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What Is a Meta Description? (Tips & Tricks)

What is a meta description
What is a meta description? And why is it such an important part of SEO?

Meta descriptions are a powerful tool your SEO toolbox. Good meta descriptions are key to improving the appearance of your website in search engine results pages (SERPs) and to boost your click-through rate. But what is a meta description?

In this article, we’ll explain why meta descriptions are so important for SEO and look at some tips to write a captivating one. But first, let’s take a look at what a meta description is.

 

What Is a Meta Description?

A meta description is a small line of text that appears under the page title and URL of a website in SERPs. This HTML tag describes the content of a page enough so that users know whether the website is relevant to their search, without having to click through to it.

Here’s an example of a meta description in a Google SERP:

what is a meta description
This is what the meta description looks like for Sophical Content.

Now we know what meta descriptions are, let’s take a look at why they’re so important in SEO.

 

Why Are Meta Descriptions Important?

When you’re looking through a SERP, you’ll notice that the meta description is the place where a website can present the most text. You can take advantage of that feature by writing a compelling description for your web page. The more captivating your meta description, the more likely it is to attract new readers and increase your traffic and overall engagement with your website. In turn, this leads to better rankings in the SERPs.

You don’t have to write one for all your web pages, but it’s a good idea to take the time to do it. Let’s look closer at why meta descriptions are important.

 

What Happens if You Don’t Write a Meta Description?

If you don’t write a meta description, search engines will create one for you, and the results can be mixed! For example, Google autogenerates meta descriptions by pulling text from elements like the first paragraph of page content or navigation tab titles. This often doesn’t accurately summarise the page or entice users to click through.

Given how important meta descriptions are, we highly recommend writing them yourself rather than leaving them for the search engines to autogenerate. That way you can write targeted, emotive meta descriptions that enhance your website’s overall SEO. So, how do you write a good meta description?

 

How to Write an Effective Meta Description

1. Describe Your Product

A quality meta description depends on how well you can sell yourself or what your website offers in a small number of words. This snippet should accurately describe the content of your site and motivate users to click on your link to read more.

2. Stay Within Character Limits

Meta descriptions should be kept between 120 and 155 characters including spaces. This is the number of characters that appear on Google’s SERPs. They can be longer, but anything over 155 characters will usually be cut off when viewed on the SERP. An exception to this is when your site is used for featured snippets.

Staying within character limits ensures that your message appears in full and is correctly formatted on all devices.

3. Use Them Consistently Across Your Website

There’s no guarantee that Google will always display the meta description of a particular page. So, you should write meta descriptions for all the pages across your website. Be sure that each meta description accurately and uniquely describes the page it refers to.

An exception to this is if you have lots of pages that your website’s viewers will only reach through internal links, or are likely to only reach them this way. An example of this is tags. If you have 150 different tags pages on your site, it’s probably not worth the time and effort to create a meta description for every one of them. If you do though, Google won’t penalise you in terms of SEO.

4. Always Use the Active Voice

One of the top tips for making your writing more engaging is to use the active voice as often as possible. This extends to meta descriptions. Using the active voice makes your text easier for users to read and quickly comprehend.

5. Include a Call to Action

Phrases that lead users into taking an action, like “subscribe”, “follow me”, or “sign up”, are very effective in meta descriptions. If you can add one of these expressions, such as “discover how to”, or “get a free trial for”, you’ll likely attract more clicks and better overall engagement.

 

Examples of Meta Descriptions

Fiverr

"Fiverr's

Fiverr’s meta description is straight to the point, capturing your attention with the breadth of services they connect people with. Whether you’re a freelancer selling your services, or a potential buyer, this description assures you that you’ll find whatever you’re looking for on this website.

Elementor

"Elementor's

The Elementor meta description gives a succinct, accurate description of what the website has to offer. It then finishes with an effective call to action. And the fact you can start for free really grabs the user’s attention!

PayPal

"PayPal's

In only 21 words, PayPal’s meta description clearly describes all the features it provides. It’s simple and descriptive, which is exactly what a meta description should be.

Medium

"Medium's

Medium has a brief and straight-to-the-point meta description that makes it clear amateur writers are welcome. That will likely result in a much higher number of clicks from people who just want to share their stories, no matter their background or experience.

 

A Simple but Important Component of SEO

As you can see, meta descriptions are simple yet effective ways of encouraging users to click through to your website. And increasing your traffic means better ranking in the SERPs, which means even more traffic. Leaving the meta description writing to the search engines might result in completely irrelevant descriptions that users scroll straight past. You can communicate a great description of your website way better than any search engine can!

Now you know more about meta descriptions and why they’re so important when it comes to increasing traffic for your website. To learn more about other SEO features, like backlinking and alt text, check out some of our other articles here.

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