What Are Meta Descriptions and How They Work

What Are Meta Descriptions and How They Work

Gaining online visibility is now the backbone of any business/organisation, etc. Your success there is defined by your understanding of several intricate features and the implementation of the right techniques. In this article, we explain what are meta descriptions and their importance in the overall website.

Meta description has always been an important part of the overall strategy. A meta description is simply an HTML tag that people use to describe the content available on their web pages.

This tag lets the website owners display a meta description right below the URL of that webpage.

Importance of meta descriptions

Meta description tags play quite an important role but are a bit different compared to earlier times. In the early days of the nineties and early 2000’s, people used these description tags for stuffing keywords. Now the situation has changed after Google updated its algorithm.

The meta descriptions are equally important even today but in some other way. The meta description doesn’t impact the rank of a website directly nowadays but it plays a significant role in improving the click-through rate that eventually increases traffic to your website.

Relevant meta descriptions not only help the visitors but also helps the search engines in understanding and indexing your website.

The description tag signals the target visitors about the content on your website. Given the decreased attention span of an average internet user right now, you get little time to convince users about your product/content/service through online media.

Such a situation makes meta descriptions quite an important part of your overall SEO strategy. Winning at meta descriptions means success for a website owner might be a justified statement right now. Anyone would simply click on the link in case he sees something worth it in the first place.

SEO experts are now considering the use of meta descriptions in on-page optimisation. That is why you have to write meta descriptions for almost every page on your website. But there are even more intrinsic benefits of using meta descriptions the right way. Now that we know what meta descriptions are and their importance, let us look at their fundamental structure.

Here is how you do it?

You can do it very easily through the code of your website. You have to add a meta description in the head section of your HTML code. Suppose I want to write a meta description for a webpage that I am creating.  Here is how I will write it, and put it between the opening and closing HEAD tags (that is, <head> and </head>).

<meta name="description" content="We break down digital marketing knowledge and website design advice into plain English guides for Australian business owners and marketers."/>

Now that I have written that in the HTML code of the page, when it shows up on Google search results, the meta description may be used in the display, such as the following image.

Google result showing meta description
Google result showing meta description

Just because you used a meta description doesn’t mean Google will display it in search results, either. For example, when I search for Pinterest board ideas, I see our guide on Pinterest board ideas, but I see the related content (called a “content snippet”), not the page’s actual meta description.

Search result showing content snippet
Search result showing content snippet

Essentials of writing a good meta description

Knowing the steps to open the HTML code of your website is not all if you want to write a good meta description. Here are some things worth considering if you want to write an appealing meta description.

Keep it short

There is a limitation over what can be displayed through SERP. This is the most important thing you have to keep in mind. Though you are free to decide the length of the meta description, not all of that will be displayed by Google.

People won’t be able to get exactly what you are trying to say and that would impact the click-through rate and other such things. The overall length of the meta description should be enough to contain the complete information.

And the ideal number of words that you can include should not exceed 155 words. Google chooses some sentences from lengthy meta descriptions. You better try to keep it short to make the most out of it.

Always use your focus keyword here

When Google finds search keywords in the texts of meta description, it is more likely to include the web page in the search results. You must have seen Google highlighting the synonyms on many occasions.

Making wise use of words will eventually simplify it for Google to come up with accurate search results. That would eventually help your website in gaining more exposure. The meta description should be more relevant to the niche you have targeted. It is done via keywords for search engines.

Make it clear

Meta descriptions are more like an invitation for the target users. Making it more precise and understandable is the key. It can be done easily if you are clear about the intentions and motivation of the target audience.

That is why fancy words and sentences are not going to work here. Make it simple and comprehensible. It is the perfect tool to set the right expectations in the visitor’s minds.

Go for call-to-action phrases

It is the perfect way to make it even more actionable. You expect people to visit your website anyway but you can make this process even simpler.

What if someone wants to know more about you/your services/products, or anything like that? The best way to help them is by including a call-to-action right in the meta description.

Be more specific in the time of need

Suppose you have an online store of electronics. Based on the content for which you are writing a meta description, you can simply include some specifications about the concerned product.

It enables people to visit part of the content relevant to them. It is something that adds to the convenience of users and will eventually benefit your website.

Meta description must be unique and relevant to the content

Just like every piece of content you post online, the meta description needs to be unique. Apart from that, the meta description must match the associated piece of content.

Never try to confuse or trick people into getting more traffic. It will only harm your reputation and that would be a loss on your part.

Try to include USP

USP stands for Unique Selling Point. Compile the list of features that make your website better than others in the niche.

Use wise and relevant words and describe the qualities of your website in the meta description. Keeping your words under the limit is important no matter what idea you are following.

Final thoughts

We have talked about a lot more than just what meta descriptions are. Knowing these essentials would be highly helpful in making the best use of meta descriptions.

As these are playing quite an important role in benefitting your website. And the things we have mentioned above are enough to push your journey forward.

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