A meta description is a type of meta tag. Like all meta tags, it is a piece of HTML code. Search engines read this code to know what to expect on your web page and how they should list your page in the SERP. While search engine devs claim the description doesn’t affect your SEO, having a well-written meta description will affect your click-through rate. This snippet of code is your chance to advertise your page, so do it right!
Your Meta Description’s Length
Usually, the meta description is listed within the search results, so it is best to keep it between 50-160 characters. That’s a wide range. You don’t want the description so long that Google has to shorten it for you. But you do want it long enough to spark interest, so users will click on the link, eager to read more.
Let’s Look at an Example
Launch My Health is a functional medicine service offering nutritional classes, health coaching, and one-to-one virtual visits with physicians, nutritionists, and other health professionals.
The code for the meta description of their homepage looks like this:
<head> <meta name=”description”
content=”1-833-9Launch | Eliminate disease & imbalances in the body with a whole-person approach & functional medicine. We’re on a mission to simplify healthcare!”></head>
If we were to look up Launch My Health functional medicine, on the search engine results page, it would look like this:
1-833-9Launch | Eliminate disease & imbalances in the body with a whole-person approach & functional medicine. We’re on a mission to simplify healthcare!
Did you notice in the example that “functional medicine” is in a bold typeface? That’s because it’s the keyword I used in my search. All of the SERP entries with the keyword phrase “functional medicine” in their description would have it boldened, making it easier for users to scan the SERP for what they are looking for quickly.
It Can Get Complicated
If we change the keyword phrase, the results will be different. In the following example, I searched for “Launch My Health Whole Person Approach.” This was the result on the search engine results page:
About Us | Launch My Health
launchmyhealth.com › about-us
We take a positive approach to your health. … We do this by arming you with the information and support needed to make the best health decisions for you as a person, not just a … Her children grow up eating more nutritious, whole foods.
The second search query pulled up the About Us page rather than the Homepage. The description is different because it is tailored to the keyword phrase “whole person approach” instead of “functional nutrition.” Notice, however, that Google broke up the keyword phrase. Those words are in the meta description, but they aren’t in the exact form we were seeking.
Google actually created this entry. You can tell by the use of ellipses used to patch the content together. They went to this length because I was not only searching for the keyword phrase, “whole person approach,” but also “Launch My Health.” Google’s algorithm isn’t perfect, but it is pretty amazing.
Ways to Improve your Meta Descriptions
- Like all good writing, use an active voice.
- Eliminate weasel words like “my, perhaps, possibly.”
- Use your focus keyword (but only once. It isn’t Thanksgiving, so avoid keyword stuffing).
- Make your page description accurate. Never mislead the reader.
- Include a call to action to create compelling ad copy.
- Entice the reader to click.
- If it is a product page, include the product specs.
- Make your meta description unique. Stand out from the crowd.
You Don’t Have to Write a Meta Description
What? Didn’t I tell you how important they were? Yes. But, if for some reason you choose not to write them for a page or two or more, your pages will still be listed when people search for something you have written about. The drawback to not writing your own meta description is that Google will do it for you, and it doesn’t always turn out the way you want.
Typically, Google will take the first sentence or two from your page or post and use that on the SERP. If you use an intro paragraph or disclaimer, that’s what will show up—not your compelling copy with a keyword and enticing call-to-action. If at all possible, write a meta description for every page and post you publish.
Does it Sound Like a Lot of Work?
It is. That’s why many business owners have Iceberg Web Design create and manage their website and SEO. We do it well, so you can do what you do best. Contact us today to learn about how we can help you take your business to the next level.