If you want your website to attract potential customers, don’t overlook the value of meta tags. Search engines use meta tags to interpret exactly what your website is about. They also allow website visitors to engage and interact with your content. It’s crucial to make them readable for search engines and potential customers!
What are Meta Descriptions?
Meta descriptions can be described in one of two ways. The first and more technical definition involves HTML code. According to W3Schools, “The <meta> tag defines metadata about an HTML document. Metadata is data (information) about data.” In other words, it’s a description of the document’s content. The second definition and the more user-friendly definition is just that—a description of a document. Here, we want to put the focus on our web pages. That means that meta descriptions describe what our web pages are about.
To kick things off, I want to demonstrate where you find a meta description on Google’s search engine results page.
The highlighted box is where you can find the meta description of a page. Typically, meta descriptions let users know what the page is about before clicking on the link.
Now that we have established the groundwork of meta descriptions and where to find them. We can go into its influence on user navigation and google rankings. Before getting carried away, I want to let you know that Google doesn’t consider meta descriptions as a ranking factor! To some, that might be a disappointment and lead you to think, why are meta descriptions important?
Well, I’m here to tell you they are more important than you think!
Why is it Important to Optimize Meta Mescriptions?
The primary purpose of a meta description is to inform users what your webpage is about. You are also letting Google know what your page is about.
It makes sense to inform users with the correct description of a web page. The last thing we want is for users to quickly realize that our webpage did not serve the purpose we advertised.
Opportunity to have keywords shown
Aside from providing value to users, it’s also an excellent opportunity to display keywords we want to rank for. Even though Google won’t consider a keyword-rich meta description as a ranking factor, it sure seems to highlight keywords that the user searches. Let me use the keyword “shoes” as an example:
When a user searches for shoes, Google will bold the related keywords in the meta description. This helps us improve our click-through rate. With bolded keywords in the meta description, users will find what they are looking for more quickly. Think of it as an anchor for the eye. Bolded terms catch your attention.
Beat Google to the Punch
Since Google doesn’t consider meta descriptions as a ranking factor, it is easy for marketers to leave it as an afterthought. If you decide to leave your meta description unattended, Google will automatically grab content from your existing page and fill in the blanks where it can. This creates room for meta descriptions to be poorly written or present users with the wrong information. Instead of having Google define your meta description based on the content of your page, make an effort to write your meta descriptions yourself. It is better to define what your users see and act on.
How to Optimize your Meta Descriptions?
First and foremost, your meta description should provide value to your users. The expectation of a well-written meta description gives users the information they need to decide whether to click on your site.
Meta Description Length
Marketers are always pondering this question. Google has stated that length does not matter in meta descriptions, but more often than not, it modifies your meta description if it is too long or too short. This also depends on what device users are using. Google will adjust your meta description based on the width of a device. It is best practice to stay within the limit of 150 to 160 characters. That way, you are considering the length of mobile, tablet, & desktop devices.
Unique Meta Descriptions
Make sure your site has unique meta descriptions for all of its pages. We want to make sure that users find what they are looking for. If we have duplicate meta descriptions on our site, it confuses and provides no value to the user. At the very least, it is best practice to prioritize top-level pages like categories, blog articles, your homepage, and frequently visited pages.
Using Call To Actions
Ultimately, you want your users to act on your meta descriptions. Your meta descriptions should have a clear call to action. Users tend to interact with your search engine listing by creating appealing content that creates urgency. This appealing content could be a blog article telling you to “read more” or a product listing telling you to “shop here.” Combining creative content with call to action is infinite, and it is up to you to get creative.
Even though Google won’t consider meta descriptions as a ranking factor, it still provides value to your end user. It creates straightforward navigation into your site, and with the proper content and call to actions, your meta descriptions are on their way to driving great results. Start with prioritizing top-level pages and work your way down the list. Make sure to stay within the 150-160 character limit and ask yourself, “does this provide value to my target audience?”
Still Need Help Creating Meta Descriptions for your Site?
I get it, we all don’t have the time to write compelling meta descriptions. Before you inquire about an agency to write your meta descriptions, I suggest you take a swing at it first. Gravitate provides meta description optimizations as part of our digital marketing services. If you decide to follow up with an agency, contact us to learn more about meta descriptions!