What is a meta description?
The meta description are texts that describes a page of a website or blog and it is usually shown as a snippet in the search engine results pages.
The meta description tag is hidden on the page so normal users cannot see it while browsing a webpage but search engine crawlers can read the value and might use it for creating the search snippets.
Here is an example of a meta description in Google search result:
What to write in the meta description tag
What you write in the meta description tag is very important. It’s a great opportunity to ‘advertise’ your page in the search results, attract clicks to your snippet and traffic to your website.
To best utilize meta descriptions first make sure that each and every page on your website has a unique meta description.
Second, you need to know that meta description is NOT an SEO ranking factor. This means that it does not directly affect your SEO but it can indirectly help in a number of ways.
Nevertheless, if you write compelling meta descriptions that encourages users to click your snippet and not the snippets that are in a higher position, this will eventually lead to higher rankings. Google will spot that users prefer your search snippet and it will move it up in the search results.
Some tips to have in mind:
- Write your most important message at the beginning of the description. This way, you increase your chances of getting show in both desktop and mobile.
- If you decide to write long descriptions, try to have a full stop (.) around 160 characters. This way you help search engines ‘cut’ your description without breaking your sentences.
- Add SEO keywords to your description text. Although as mentioned above, it does not directly help SEO, search engines tend to highlight the text that matches the search terms, and this makes your snippet more relevant to users.
Important: Search engines do not always use your meta description in their search snippets
- It is up to search engines to decide whether to use the text you provide or create a custom description from the content found on the page.
- Neither Google or other search engines specify exactly how they make the decision but if you provide accurate descriptions, you increase your chances of picking up your version.
- When writing your descriptions, always think of the user and how you can ‘convince’ them to click on your snippet. This will not only increase your organic traffic but it can positively affect your SEO.
But sometimes it gets confusing, especially when it comes to the ideal length of the meta description tag.
What is the ideal length of a meta description on Google?
- The meta description length for Google desktop search results is between 154-160 characters.
- The ideal meta description length for Google mobile search results is between 180 and 220 characters.
Since the majority of the traffic is coming from mobile devices, you should optimize your meta descriptions for mobile. This means you should write meta descriptions that are between 180 and 220 characters and not up-to 160 characters that was the standard until now for desktop.