The meta description is the snippet of text that Google shows to Internet users so they can see what your page is about. A page’s meta description is not a factor in page ranking itself as of September of 2009, but it can influence click-through rate, which is a huge ranking factor. Learn what to do and what to avoid when it comes to meta descriptions.
Use Good Marketing Strategies
Ultimately, although the meta itself does not factor into Google’s ranking decisions, it’s still an important tool for SEO. A meta description’s main function is to inform readers what your site is about so that they will click through to the page. This click-through rate does influence page ranking, but how can you increase it?
Write Useful Content
While keywords are important, a meta description is more than just a place to add a list of keywords people might search for. Google tries to show a description that will be useful to the user based on their search query, and it will rewrite any content that doesn’t seem useful. So you’ll need to write a meta description that looks reasonable and applicable to what a user might search for without keyword stuffing or being spammy.
Stick to Length Requirements
Although meta descriptions can technically be any length, if a meta description is too long, Google will cut part of it off, so users won’t be able to see how relevant the meta is to their search. If it’s too short, however, it may not provide enough information to convince users that your page will be useful to them.
Most results are truncated to between 155 and 160 characters, so to avoid having your text cut off, keep your preferred meta description between one to two sentences. Additionally, stay within a character count between 131 and 156 to ensure you’re following best practices.
Include a Call to Action
A large aspect of digital marketing is an effective call to action, and a meta description is no different. In addition to providing a short elevator description about what your site offers, you should include a call to action that will prompt a user to take a certain action after they get to your site. You might want users to order a product, start a free trial, book an appointment, or take advantage of your low prices.
Whatever you want potential customers to do, let them know their options in a way that catches their interest.
Avoid the Rewrite
Although your website might provide a preferred meta description to Google, the search engine may replace it with other text. But why does Google decide to do this, and how can you keep your preferred meta text at the forefront of your site?
Include the Meta Tag
You may have written some great content for your meta description, but if you don’t know how to put it into the HTML of your website, your meta description may not show up how you would like. To properly insert a meta description so that Google can read it, use this HTML code in the head of the page — not the body:
<meta name=”description” content=”Insert your content here.”>
This code is what a search engine looks for, so if it’s not there, the engine will write a meta description for your site, typically by pulling snippets of content from your website and piecing them together.
Write Unique Meta
Put in the effort to write a unique meta description for each page because duplicate meta descriptions can confuse both readers and search engines. For example, if a meta description is the exact same or only has a couple words changed across an entire site, Google won’t know how to prioritize which page to show based on a search query, nor will readers be able to tell which page will be most helpful to them.
Plus, unique content is less likely to register as spam or low-quality to both Google and users.
Use Keywords and Geotags
When a reader searches for a specific phrase, they expect that phrase to show up in their search results. So to meet the reader halfway, choose specific words and phrases that are integral to the content of your page and include them in the meta description. For example, if you offer a product or service, the keywords should include what you provide and where you provide it, or the area you serve or ship to.
Accept Your Fate
Despite all of your hard work, Google may still choose to rewrite your meta description — and that’s okay. If you’ve followed good SEO and marketing practices but Google still rewrites your meta, the search engine is likely tailoring it to a highly specific search query in an attempt to give the user context that will increase your click-through rate.
If you want to learn more about how to create a meta description that will wow users and increase click-through, contact us at Grow Team to set up your free consultation. We can provide insight on your specific meta descriptions, as well as other factors that influence your SEO.