While a solid SEO strategy can ensure your website appears in search engines like Google and Bing, a good meta description can make sure people click through to your website.
Let’s take a look at why meta descriptions still matter in 2022, and how you can increase your click-through rates with a high-quality description.
What is a meta description?
A meta description is a short summary of text that appears with your website link in the search engine results. It’s something you can directly edit in your content management system of choice.
Meta descriptions help search engine users find out more about the content of your page so they can see if it is worth their time clicking on your website link. These descriptions can also help drive the right type of customer to your website, boosting your conversion rate and driving down bounce rate.
Do meta descriptions have an impact on SEO?
Technically, meta descriptions do not have a direct impact on SEO and your ranking in the search engines. However, they are still extremely valuable.
A well-written and contextual meta description can be the difference between a search engine user clicking on your website link, and choosing to click on a competitor’s link instead.
What happens if I don’t have a meta description?
If you don’t have a meta description in place for your page, the search engine will generate a piece of content it thinks describes your page instead.
You may think this saves you a job, but there is no guarantee that the search engine will pick the content that best describes your page. For example, we’ve seen search engines display the navigation for certain pages, which doesn’t look good or help users.
By having a meta description for each page on your website, you have more control over what search engines display.
Will the search engine always show the meta description I have created for my page?
Not always. If a search engine thinks your meta description does not match user intent, it may opt to show another piece of content from your page instead.
Despite this, it’s still good to have a meta description in place for each page of your site.
How to write the perfect meta description
Now you know a little more about meta descriptions and how they can help boost your click-through rate, here are some of our top tips to help you write a great meta description.
Make sure it is the right length
If your meta description is too long, the search engine will truncate it. If it’s too short, you run the risk of it not describing your page accurately.
Different search engines have different description lengths, with searches on mobile showing less of the meta description than desktop.
We recommend aiming for about 120-160 characters for the best results.
Try and put the most important content at the beginning of the meta description. That way, it is more likely to be seen.
Use different descriptions for each page
It may be tempting to cut and paste the same meta description for each page of your website, especially if you are short on time.
While this won’t affect your search engine ranking, it will mean search engine users will struggle to find out what your individual pages are about.
Use your chosen keywords
If you are trying to rank for specific keywords on your page of choice, use them in your meta description.
If the user mentions those keywords in their query, the keywords in the meta description will appear in bold font. This can increase your click-through rate even further.
Do take care not to stuff your meta description with too many keywords though. This can make your meta description look spammy, and may prevent search engine users from clicking on your link.
Don’t mislead web users
It’s important your meta description accurately reflects the content that is on your page.
If you try to mislead search engine users in order to get additional clicks, the search engines may provide an alternative meta description.
By making your meta description stand out, you’re more likely to encourage search engine users to visit.
Avoid boring language, use active rather than passive voice and be as engaging as possible.
Provide a call to action
Putting a strong call to action in your meta description helps your search engine users understand what they will be able to do if they click on your link.
For example, will they be able to buy a product, request a quote or sign up for your newsletter?
Keep an eye on best practices when it comes to meta descriptions
Search engines often change their minds about how they display meta descriptions. By keeping ahead of the curve, you can adapt your meta descriptions to suit, giving you the edge over your competitors.
As an example, in 2017, Google announced that it was trialling meta descriptions of 320 characters, giving businesses extra space to describe their pages. The meta description length has now gone back down, but keeping abreast of the latest trends will help improve your search engine presence.
Despite not impacting search engine results directly, meta descriptions still matter in 2022.
By taking the time to create well-thought-out and contextual descriptions, you can help boost traffic to your website and help users find the information they need.