Meta description is a snippet of information that describes the contents of a webpage. It is typically composed of 160 characters at the maximum, and appears under the URL of the page in search results pages.
This piece of information is placed in the <head> section of the page’s HTML. This is how it should look like:
<meta name=”description” content=”Here is the description of the webpage.”>
How important is the meta description?
The meta description should be attractive, concise, and relevant to the content of the webpage so that it bears a high likelihood of getting a search user to click on your link.
Google has emphasized that the meta description it is not a search ranking signal. However, the quality of the meta description may influence click-through rates, and so it is highly advised to create a description as dynamic and descriptive as possible for visitors to click on the snippet.
Guidelines of a good meta description
To produce an attractive and click-provoking meta description, the following tips should help you:
- The description should contain at least 135-160 characters. Although Google has been trying to use longer snippets – as long as 250 characters for some links – most search results are limited to the first 160 characters for the description.
- The description should make the visitor feel the need to click. It should clearly define what the visitor expects to see in the page where the link is directed to.
- Some people would write it in a way that either promotes a product or encourages a call-to-action. Here’s a good example: “Find out how celebrities achieve their sexy bodies in two weeks with this natural ingredient.”
- Relevant keywords must be used within the meta description. Search engines will highlight the keywords that users type in the search box.
- Your meta description should always match what is exactly the content of the website. If the meta description is in no way similar to what the webpage is all about, Google has the ability to penalize the website.
- The latter tip is meant to discourage the website owner to engage in black hat SEO techniques, which is frowned upon by site visitors and penalized by search engines. Deceiving the site visitor with an unrelated meta description could increase the site’s bounce rate, which tells you that visitors are losing interest in reading through the whole webpage.
How to optimize meta descriptions
It is not enough to know how to construct a few sentences to describe your webpage. Here are some effective tips to generate meta descriptions that increase the potential of your links to get clicked on search results pages:
1. Maximize the length
Make use of the allotted 160 characters to exhaustively describe the contents of the webpage.
2. Use the active voice
The description needs to be persuasive enough to push visitors to click, and one way of doing this is to use an active voice.
Passive voice: “By drinking our specially formulated meal replacement beverage, you can transform your body into a gorgeous figure.”
Active voice: “Drink our specially formulated meal replacement beverage to transform your body into a gorgeous figure.”
3. Use relevant keywords in the description
If you want to target specific keywords, make sure that you put them in the meta description. When a user types the keywords into the search box, the keywords will be highlighted on your meta description.
Although Google has already stated that it does not rely on meta information as a basis for search ranking, a good meta description should engage your target audience to choose your website as their preferred source of information. Remember that user experience should be prioritized over search engine attractiveness.