engine doesn’t feel that the provided meta description sufficiently answers a searcher’s query. If this is the case, the search engine chooses a snippet from the page that better suits a searcher’s query.
While meta descriptions may not directly affect how Google or other search engines rank web pages, they definitely help encourage people to click links. Consequently, creating compelling meta descriptions should be a priority when it comes to search engine optimization.