What is a Meta Description?
Whenever you look at a list of search engine results, each entry contains a description of the web page’s contents. That description is known as a meta description. The meta description describes your page to both users and search engines. Google does not use the meta description as a primary method to rank the page so the meta description has limited value in terms of Search Engine Optimisation. The main purpose is to get the users in Google to click the link to your web page. Meta descriptions are for generating clickthroughs from search engines.
Basic Requirements of a Meta Description
The description should be limited to 320 characters. If you do not write a meta description Google will display the first 320 characters from your web page.
- Every page on your site should have a meta description.
- Each description should be unique. Although not used for SEO, Google states:
“Identical or similar descriptions on every page of a site aren’t helpful when individual pages appear in the web results. In these cases we’re less likely to display the boilerplate text. Wherever possible, create descriptions that accurately describe the specific page. Use site-level descriptions on the main home page or other aggregation pages, and use page-level descriptions everywhere else. If you don’t have time to create a description for every single page, try to prioritize your content: At the very least, create a description for the critical URLs like your home page and popular pages.”
- You can include tagged facts in the description. It is not always necessary to use a sentence format in the description. You can use structured data about the page, for example if you have a news or blog website you can list the author, date of publication, or byline information.
- Make sure your descriptions are accurate.
How to write a good Meta Description
- Make your description, ‘actionable’, write it using an active voice, the description is an invitation to users to visit your page. Include a ‘Call to Action’ such as “learn how to…..” or “Buy now only £….”
- Use your focus keyword in the description, remember it is the keyword that the user typed into the search engine in the first place. Also use variations on the keywords.
- Don’t forget to add structured data where appropriate. If you are selling a particular product for example ,details of the product may be scattered across the page, the price, age, manufacturer etc. A good meta description can bring all this data together.
Remember the purpose of the meta description is to accurately describe the page and encourage a high Click Through Rate (CTR).