- What Is a Meta Description?
- Why Are Meta Descriptions Important?
- How to Write a Meta Description for SEO
- Avoid These Meta Description Optimization Mistakes
Including a meta description is one of the many ways you can improve your website’s search engine optimization (SEO). This HTML tag gives users an overview of each of your webpages. By writing your meta description with the best practices in mind, you can improve your click-through rate (CTR) and get more traffic on your website. Read on to learn what a quality meta description looks like and how to craft one yourself.
What Is a Meta Description?
A meta description is a 160-character HTML tag that summarizes the content on a webpage. It appears on search engine results pages (SERPs) to give users an overview of a webpage before they click on it. Essentially, you can use a meta description as a preview to your website. By including relevant and interesting information in this brief snippet, you can persuade more users to click on your webpage.
When you have a self-hosted domain or WordPress website, you can add a meta description using an SEO plugin. For instance, Yoast is a popular SEO plugin that helps you optimize keywords and add the HTML tags that your website needs.
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Why Are Meta Descriptions Important?
Meta descriptions are an important part of improving your CTR. When users have a good idea about your webpage’s content because of this summary, they may be more enticed to click on the link. As more users click on your webpages, your SERP ranking may increase, which will make your website even more visible on search engines.
How to Write a Meta Description for SEO
Follow these steps when writing and optimizing your meta description:
1. Keep It Under 160 Characters
Although your meta description’s goal should be to include as much useful information as possible, you also want to keep it brief. After about 155 to 160 characters, Google may cut off your meta description, so it is useless to include any extra words. Likewise, writing an entire paragraph defeats the purpose of having a brief summary of your webpage. Use a word counter tool to keep track of your characters.
2. Make It Direct
Make your meta description sound natural rather than like clickbait. There’s no need to write it for the algorithm or search engine. Instead, write it with your target audience in mind. Try to make your webpage stand out to them by showing that it can provide them with the information they’re looking for. Use active words, and try to provide value to those who are reading the meta description. As you start writing, make sure that you answer the following questions:
- What is this webpage about?
- Why is this the best resource for a specific search query?
3. Include Keywords
When your meta description includes keywords that users search for, Google will bold them. This may persuade more people to click on your webpage since they can clearly see that it is relevant to their search. Although meta descriptions don’t directly impact your SEO, having relevant keywords within the meta can improve your CTR, which in turn increases your web traffic.
4. Write a New One for Each Webpage
Don’t just copy and paste the same meta description for all of your webpages. This can make your SERP look like a bunch of duplicate content, making it challenging for users to know which webpage to click on. Instead, write a unique meta description for every page. Considering how short they are, this is worth the little bit of extra effort.
5. Include a Call to Action
Start your meta description with a line or two that summarizes what the webpage is all about. Then, end it with a call to action to influence users to visit your website. When writing your call to action, keep it brief, and avoid sounding like a sales pitch. Something simple like “Learn all about SEO here” would work well.
Avoid These Meta Description Optimization Mistakes
When writing your SEO site description, try to avoid these potential mistakes:
- Using double quotation marks — By adding quotes, you are signaling to Google to truncate your snippet. Play it safe by avoiding any non-alphanumeric characters in your meta description.
- Copying and pasting content from your website — Although your introduction may have a nice sentence that summarizes your webpage, it’s better to write a brand new line or two for your meta description. This way, you are providing users with unique content. Also, search engines may see this as duplicate content, which may confuse their algorithms.
- Writing in a spammy way — Phrases like “Visit our page NOW,” “Click here to find out,” and “You’re never going to believe the answer” are all examples of clickbait that you should avoid. Both users and search engines are growing wiser about spammy messages like these. By writing like an actual human, you can make your brand seem more credible and authentic.
- Using too many keywords — Don’t try to trick search engines by loading your meta descriptions with keywords. In fact, keyword stuffing is a common SEO mistake that could cause search engines to penalize your website. Try to include one or two main keywords, and make sure that the full meta description sounds natural.
- Rushing to get one on each page — Take your time and be thoughtful when writing your meta descriptions. If you realize that you need to add them to all of your webpages, tackle this project one page at a time. Prioritize your webpages so that you know which ones to start with. Consider which pages show up on SERPs most often or which provide the best information to users.
Well-written SEO meta descriptions can help you improve your CTR and gain more website traffic. By following these best practices and avoiding common mistakes, you can boost your SEO.