Many of our clients often ask us about meta descriptions and why they are an essential aspect of a site and an SEO campaign. We hope our recent blog helps to answer a few of the queries, should you have them too.
What is a Meta Description?
A meta description is a short paragraph that provides a summary of the content of a webpage. They are most frequently seen by the typical web user while using a search engine, such as Google. They consist of two to three short sentences; this paragraph gives users an insight into what that particular page is about, without them needing to click on the link. The meta description appears underneath a website’s title tag (the blue clickable links) on search engines.
As much as us SEO experts would like Google to use the meta descriptions we provide, this isn’t always the case. Search engines will often pull the meta description from the main bulk of the text instead, it is difficult to predict when this may happen but, it is thought that it is because Google believes that the current meta description doesn’t best answer the query or describe the page.
Why are Meta Descriptions Important?
Meta descriptions are important as they indicate to the user what the link is about. Users are more likely to click through to a website if they have some understanding of the content and whether or not it answers their query or is relevant to their search term.
Although Google has stated that it doesn’t consider the presence of meta descriptions in the ranking algorithm, the positions may be indirectly benefited. Click-through and bounce rate are just two of the ways Google decides whether your website is worthy of featuring for a search term. If your website has a high click-through, and a high percentage of the users remain on the site, rather than immediately clicking off, this demonstrates to Google that users are finding information that is relevant, which in turn, promotes ranking positions.
Social media platforms, such as Facebook, also frequently use the meta description when the webpage is shared. When a URL is directly posted on the platform, it generates a preview of the page and just underneath the image, there will be the meta description from the site.
How Long Should a Meta Description Be?
Up until late 2017, the ideal length of a meta description was 160 characters, but, this has recently changed, and they can now be as long as 275 characters. This means, rather than two to three lines describing the page; you can now have up to six, depending on the length of the sentence. The additional length allows a more detailed description of the page, providing users with more data while in the initial search, resulting in an improved user experience.
Tips for Writing Meta Descriptions
If you’re writing a meta description, there are several things you should consider. First and foremost, it needs to be user-friendly. The meta description should make sense, read well and use correct spelling and punctuation. Secondly, the short paragraph should sum up the contents of the page; there should be a brief definition of what the user can expect when clicking through to the site. It should also entice the reader to want to know more, so often, it is advised to give away enough that they know the page will answer their question, but also hold enough information back to make the user click through.
Have we missed anything? Here at Ducard, we pride ourselves in being transparent with our clients, and we hope to provide clarity on the aspects of SEO that they may not understand. Get in touch, and we will be happy to answer any questions that you may still have.