Meta descriptions are an important element of any page on your website. Although search engines do not use them directly to influence your rankings in search results, they can sway someone to click your link.
If you’ve managed to get yourself up into the search results, you want to get as many people to click your link as possible. Not only do you want to maximise the traffic you can get but the higher your click through rate, the higher Google is likely to rank you next time.
Follow these tips to make the most of your meta description.
What is a meta description?
A meta description is a short length of text that is displayed in search engine results page, below the title in your listing.
In Google, your listing will look something like this:
Meta descriptions can also pop up in other places where a short snippet or summary of your article would be useful. Although you can set the snippet that appears when your page is shared on Facebook, for example, if you haven’t made use of the Open Graph Protocol (the protocol that allows you to specifically set your Facebook snippet), often your meta description will be used instead:
The meta description is something you can set for each page on your website. It is not visible anywhere else other than in the search engine results page. Every meta description on your website should be unique and directly related to the content on the given page.
No matter how amazing your meta description may be, Google is always able to ignore it. Sometimes, if necessary, Google will switch your meta description for an excerpt of text on your page. If this is happening consistently, it can be an indication that your meta description isn’t considered to be relevant enough.
What do they look like in HTML?
In the source code of your web page, your meta description will read:
<meta name=”description” content=”Your meta description will appear here”>
If you want to check where your page has a meta description, just right click on the page and select ‘View page source’ (or Ctrl + U) and search for ‘description’. This will usually bring you straight to the meta description.
How to write a meta description
There are several best practice tips for writing a meta description.
- Make it relevant to your page – no duplicates please!
- Include your keywords
- Make it appealing
Meta description examples
First, let’s take a look at some meta descriptions from pages about writing meta descriptions. This could get embarrassing.
Now, let’s take a look at something a little more typical. I’ve searched for the best hot chocolate in London.
But I heard it was better not to write meta descriptions
Sometimes, yes, it might be better to not write meta descriptions at all. If you have thousands of product pages, for example, and the only way you would logistically be able to put them together is to duplicate them across multiple pages, then you are far better off just leaving them empty.