Meta descriptions, also known as snippets, are paragraphs that provide more information about your page than the title tag. They generally contain between 150 and 200 characters and appear in search engine results pages (SERPs) under titles.
But what should meta descriptions include? How long should they be? What is an example of a good snippet? This article covers all those questions and more:
What Are Meta Descriptions and How Are They Used?
Meta descriptions serve multiple purposes:
-Give searchers a preview of what can be found on your page;
-Help SERPs rank higher because users prefer well-written content;
-Provide you with another opportunity for backlink building; and
-Are an introduction to your page before it appears in SERPs.
The snippet editor looks like this:
Writing Your Meta Descriptions For SEO
The first problems you'll run into with meta descriptions come from length and formatting issues. You can easily fix those by adding line breaks between paragraphs, but what about the actual content? Before we talk about how to write meta descriptions, let's go over some important tips for writing snippets that rank higher:
1. Write information-packed meta descriptions . Use your space wisely -- don't just throw all of your keywords together. Instead, provide searchers with more details about the link. If you mention features or benefits your snippet, make sure they are relevant to the page, not just extra keywords.
2. Use fewer but bigger words . Try using longer words instead of shorter ones that mean the same thing. For example, use "comprehensive" instead of "complete." You can also remove unnecessary filler words -- search engines see right through them and they're a waste of space anyway.
3. Keep sentences concise . Whenever possible, try to cut down your sentence lengths. This will improve readability and make it easier for people to understand what you're trying to say -- both good things from a SERP perspective!
4. Add value . Your meta description should never feel spammy or full of fluff because it's another chance for you to prove your expertise in your field. Curiosity is good here -- give searchers the information they need to be intrigued enough to click on your page, or at least share it with their friends!
Now that you know what makes a good snippet, how long should meta descriptions be? The answer depends on a few factors: Google puts 140-160 characters as its sweet spot for snippets, but you may want to experiment with length based on what competitors are doing in SERPs. Try changing up your meta descriptions and then compare the CTR of the results before and after. Next, try playing around with formatting by adding images or bulleted lists to see if it increases your CTR even more!
Google has recently added another feature called "rich snippets" which adds additional information about a website right in search engine result pages. These snippets appear for a variety of different content types, including events, recipes and products. You can see an example below:
Meta descriptions can also appear as "rich snippets," so it's important to make sure the ones you have are set up correctly by using HTML markup. Here's an example piece of code from Google Webmaster Tools that you can copy and paste into your HTML editor:
Rich snippets bring several advantages to meta descriptions, such as increasing CTR and helping with your SEO efforts. It's not mandatory at this point -- rich snippets need structured data Markup on the page before appearing -- but if you do decide to use them, make sure they're well-written! For more information about rich snippets, read Google's official documentation .
For more information on meta descriptions check out Moz's Beginner's Guide to Metadata and don't forget to check out my latest vlog for a peek at my new YouTube channel! Thanks so much guys - I'll see you next week.
Love this blog...really great stuff!! Question: Length of Meta Description? Is there a "best practice" length for how long a meta description should be? Should it be the same on every page or is some variation okay as long as it is filled with value? Reply Delete
Hey thank you, Zee! If readers have any questions about writing meta descriptions please feel free to ask them in the comment section below or contact me here :) There's no one-size fits all answer when it comes to meta description length, but in general Google recommends keeping them between about 130-160 characters. There are lots of factors that go into deciding on what exactly is the best fit though -- for example, if you have few keywords compared to your competitors, shorter is better (because yours will stand out more). Also, if the page has rich snippets like reviews or ratings , make sure you include them! They'll also help limit character usage. Hope this helps :) Reply Delete
Thank you again Zee - excellent blog post and vlog! Here's another question: What value do meta descriptions offer users? I know they're supposed to entice people to click on our web pages but how can we convey that message to actual users of our sites? Reply Delete
Hey thanks so much for the kind words! I'm glad you found it helpful. To answer your question, meta descriptions give a quick glance at the content on a page and entice people to click through. A lot of times they also give away information that would otherwise have been left up to the reader's imagination. If done right, this can be very valuable for your business as it encourages visitors to come back again :) Hope this helped -- I'll see you next week! Reply Delete
I am newbie blogger here... Can u tell me how should i write meta description.. Do u think its better to make unique one or make same as ur article title.. Again many thanks for all ur effort Reply Delete
Hey thank you so much! It's great to hear you're taking my advice, and I'm glad the blog is helpful. Meta descriptions should be unique to each page of your site because they let search engines know what that specific page is about, but there are several things you don't want to do: Don't put them in ALL CAPS (they look like screaming), don't use ALL INTROS (no one likes a long sentence beginning with "so" or "well"), no heavy mentions of keywords or phrases, and try not to go over 150 characters even if it seems impossible. Most of the time it probably won't be an issue, though :) Thanks again for watching -- see you
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