What Does a Meta Description Do for SEO?

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Why do meta descriptions matter for SEO? Can’t they all just be the same for your website’s pages?

Meta descriptions are an important piece of the search engine optimization puzzle. And, no, they should never be the same for multiple pages! Today, we’re going to talk about what they are, why they matter for SEO, and how to write descriptions that are optimized.

What is a Meta Description?

A meta description is the short description under the title tag of a web page on search engine results pages (SERPs). It is meant to briefly describe what the page is about and convince users to choose your page over other pages in search results that show up for their search query.

Here is a meta description example from one of Backlinko’s pages on Blog SEO. You can see the meta description is straightforward, informative, and to the point about what the page is about.

meta description for seo

As you can see, one of the most important aspects of a good meta description is articulating the value a user will get by clicking on the meta title and reading the page. This incentivizes the user to click through to your page, increasing Google’s perception that your page matches the user’s intent.

Why Does a Meta Description Matter for SEO?

A meta description’s primary purpose for SEO is increasing click-through rate (CTR). According to Search Engine Land, “Click-through rate measures the number of people who click a link against the total number of people who had the opportunity to do so.”

The best argument for why a meta description matters for SEO is Neil Patel’s interpretation of a CTR assessment outlined by AJ Kohn. To paraphrase, the main idea of it is this:

  • Google looks at a bunch of signals when determining whether a page is matching the intent of a user’s search query
  • When users search for a query and then ensuingly click one page in the search results over others, Google will likely raise that one page in the results because more people are clicking on it
  • Why users click on one page over another may be a result of a number of things, but will likely be a result of:
    • How the meta title is phrased
    • How the meta description is phrased
    • The brand recognition of one page over another
    • The user visited that page before and want to come back to it

If your website has made it onto the first page of Google Search Results, congratulations! But, now you have to get a user to choose your page or blog post over the other top results. What’s the easiest and most logical way to accomplish this so that you can increase the click-through rate for your page? A great meta description (and of course, a great meta title).

Next, we will teach you how to write the best meta descriptions for search engines. Read on to learn more about the format, ideal length, and how to use keywords in meta descriptions.

How To Write Meta Descriptions for SEO

Optimal Format

The optimal format for an SEO meta description is for it to be short, clear, informative, and include a CTA, or “call to action.”

Using a call to action such as “request a demo,” “learn more today,” or “read on to…” increases click-through rates significantly. It makes users feel the need to take action and decreases bounce rates.

Here are some great examples of SEO meta descriptions that include calls to action. Look at the strong verbs used like “Discover” and “Download.”

what is a meta description meta description length

Meta Description Length

Meta description length is important to pay attention to because you don’t want your description to be cut off.

Depending on the width of the characters, search engines typically show about 150-160 characters total on SERPs. So, trying to stay in a range of 125-155 is a good rule of thumb. Stick to a 155-160 character limit. Having a description that is too long is not optimal because it will be cut off with an ellipsis (…) and unreadable.

Using Keywords in Meta Descriptions

Google says that keywords in meta descriptions don’t affect SEO search engine rankings, but we believe they are still important. Using keywords in your description tags that are relevant to a user’s search term, grabs their attention.

When keywords are used, it allows the user to more quickly determine if the page matches their search intent and provides the information they are looking for.

Things To Avoid When Writing Meta Descriptions

Keyword Stuffing

There are certain things you want to avoid when writing meta descriptions, and keyword stuffing is one of them. Keyword stuffing is what it sounds like, putting a large amount of keywords into content and essentially over-optimizing.

Google’s algorithm doesn’t like when people over-optimize and users won’t choose your site if the meta description comes off as spammy.

Quotation Marks

Quotation marks shouldn’t be used in meta descriptions. If you have double quotation marks in your description, Google will automatically truncate the description when it gets to them. To avoid your description being truncated, remove any special characters.

Duplicate Content

Sometimes you may see multiple pages with the exact same meta description. This isn’t recommended because it doesn’t give users accurate and detailed information about a specific page.

Create unique and interesting meta descriptions for every page on your website that will hook users effortlessly.

Conclusion

Hopefully, now you feel ready to write some killer meta descriptions for your website. Increase your click-through rate and organic traffic by following these tips. Include a call to action, watch the character count, and use SEO keywords when writing your next description.

Meta descriptions are a great way to entice users to visit your website, so have fun with them!

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