When it comes to optimizing your website for maximum search engine visibility, it’s important to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way—no matter how small it might seem. Case in point: The meta description. This is an easily-overlooked section of online real estate, but it also happens to be a crucial way of communicating to readers—and to search engine algorithms—what your content is about and how it should be categorized. Knowing what meta descriptions are, and how to write good ones, is a key SEO skill that anyone can learn.
What is the Meta Description?
You’ve seen meta descriptions before, even if you didn’t know what to call them. Do a quick Google search for something—anything. You should see a list of roughly 10 blue links—the search results—and under each link, you’ll notice a short blurb of text. That blurb is the meta description. Essentially, it’s a preview of what the website content is about—a way for you to determine whether you should click on the link to have your search query answered.
How Does Google Determine the Meta Description?
When you perform a search for a given term, Google will first try to find a snippet of each search result that includes that term—and if possible, it will use that snippet of text as the meta description. Often, though, there’s not necessarily a good, succinct snippet of text that the algorithms can obtain, so they default to the manual meta description that the author of the content has (hopefully) written. In other words, your meta description may not always be displayed to search engine users, but a lot of the time it will be—so you definitely don’t want to neglect writing one. (If you do, Google may just use the first 150 characters or so of the page, which may not be particularly enticing to readers.)
Why Do Meta Descriptions Matter?
You can probably guess some of the reasons why meta descriptions matter. One is that it’s a great place for you to embed some keywords and phrases—signaling to Google’s algorithms what the main topic of the content is. Additionally, meta descriptions can convey value to readers, and encourage them to click on the link and read more. In a way, meta descriptions are almost as important as headlines when it comes to making a strong, persuasive first impression.
How Do You Write a Good Meta Description?
So what should you know about writing a good meta description? Here are a few tips:
- Keep it to roughly 150 characters; if you go much longer than that, Google will cut off the end of it. 150 characters is the ideal length for ensuring the whole thing is displayed on all
- Include some keywords and phrases in the meta description, but try to incorporate them organically. The meta description should make sense, not just be a jumble of search terms.
- Include a branded keyword in the meta description, too—like the name of your business or product.
- End your meta description with a call to action if you can!
- Above all, convey value. Show your reader why he or she should click the link to read your content.
Mastering All the SEO Essentials
A good meta description is an SEO must. To learn more about what makes an SEO campaign successful, we invite you to contact the Driven2020 team. We’d love to provide you with a full SEO and integrated marketing consultation. Reach out to us today!