Firstly, what exactly is a Meta-Description?
A Meta-Description is the short piece of text shown on the search engine results pages (SERPs) and it provides a brief summary of the searched for webpages.
How does Google use Meta-Descriptions?
Google uses Meta-Descriptions to show the user it has found websites that are relevant to the search performed. Underneath the Meta-Title, a brief description of the page content appears, and Google will usually highlight within the text the keywords that the user has searched for, to show that they are mentioned within that page.
What makes a Meta-Description?
The Meta-Description is a key area to advertise your site to the user. If your description meets their purpose they may well click on your site, which is why it’s pretty important to put in a little effort to get this right.
What makes a good Meta-Description?
Let’s set out a few guidelines for what a good Meta-Description should be.
It should ideally have the keywords that the user has searched with or something close to them, seeing as these are likely to be made bold. Be compelling enough to draw the user in, and should contain an accurate content summary of the page it is describing.
Try to make it as unique from your competitors as you can, and try to avoid language that may come across like spam. It should preferably be between 50-160 characters.
What makes a bad Meta-Description?
Now let’s take a look at what to avoid doing.
As we mentioned with Meta-Titles, try to avoid duplicating your descriptions to other pages, otherwise Google might list multiple pages with the same description and it can look like spam. You would also miss an opportunity to use more keywords and explain each page properly.
Don’t use double quotation marks. It’s best to remove anything that isn’t alphanumeric where possible, as Google cuts off your description at the quote marks when it appears on the search engine results page. It could cut off important text that you want the user to see.
Google won’t always use your description. If it finds information from the page content which it thinks is more relevant to the user’s particular search, it will use that instead, so bear in mind the quality of your page content.
Here are some good examples:
These are brief but descriptive, and tell the user exactly what the site is about without being overstuffed with keywords.
So, for an effective description we now know to include our main keywords, being natural and unique where we can, as well as keeping it relevant.
This concludes our Meta-Data mini-series, but if you'd like to see similar articles from us in future, let us know!
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