If a meta title is like a newspaper headline, then a meta description is a bit like the standfirst or byline and give a short description of the content on the page. Meta descriptions will appear in search results below your meta title and play the role of summarising the content of a page for search engines, whilst informing readers of page content – meta description heavily influence click-through rates and good ones can entice users to check out your pages content.
Meta descriptions usually sit in the head area of your HTML code, although they are usually easily editable in the settings of most content management systems (CMS).
You might expect to see something like this for your HTML.
<meta name =“description” content=”Here is an example of a meta description explaining the website content and purpose. You will usually see this in your search results.”
How to optimise your Meta Descriptions
Crafting the perfect meta descriptions takes a little bit of careful thought and consideration. If you’re an SEO expert in Sydney here are some things you should take into consideration in order to avoid being penalised by Google and to ensure that you get the best results.
Although it varies, the generally accepted optimal length for a meta description over the last few years has been between about 60-160 characters because good tends to truncate descriptions around the 155-160 character mark. Longer descriptions tend to be cut off with ellipses. Your descriptions should be descriptive and legible, as the aim is to provide value and drive users to click and view your web page. Most people browsing search engine results will be trying to find out how relevant the content on your page is to their search, so make sure to include relevant keywords and key information in your description in order to entice readers to click.
Whilst it’s important to include keywords in your meta description, this should not be done in a non-natural way as the meta description plays an important role in encouraging click-through from search engine results. Your meta description should be accurate and related to the content on the page that it is linked to. Make sure your sentence structure has a natural flow and is suitable for humans as well as robots.
Is it a ranking factor?
Google has recently advised that meta descriptions are not currently a ranking factor for websites, however they do greatly impact click-through rate which will effect ranking and your SEO results so for this reason you should put some effort into them. They are one of the first things searchers will see, so view them as an advertising opportunity and don’t ignore them.
Your Meta Description won’t always be used
It’s important to note that your meta description won’t always be used. Sometimes search engines will override your meta description, this usually happens if the search query is not adequately answered and Google finds a snippet from your content that it feels better answers the query.
If you leave your meta description blank, the search engine will choose and display snippets from your content. I most cases, the search engine snippet will not be an improvement on a well-written meta description specific for the purpose, however the search engine will always display relevant keywords, so it can be a good choice when using long-tail keywords, in order to give the most relevant results to users.
You should keep in mind though that in the absence of a meta description most social sites will display the first text on your page. This can be a poor user experience.
So there you have it, some things to keep in mind when creating a meta description!