The meta description of your page is just one element of the meta tag (along with the meta title) in the HTML of your website which helps summarise the content that is on your web page.
Your meta description plays an essential part in influencing users who are browsing the SERP to click through to your site from your results page. Quite often meta descriptions can be the deciding factor over whether users click on your result over your competitors.
If you want to influence users on the SERP to click through to your result over your competition then its essential that you understand how meta titles work in addition to learning the fundamentals of how to write compelling meta descriptions which will have a significant positive effect on your click-through rate (CTR).
If you want to learn how to do just that, then you’ve come to the right place.
What is a meta description tag?
As we touched upon briefly in the introduction, meta descriptions together with meta titles make up the meta tags on your page. Meta tags are used in the HTML of your page which provides search engines and users with a description and insight into what information your page contains and why it might be helpful for the user.
Here's an example of what a meta description would look like in the HTML of your page:
<meta name="description" content="Here’s a description of what meta description looks like in HTML on your page."/>
Is it a ranking factor for Google?
You may be surprised to know that meta tags aren’t in actuality one of the ranking factors that search engines use to rank results. In fact, meta description isn’t actually directly crucial for ranking in Google at all. So, what’s the point in optimising my meta description on my page at all, if it isn’t directly a ranking factor for search engines? You may ask, well here’s your answer.
By optimising your meta descriptions and writing metadata that will compel users to click onto your website, ultimately you are improving your CTR, which you may be interested to know, is a direct ranking factor for Google. The more users click on your result in the SERP over your competitors, the higher your click through rate is going to get, and the higher your result will appear in the search page results.
So, while metadata isn’t a direct ranking factor, it is an indirect ranking factor, which is why it is essential for good on-page SEO.
How long should it be?
The length of meta descriptions can vary depending on the type of result that appears in the search engine, but generally, as a good rule, you’ll see that meta descriptions range from around 150-160 characters in length and this is what you should be aiming for. The maximum character count that you’ll ever see in the search results is around 300, but you should ensure that your meta description is long enough to provide your users with an adequate and persuasive explanation as to what’s on your page and why they should click on it.
How to write a good meta description
Now you know why meta descriptions are an essential factor for SEO by influencing CTR and how long your meta description should be, the next step is to understand how to write an excellent meta description for your page and here’s the list of everything you’ll need to include.
Stay within the character limit
There’s no point in you writing a spectacular meta description that is over the character limit as you’ll only find that it will get cut off and ruin the effect, that’s why it’s important to stay within the character limit so that your description will be able to be viewed in its entirety. Although it may seem like a bit of a difficult task to stay within the character limit, with a little bit of practice, it will soon become second nature to you.
Make sure your meta description tag is relevant to the content on the page
Ensure that your meta description is a truthful depiction of what information the user is going to find when they visit the page, this is for two fundamental reasons.
The first being is that if Google doesn’t believe that your meta description is a good enough to describe the content that’s on the page, it will disregard your suggestion for a meta description and will, in fact, choose a passage of the text from the page which it finds to be most accurate.
The second that if the user clicks on your page because of something you’ve put in your meta description that isn’t in fact on the page, users might bounce straight back and navigate away from your site entirely, therefore increasing the bounce rate of your page. The higher your bounce rate is, indicates to Google that your result may not be providing the user with the information that they need; therefore you may drop down in the SERP due to Google thinking that your page isn’t relevant to the search query.
Make sure it’s unique
It’s easy to create an excellent meta description for your website and think that you can use it for all of the meta descriptions on your site, however it’s essential that every meta description on your website is individual and unique to each page (and that includes using someone else’s meta description as well!). This is because it will be difficult to differentiate between the different pages on your website as although the page titles will be different as all of your results will look the same.
Include your keywords
If you’d rather Google chose your suggested meta description for the page as opposed to them picking an explanation for your page from the body of your content, then including a keyword which includes the search term is a good way of ensuring that Google uses your suggested description.
Include a call to action
If you want to get people to click through to your page from the results, then it’s a good idea to have your meta description include a call to action such as ‘find out more’, ‘read on to find out more’ or ‘discover all you need to know here’, invite users to view your content and entice them to find out more about the information that you’re providing on your website.
What is a good meta description? Examples
When it comes to meta descriptions it can sometimes be helpful to see all of these factors come together to create an enticing description, so we’ve comprised a few examples of what a good meta description and what doesn’t to help you develop great descriptions for each and every one of your pages.
Optimised meta description:
Custom designed T-shirts. Create your own design and have it printed and sent out the same day! High quality. Eco-friendly. Free P&P. Try [Brand name] today.
Optimised meta description but over character limit:
Interested in custom T-shirt design and printing? Want to learn how to create beautiful and bespoke designs? Here's what you need to know about printing your o…
Unoptimised and unengaging meta description:
Custom T-shirt design and printing services. Create your own t-shirt with your design. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.