What is a meta description?

A good meta-description is really important to get you further up the search results in Google. Just to be clear, a meta description is the snippet of information below the link of a search result. It is there to describe the contents of the page to the searcher. The objective of the meta description is to convince and encourage the searcher to click through to your website. Any words from the description that were used in the Google search terms appear as bold in the description.

Why is a meta description important?

For every page of search results in google there’s not many people who will scroll down to the bottom of the page and click a result there. Academic research shows that 91% of people don’t go beyond the first page. So, if your result is at the bottom or not even on the first page of results, you’ve already lost a huge advantage. This makes having a detailed, relevant, and eye-catching meta description that much more important.  After all who was it who said “the best place to hide a dead body is page two of the Google search results”?

What not to do with Meta Descriptions

If you don’t add a meta description, Google will display a snippet of text from the first paragraph of your page. This may be ok to encourage people to click through but it rather wastes the opportunity that exists to write a short convincing statement with the right keywords that will have your users clicking.

The biggest thing to avoid with meta descriptions is to stuff them full of keywords that don’t make sense. Really don’t do this… Google will penalise you and let’s face it no one wants to read it.

So here is your Meta Description checklist. Follow this and you won’t go far wrong.

  1. Keywords: do make sure your most important keywords for the webpage show up in the meta description. Often search engines will highlight in bold where it finds the searchers query in your snippet.
  2. Write legible, readable copy: this is essential. Keyword stuffing your meta description is bad and it doesn’t help the searcher as they’ll assume your result leads to a spammy website. Make sure your description reads like a normal, human-written sentence.
  3. Treat the meta description as if it’s an advert for your web-page: make it as compelling and as relevant as possible. The description MUST match the content on the page, but you should also make it as appealing as possible.
  4. Length: a meta description should be no longer than 135 – 160 characters long.  Any longer and search engines will chop the end off, so make sure any important keywords are nearer the front.
  5. Do not duplicate meta descriptions: As with title tags, the meta descriptions must be written differently for every page. Google may penalise you for mass duplicating your meta descriptions.

Your meta description is your sales opportunity

Your meta description is your chance to win over a potential client. It’s your short sales pitch for your website. Too many businesses leave this out and, in turn, miss out on a critical opportunity to improve click through rates. Make sure you create an engaging meta description for your website pages that persuade people to choose you over your competitors. In essence, the better your meta description, the more likely it is you’ll have good click through rates from organic search.

Further reading