When it comes to optimizing your website for SEO, meta descriptions rank up there in terms of the foundational items needed to set your site up for success. Right up there with meta titles and H1s, these attributes tell Google exactly what your page is about. Since relevance is a major factor in how Google ranks its pages, these foundational pieces of your website have a direct impact on how well your pages can rank. Here is the what, why and how of meta descriptions.
- What Is A Meta Description? Meta descriptions are HTML attributes that describe what your page is about. Appearing in the search results, their main function is to educate the reader on what he or she can expect when they click on your page. For example, if you are shoe shopping and Google “tennis shoes”, that little snippet of text under the page title in the search results would be a meta description.
- Why Are Meta Descriptions Important? Meta descriptions are directly correlated with the clickthrough rate of your page. The meta description must have the ability to convince the searcher to click on your page. In the “tennis shoes” example, a good example of a helpful meta description would be something that describes the different types of shoes the page mentions. A call-to-action such as “Learn more about our durable tennis shoes!” also is highly recommended.
- How Do I Create A Meta Description? Meta descriptions are typically 155 characters and should include your page’s primary keyword toward the beginning (throwing another keyword in there doesn’t hurt.) Because the Google search results page is constantly evolving, your mileage may vary with the character count. Instead, consider using a meta data preview tool to ensure you’re getting exactly what you want.
More Meta Description Tips
- Avoid using all caps or too many exclamation points. Your user will be much more likely to click on something that doesn’t look like spammy. Instead, use sentence case and write in clear, complete sentences.
- Use correct grammar and spelling. Your meta description is one of the first impressions your user will get of your site, and it’s important to be as professional as possible. It can also help to read your descriptions aloud to ensure they flow well.
- If using WordPress, extensions like Yoast SEO can help grade your page overall to see how well it optimizes for your chosen primary keyword. The tool will analyze your meta description as well as meta title and body text.
- When launching a site or redeveloping an existing one, it could be helpful to keep a spreadsheet of all of your meta descriptions in order to easily write and implement in bulk. (You could also use this spreadsheet for meta titles.)
- When adding new pages or blog posts throughout the lifespan of your site, get in the habit of filling out the meta description (and meta title) field as you go. It will be much more time consuming to try to do this after the fact.
Have any more questions about meta descriptions? Don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more!