What is a Meta Description? 7 Tips for writing optimal Meta Descriptions

Danni Roseman
February 25, 2022

Inside this article:

Perhaps you're new to SEO, and you've heard the word "meta description" tossed around when discussing ways to improve position on search engine results pages or SERPs?

Perhaps you've gone so far as to write a meta description or two for your web page or blog?

In this article, we'll discuss what makes a good meta description, the ideal meta description length, other meta tags that you can incorporate  to improve search rankings, and by the end you'll feel more than confident writing your very own meta description!

Tell me the meaning of meta description

Meta Descriptions are tags in HTML that act as a 155-162-character summary describing the content of your page. The text is below the page title.

It's shown in search results when meta descriptions also contain keyword searches. Compared to page titles the meta descriptions aren't optimised for SEO, but they attract people to click and are a part of the SEO process for a website or page.

They appear on page code as metadata name="description" content= with the text description. Meta descriptions are merely promises you make to search engines and to readers as to what they'll find on your website.

Why are Meta Descriptions Important?

As your title and URL are shown at the top of the page you can have meta descriptions that can help improve your clickthrough rate or reduce it.

Research shows that using keywords to make a page's meta description more relevant can help you get higher rankings on Google. This isn't huge and may have some positive effect when utilized naturally and without keyword stuffing in your description.

You should make your meta description a good advertisement for searchers and use this as a means of advertising to get your site noticed on search engines.

Why should you use SEO Meta Descriptions?

Although Google has said meta titles are not a ranking feature, these pages can still drive traffic and improve search results.

Meta descriptions can act like ads for websites. Whenever a meta-title appears in search engines, it acts as promotional material for your web site.

Writing compelling copy allows marketers a chance to advertise and offer readers a reason to click on their website. Defined metas can be found more often by search engines.

How to write good meta descriptions: 7 easy tips

Remember: your unique meta description is your chance to shine bright like a freakin' diamond! How do you stand out from your competitors on Google's search results page while also convincing the reader or potential customer that you, and you alone are the answer to the question they've typed into the search engine?

Although Google doesn't say that meta descriptions are a factor in SEO, Google does pay attention to CTR, or click-through- rate.

When people look at your meta description and see that they can find the answer to their question, they're more likely to spend time on your website versus bouncing around to another one. This is why it's important to write meta descriptions.

Tip 1: Keep it short and snappy

There's no guarantee that Google will display your meta description on the search engine results page, but on the chance that they do, you don't want it to get cut off.

Tip 2: Say what you mean

Your meta description tag is not a chance to be vague and mysterious if what you want is for people to click on your site. Leave the puns, riddles or mystery for another time.

Tip 3: Include a Call to Action

So, you've written a compelling meta description, and now it's time to officially invite folks to the party. You've told them that you have what they need, now tell them what to do next!

Tip 4: Don't forget your target keyword

At this point in the game, you know that keyword research is part of any SEO strategy yes? Yes. Surfer has an entire toolkit to make keyword research easier such as the free Surfer Keyword Extension for Chrome, Surfer's Content Planner which will provide dozens of content clusters based on your target keyword, and the on page seo checker, the Content Editor which will tell you in real time if you're on the right track or not.

Knowing all you know about your target keyword, make sure to include it, or a synonym on your page description.

Tip 5: Avoid duplicate meta descriptions

It happens, people create unique title tags, then simply take an existing meta description, copy, paste, boom, bam. Meta description tags are of no use to you if they overlap across a variety of pages. Make them unique for the best results.

Or... leave them blank, and let Google choose a snippet.

Using Multiple Meta Descriptions for a Single Page

Google VP John Mueller has questioned if meta descriptions can be used for different purposes in the search engines.

He explained that using the first meta description tags on the page is not as good as adding them as the previous meta descriptions are on the website.

Google can handle additional title and meta information, but publishers should always have a single title description and title tags for each page.

Tip 6: No clickbait zone

If Google finds out that you are intentionally misleading people to click on your site with zero intentions of delivering what you claim to offer, you may be penalized. How will they know? Bounce rate.

Tip 7: Adjust based on the web search and sector

We never want to forget search intent and its ability to boost organic traffic. If your page is in the e-commerce sector, including specifics along with relevant keywords is a great thing to add to your brief description.

You will not only get more traffic, but also by using active language, sticking to an ideal character length and  being specific you may hone in on exactly what the user is looking for.

Bad examples of meta descriptions

"Best food in London." I'm not really interested in the history of mediocre burgers in London, and I need some good food now!

This meta descriptions also does not contain the ‘Best' Keywords from the title tag itself. Although there are rich snippets the text is muddled and copy the title tags directly rather than offering another enticement. It's way too obvious and vague.

Good examples of meta descriptions

Here's a meta description example for vegan-savvy customers looking to purchase milk alternatives:

Title tag: 7 Vegan-Friendly Alternatives to Milk

Metra description: Learn all about these new milk alternatives from brands like Oatly, Sproud and Silk! Click to read about the latest trend in plant milk: pea milk!

Why it works? It's short, it includes the target keyword within the meta description tag, it tells them what the blog post is about and gives a few examples that informed readers will recognize.

Conclusion:

  • Make your meta description concise, detailed and compelling
  • Don't duplicate your meta descriptions, each page should be unique
  • Be transparent, and avoid clickbait to keep your bounce rate low, your CTR high, and Google (and your readers) happy

Happy Surfing!

Further reading:

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