Yes, yes and yes again. A powerful meta description can make or break, but first let’s go back a bit: What is a meta description? In tech talk, these are the HTML attributes that provide concise explanations of the contents of website pages. In plain language, the meta description is those couple of lines that come up under the title when you Google something – they describe the search result. What it does is help the person searching decide whether or not to click on the link. The words in bold in the description match back to the keywords used in the search.
So why do we need them?
Firstly, they increase the click-through rates and improve visits from organic search. Secondly, it gives the right people the right information: Google uses meta descriptions to return results when searchers use advanced search operators to match meta tag content. Thirdly, it increases visits from social media platforms – Facebook, for example, uses meta descriptions when the page is shared on their site – without meta descriptions, social sharing sites might just use the first text on your page instead. Lastly, you can use meta descriptions as a sales tool to promote your content – although they don’t affect the ranking, a well written meta description can increase the click-through rate and even the time spent on the page.
How to write a convincing meta description
Here are the 5 steps to writing a good one:
- Make it compelling – a clear benefit of clicking though, to tell the searcher why they should read this post.
- Use 1-2 keywords – the title tag and meta description should contain one or two of the keywords relevant to the content. This helps the search engines identify and index your web pages accordingly.
- Aim for under 155 characters – anything longer will get cut off by Google.
- Avoid keyword duplication – there is no need to repeat keywords or phrases more than once.
- Eliminate non-alphanumerical characters – search engines sometimes see hyphens, plus signs and quotation marks as HTML code, so they will change your meta description. Stick to plain text.
High quality meta descriptions that are explanatory are very important. Because this text is not displayed in the content, a lot of people ignore them, but they can go a long way to improving the quality and quantity of your search traffic.