Meta Descriptions are one of the main technical components of an SEO content strategy.
They play a big part in getting your website or page viewed on a search engine.
What is a Meta Description?
A meta description is the text that appears under the name of a page on a search engine.
Here’s an example from searching for us:
The role of a meta description is to give a preview of what the content on that page is about, or what someone can expect to find if they click through.
For example, a meta description for a blog would give you a preview of what that blog would be about so you can decide quickly if it’s relevant, without actually clicking through to the page.
They’re also one of the things Google and search engines use to determine how relevant that page is to the search word or phrase.
Obviously if you haven’t written a meta description for the page, you’re instantly putting yourself on the back foot.
How Long should they be?
Google will usually cut your meta description at 160 characters.
As a rule we’d always recommend aiming for between 50 and 160 characters depending on the contents of the page and how succinct you can be describing what’s on it.
If your meta description is too long, Google will just cut the snippet at the character limit (which is why you see some meta descriptions that end in …)
As a general rule you shouldn’t go over the limit just because a description that ends in three dots doesn’t look particularly good.
Also if you can’t keep it within the limit, you have to ask if you have a real grasp on the concept anyway if you can’t describe it in a few words.
You can use this great SERP snippet preview tool to see how your description will look before you put it live.
Avoid duplicating meta descriptions
This is a particular challenge for Ecommerce businesses, when so many of your keywords are product focused and you could be describing very similar items on different pages.
It is possible to create a programmatic method to produce different meta descriptions automatically but you should always try and come up with different variations yourself.
Don’t forget, like any duplicate content, duplicate meta descriptions will be punished when it comes time to ranking your page.
Are they still useful?
In a word – Yes.
Meta descriptions are helpful on a number of levels.
First of all, they serve the same purpose as advertising copy for your readers. They act as an enticement and should give the reader just enough information of what’s on the page to make them want to click through and read more.
A long, convoluted meta description is a sure way of putting people off your content.
Including your keywords in your meta descriptions also does the job of telling search engines what your page is about – which is key to understanding relevancy and placing higher in search.
If your meta description doesn’t have any keywords, or gives a confused answer to what your page is about, Google will deem it irrelevant and you’ll be punished those SERPs.
There will be occasions when you could be better off not including a meta description if the page is targeting a long tail keyword, but here you run the risks of search engines or platforms displaying your content to just pick a random line from the content and display that.
This might not be the best user experience, so be wary about not including meta descriptions on pages.
For more information on meta descriptions and other components that must be done to ensure your online presence is strong, contact Paramount Digital today.
Call us on 01744 88 1876 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.