Meta Description: The word “meta” derives from Greek and means “after or beyond” and is used to describe “an abstraction behind a concept”, in simpler terms, something beyond the source thing: with regard to an SEO meta description, the sentiment is the same. It is the extra content that appears in the search engine results page (SERP), underneath the blue clickable headline or title tag.
This extra piece of description serves the function of advertising copy, and it should be a major part of what draws your reader further into your website.
Creating a unique and persuasive description, ensuring you use your most important keywords, can improve the click-through-rate (CTR) on your website, indeed that should be one of the main objectives of your meta description.
Meta descriptions no longer factor into Google’s ranking algorithms for web search, so it is all about the clicks, and that is why you must carefully craft the words in your meta description.
The more clicks you generate the more the great Google will allow your page to rise in the ranks. Which means putting effort and thought into the words used can result in a tenfold return.
Google and other search engines display keywords in bold in the meta description when they match search queries. This makes those words stand out to the reader so it is best to match your descriptions to search terms as closely as possible.
Meta descriptions can be any length. Google actually increased the limit in December 2017 from 155 characters to 320 characters (it is actually counted in pixels, so there is no exact number because letters and numbers vary in size), but it is not the length that counts so as much as the content.
*NB the error in our Meta Description example.
Does it provide value and inspire clicks?
– That is the question an intrepid webmaster must ask themselves when creating these short paragraphs.
A page’s meta description must not be stuffed with too many keywords or be unauthentic:
It should read as naturally as possible. Yes, employ those keywords but do not make them feel like cold calling the readers in the dead of the night. Make it instantly applicable to the page it describes, and different from the descriptions for your other pages.
It must be compelling and alluring, inviting the searcher to click and read because that description will contain what the seeker seeks. This means extra work on creating original content but it is worth its weight in gold.
A little nugget for you when coming up with these dazzling descriptions is to make the customer the hero. Your description will support your brand’s ethos and it will match your brand’s tone, yes, but making it about the customer embarking on a journey that promises treasure, that is the gold. It is a simple but effective use of language, where your copy will feature words such as “you” and “your”.
One example out of many is YouTube which states “enjoy the music you love.” Look at other popular sites and brands and see where the word “you” or “your” stands out. That is their invitation to embark on the hero’s journey, to click-through.
For more information on Title Tags, Meta Descriptions, Headers etc. refer to my earlier more comprehensive articles
“24 On-Page SEO Tips for Small Business”
“Basics of Onsite SEO” – Video