Meta description is the summary of any webpage. Search engines use it in search results to help searchers Instantly know whether the content of a page is worth visiting.
A meta description is a vital part of on-Page SEO. So if you are thinking of getting the most traffic when your page appears on a search result, you can’t ignore having a perfect meta-description.
When a search engine displays search results, say 10 of them on a page, the pages on the search results compete against each other for clicks and traffic. The searcher will quickly scan through all the results before determining which one to click.
If by any chance your page has the best meta description, it will get the most clicks. This is because it resonates with what the searcher wants.
Since Meta descriptions help searchers determine the relevance of a page, it is a vital part of on page optimization. You cannot afford to ignore them. If you expect to get attract lots of organic traffic, you have no choice, but to write attractive and effective meta descriptions.
That’s why today, I am going to meta descriptions, and how to write them.
In this post you’ll learn:
1. The importance of meta descriptions and how they can give you an advantage over other pages.
2. Where to add meta descriptions
3. Two simple ways of adding meta-descriptions to WordPress without breaking a sweat
4. Examples of good meta descriptions to give you inspiration of what exactly you need to include in your meta-descriptions.
Ready? Continue reading…
Meta-description: what are they, and how do they work
Meta descriptions are HTML attributes. They provide concise descriptions of the contents of web pages. When a reader is on a webpage, he or she can’t see the meta description. However, when the reader is viewing search results–of the same page, he or she can see the description.
These descriptions play a big role in the experience of searchers. Search engines use them in their results. From the description, searchers are able to know whether the results match their search query.
This is what I mean:
When someone wants to do an online search, the first thing he or she will do is, “Type a keyword or question in the search engine box then… hit enter.”
The search engine will then do the hard work. It will process the query. In fractions of seconds, it will search through tons of pages that have content that answer the query.
When it finds them, it will display:
- The title of the relevant pages,
- The URLs of the pages
- The meta descriptions of the pages and…
Depending on the settings of the searcher’s browser, it will display the top 10 results–or more) in the order of relevance.
The most relevant page will be at the top, followed by others.
Here is where pages that have good meta descriptions have an advantage. A page that has the best description among the 10, will carry the day. It will get the most traffic, and the most click through rate.
Why is a meta description important?
Clear meta descriptions increase the click through rate of searchers to a website. The more descriptive, attractive, and relevant the description, the more likely a searcher will click through it.
The importance of a meta-description is not only limited to the relevance of search results. As a blogger, an advertiser or business owner you can benefit from it. You can use the description as an advertisement for your page. If you make your page’s meta description clear, precise, attractive, and persuasive, your page will stand out. When this happens, your page will outcompete others, thus receive more traffic.
Here is a video showing why meta descriptions are important.
Where to Add the Meta Description in Your New WordPress Website
If you are having a WordPress website, knowing where to put your description is a no brainer. At the bottom of a page or blog post editor, there is a box titled “custom fields” as shown in the photo below. If your theme allows it, you can add the meta-description in the provided fields.
You just type: seo_description under the name field. In the value field, you type whatever description you want. However, whatever description you type, it must be between 135-160 characters.
The other way of writing a meta description is through a SEO plugin like Yoast.
Now that you know where to put your meta description, the tough job is how to write an effective one. Many experts agree that to write a good one, you ought to have a checklist. In a little while, I will show you one. For now lets talk about…
Meta description length
Most SEO experts agree that the best length for a meta description is 155 characters. Anthing above this length gets truncated during the display of search results. What is above 155 characters therefore doesn’t have benefit to readers because they will not be able to see it in the first place.
Examples of Good Meta Descriptions
In a few words, Hubspot explains what they do and how a potential customer can expect from them. Their benefit driven meta description is spot on
This blog by Moz gives answers to the question what is SEO. From this description readers get exactly what they need even before they open the page
Is it necessary to have meta-descriptions?
According to Google, meta descriptions are not neccesary, because Google will pick the best description for a page during a search result. But there are certain instances when having a meta-description would be important. The video below my Google’s engineer Matt Curtis explains the instances that a page will need a meta description.
I encourage you to watch it right now!
meta description Checklist
- Make use of 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.
- Write a meta description that can be understood by readers. Some people make a mistake of 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 sentence.
- Treat it like an advertisement for your website. The description should match the content on the page. Make it as compelling and as relevant as possible.
- Length should be between 135-160 characters. Any longer and search engines will chop the end off, so make sure any important keywords are nearer to the beginning.
- Never-ever duplicate the meta description. Each page or blog post must have its own unique description. If you make the mistake of duplicating meta descriptions Google may penalize you for having duplicate content.
- Consider using rich snippets.