Search engines are incredibly competitive places. You want to do all you can to ensure your page ranks in the top ten results, for the keywords your customers are most likely to use.
However, how do you encourage customers to choose your page as the answer to their search engine query? This is when an amazing meta description comes in.
Many businesses don’t see meta descriptions as important and may even leave the box on their page blank. However, we believe this is a wasted opportunity and it’s still very important to optimise.
As digital marketing experts, we know first hand the power of meta descriptions and how they can get prospective customers to visit your website. In this article, we’ll look at why SEO meta descriptions are so important, and how to write SEO-friendly meta descriptions search engine users will love.
What Is an SEO Meta Description?
A meta description is an HTML tag that summarises the content and purpose of a specific page on your website. This information is shown alongside your page URL and meta description in the search engine results.
Here’s a meta description SEO example. Let’s imagine you run a bathroom redesign service business. The meta description for your home page could be:
The leading bathroom redesign specialists in the UK. High-quality, bespoke solutions to fit your needs. Contact us today for your free, no-obligation quote.
This shows who you are, what you do, and gives a call to action encouraging customers to get in touch. And it’s just about the right length!
We’re often asked if an SEO-friendly meta description is a ranking factor on search engines like Google. Meta descriptions don’t directly affect rankings in the same way backlinks and keyword optimisation do, and Google has confirmed this.
However, SEO meta descriptions do have an indirect effect on SEO. A well-written meta description that uses the right keywords and has a compelling call-to-action can encourage visitors to check out your site.
Think of your meta description as the equivalent of a shop window. Both are the first things a prospective customer sees, so make sure they look good!
SEO Meta Description Length: How Long Does a Meta Description Need To Be?
It’s hard to give a definitive answer to this question, as meta descriptions work using pixel sizes and not characters. For example, a P or a Z take up more space than an I.
However, we recommend that your meta description is between 50 and 160 characters long. While your meta description can be longer, it may be cut off in the search engine results if it’s too wordy. Plus, you don’t want a long, boring meta description that sends your prospective customers to sleep!
Does Google Rewrite SEO Meta Descriptions?
Google has admitted that it sometimes provides its own meta descriptions to search engine users in order to provide information that is more relevant to their needs.
‘Hang on,’ you might be thinking, ‘does this mean I don’t have to bother writing SEO meta descriptions if Google is going to do it for me?’
The problem with this is that Google doesn’t know your website and business like you do. It uses artificial intelligence to show what it thinks is right; however, there is no guarantee that it will be right. This can lead to a confused customer who might skip over your website and click on a computer instead.
So… are SEO meta descriptions still important?
Yes. The more relevant and well-written your SEO meta description, and the more in line with user intent, the less likely Google will rewrite it.
SEO Meta Description Best Practices
How can you write an SEO-friendly meta description that looks good, gets your customers to click and won’t be rewritten by the search engines?
When you’ve only got 160 characters to play with, it can be a challenge!
Here are our top tips for writing the best SEO meta descriptions.
Think Like a Customer
Earlier on, we mentioned that Google is less likely to rewrite your meta description if it matches user intent. By user intent, we mean the specific goal your prospective customer has when they’re searching.
Let’s go back to the bathroom redesign services example from earlier. If a customer is searching for ‘bathroom redesign ideas,’ they might be considering a new bathroom, but are still in the research phase and are a long way off from making a purchase.
However, if they search for ‘bathroom redesign services near me,’ they are a lot closer to buying.
Use this to your advantage when writing your SEO meta description. Understand what your customers want to see and create a meta description that tells them what they need to know. How will your product or service make their lives better?
Bonus points if you can include the keywords you know your customer will use to find your page. These are always emboldened in the search engine results, making your meta description stand out even more.
Keep Your Meta Descriptions Unique
When you have 300 meta descriptions to write, you might be tempted to take a shortcut and use the same description for some or similar pages.
The problem with this approach is that you’re not customising the meta description to each unique page, decreasing the likelihood of engaging your customers. Plus, if two or more pieces of content rank on the same page, duplicated descriptions look sloppy and give a bad impression of your business.
While writing unique SEO meta descriptions may feel like a chore, unless the content and purpose of your page drastically changes, done well, it’s a one-off task. Take the time to create high-quality content, and you’ll reap the benefits both now and in the future.
Don’t Forget Your Meta Title Tag
Your meta title tag works alongside your meta description to tell prospective customers about your business. It’s important to make sure both are optimised to perfection.
Try and keep your meta title between 50 to 70 characters long, add relevant keywords and include your company name for additional raising brand awareness.
Meta descriptions are the unsung heroes of your website. Write the best SEO meta descriptions you can, and you’ll see the click-through rate for your site skyrocket as a result!