How to Write a Meta Description
Writing meta descriptions with a great Click-Through Rate can be the differences between success and failure for a struggling online business
Meta descriptions, like meta titles, are frequently misunderstood and underappreciated. In this guide, we’ll show you everything you need to know about writing meta descriptions after the big December 2017 update.
What is a Meta Description?
The meta description is a summary of a webpage. Google may look at your webpage’s meta description and display the given information in the Search Engines Result Page (SERP), as below:
The text in blue is the meta title. The text in black is the meta description. Together, they are known as metadata. Sometimes they are also known as “snippets”.
How do I add a meta description to a webpage?
The meta description is an HTML tag. It looks like this:
<meta name=”description” content=”I am a meta description.”/>
Google doesn’t always use the meta description provided. Sometimes Google will generate its own meta description from content pulled from the website. This also happens if you don’t add a meta description.
Is the Meta Description a Ranking Factor?
We don’t know for sure, but it’s suspected that the meta description is not a direct ranking factor.
But meta descriptions can have an impact on the Click-Through Rate (CTR).
An enticing description attracts more clicks, improving a pages CTR. So well-written meta descriptions can increase the number of organic visitors to a site.
How long should meta descriptions be?
This is a difficult question because Google has frequently changed the length of meta descriptions displayed in the SERPs.
Though the advice you’ll get from SEO Experts will vary slightly, the Exposure Ninja stance as of the December 2017 algorithm update is as follows:
– Meta titles should be close to, but not over, 580 pixels (70 characters).
– Meta descriptions should be close to, but not over, 1840 pixels (320 characters).
You can check pixel width using this tool.
There are a couple of complications.
- Meta descriptions are displayed differently on desktop and on mobile. The above guidelines are supposed to be a compromise that works for both, rather than the ideal length for either desktop or mobile.
- Why do we set a limit in pixels instead of words or characters? Because Google counts pixels rather than characters. E.g. Google will display a meta title that is up to 600 pixels wide.
- We expect Google to change the pixel width in the future.
How to Write Good Metadata
Good metadata is metadata that improves the CTR. In other words, you should write a title and description that persuades a searcher to become a clicker.
It’s also important to use your time wisely. Businesses sometimes have thousands of webpages. You should focus on pages that have the greatest potential for sales. This will often be sales-oriented pages or pages that could be generating more traffic.
Keep the following points in mind when writing metadata:
- Use the active voice rather than the passive voice.
- Ask the searcher to take an action.
- Does your meta description address the searcher’s intent?
- Don’t mislead in your meta descriptions. The description must match the content.
- It should contain target keywords where appropriate.
- Metadata should be unique.
- Mention any Unique Selling Points (USPs).
On that last point, remember the context of when someone is going to read your meta descriptions. They’ve searched for something in Google and they’re scanning the results to see which page they should click on. They’re looking at both your site and your competitor’s site, so it’s really important to give the searcher a reason to choose your site over a competitor.
What are the Best Guides to Metadata on the Internet?
If you’re interested in learning more about metadata, check out one of the following guides:
- How to write search optimised page titles
- How to write a meta description
- Moz on metadata
- Moz on the metadata update (video)
- Yoast on metadata
- Yoast on meta description lengths
- Google on meta titles and meta descriptions
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