What Are Meta Descriptions?
Before you learn how to use your secret weapon, it might help to know what it is, right? Well, meta descriptions are HTML elements that show up in the SERPs and describe the content on the page with which it is associated. This tag is what describes your site to a search engine, assisting in your site’s optimization for search engines. Search engines find results by matching the meta descriptions with the search. When a match is found, it is pulled up in the search results. Without specifying a meta description, the search engines will pull out whatever information it thinks is relevant to the search. Knowing how to use a meta description can help you strategically place information in a search result.
Why It’s A Secret
At one point in time, meta descriptions used to have a large impact on the way search engines found and ranked web sites. However, in 2009, Google announced that meta descriptions do not have a direct effect on search rankings. So the question now is, “Why use them any more if they don’t help your search rankings?” The key word to look at in Google’s announcement is “direct.” So while they may not have a “direct” effect on the search rankings, the content of your meta description can still affect your site’s ability to be found for certain topics.
The Secret Weapon
Meta descriptions may not be super-powered heroes that swoop in to save the day all the time—in fact, they have lost face with search rankings—but this underdog still has a lot to offer.
It is more like the laser pen super heroes might keep hidden in their pocket—a small tool for a delicate task. Meta descriptions are there to bring users in, to help convey important information in a few words. They get a point across creatively. No big, long descriptions or overbearing words; simple and to the point—laser pen.
A well written description can mean the difference between a high click-through rate (CTR) and a low one. These descriptions are selling points for your site. They help the user see the relevant information they need. Even if it does not directly affect the search ranking of your site, it will help to bring users in and possibly affect the amount of time they stay—and those two factors do affect search rankings.
How To Utilize The Secret Weapon
As cool as this tool is, it is important to know its limits; you don’t want your laser pen going off in your pocket, right? So here are a few quick tips on how to write a successful meta description.
The length of a meta description generally runs between 150 and 160 characters. Anything more than 160 and your description will be truncated (or cut off). In most cases, you want to have a complete description, so it is important to keep it within the 160 character count.
One of the most important things to include in your meta description is your keyword. A carefully crafted description with the correct keywords will create higher CTRs. When searching on Google, the relevant keywords found in the snippet are bolded or highlighted, which signals to the user that the page has relevant information according to the keywords searched.
Quality is another important factor in a well-written description. When looking at the content, it is important to actually describe it in a way that would pique interest. You want them to click through, and the content in your description can be the deciding factor.
A tool like meta descriptions may not seem like a powerful thing. However, knowing how to wield a weapon like this can really make a difference in how your site performs. Just remember: it may be a small tool, but this is a delicate task. Trying to get users to click on your site can be tricky and difficult, but there is a solution—effective meta descriptions. You have the secret weapon, you just have to know how to use it.