If no one knows what your site is about, no one is going to click on it.
How can you tell people what's on your site? Enter meta descriptions – those one-sentence snippets that influence viewers to click on your site instead of someone else's.
If the term "meta description" is new to you, don't worry – you're in the right place. Let's take a look at what meta descriptions are, how they impact click-through rates, and why they are important for SEO.
What Are Meta Descriptions?
Meta descriptions are HTML tags that sum up the content of your web page to the reader. You can think of meta descriptions as your 155–160 character chance to convey the value of your page to the reader.
When you search on Google, you'll see the webpage's meta description just below the blue link in the search results.
Not only do meta descriptions tell the reader what your site is about, but a well-written meta description can make the difference between someone selecting your site and a site that is higher-ranked in the search results.
Because of this, meta descriptions are hugely important.
Meta Descriptions Help Your Site's Click-through Rates
SEO, or search engine optimization, is a hugely important factor in your site being discovered. Essentially, a well-optimized website is easily found by search engines, ranked highly, and shows up when searched for. Sounds simple, but with 1.93 billion websites as of March 2022, good SEO is essential.
While a change in Google's algorithm means that meta descriptions no longer affect a site's ranking, they directly affect your site's organic traffic. Search engines don't choose which site is clicked on; they can only present a list based on their ranking algorithms.
A site is chosen by the human doing the searching, and they do this based on what they can glean about the website by skimming the search results page. And because users only see that one little sentence below that blue line, a good meta description is essential to increasing your click-through rates and getting people to visit your site.
The Components of a Good Meta Description
A meta description should be short, about the length of a tweet. And while expert opinions vary on exactly how long a meta description should be, most say they should fall between 155–160 characters.
Other things to consider when writing your meta description:
Don't just focus on the keywords. A good meta description should accomplish a goal, so you need to consider what that goal is. It could be to get the viewer to call your business, buy your product, sign up for a service – anything. Figure out your goal and make sure that your meta description meets it.
I've already said it, but be mindful of the character count. Working with 155–160 characters is pretty tight, but with practice, you'll get used to refining your content so that it concisely presents your page's most important information. You don't want Google cutting off your message before you get a chance to convey it. If after a while you are still struggling to write meta descriptions, hire a professional.
Use action-based language. You don't need a direct call to action in your meta description, but the verbiage you use should encourage the reader to do something. This comes back to your goal. Using words like discover, explore, learn about, and find can convince the reader to click without telling them to straight out.
Why Meta Descriptions Matter
According to HubSpot Academy, meta descriptions are a crucial component of on-page SEO. In addition to increasing your click-through rates, meta descriptions make sure that viewers are getting the information they need in the right place.
Well-written meta descriptions can also increase traffic from social media platforms and influence results selected by advanced Google searches.
If meta descriptions are something you've skipped when it comes to your site's SEO, remember that meta descriptions can be the defining factor when it comes to a viewer choosing your page over someone else's.
And with so much competition out there, why leave that to chance?