Every web page on the internet should have a descriptive and helpful meta description that aids searchers understand a search listing before they click. Of course this is not the case with every website, some Web Masters use the same meta description on every page or leave it out all together. If you’re interested in improving your search traffic, carefully crafting ,your meta descriptions is an art you need to master. While meta descriptions don’t affect search rankings in Google, they can heavily influence click-through-rate (the number of people who see and click on your link). Meta descriptions help both search engines and people understand what your page is about on search results pages and every meta description represents another opportunity for your web page to stand out against the rest.
The meta description tag is located in the <head> portion of a web page and will look something like this in your site code:
<meta name=”description” content=”Free shipping BOTH ways on shoes, clothing, and more! 365-day return policy, over 1000 brands, 24/7 friendly customer service. 1-800-927-7671″ />
When it appears in a search result it will look like this:
Note: Google does not *always* use the meta description in search results. Sometimes a relevant section of your site will appear instead. In some cases a business description from DMOZ.org will appear, but in most cases you will see the meta description you wrote.
Meta Description Length
The rule of thumb is that your meta description should be no longer than 55-60 characters, but it’s worth testing. Google likely uses a pixel measurement rather than a character limit—so if you use lots of skinny characters, you may be able to squeeze in a little more.
Unique Meta Descriptions
Like the title tag, the meta description is designed to describe a single page. This means every page on your website should have a unique description. Duplicate titles and meta descriptions may hurt your rankings.
The Importance of a Good Meta Description.
Remember, even if you have top rankings on a keyword, you still have to convince users to click on your result over others. This means you’re title and meta description need to be compelling and speak to the customer. As you can see Zappos lists a number of customer benefits in their description: free shipping, 365 return policy, over 1000 brands, customer service. These are all compelling reasons to click. They even add their phone number, which not only makes them seem more trustworthy but it allows mobile phone users to tap-to-call right from the search result.
Using a Call to Action
In this example mail chimp tells potential visitors exactly what to do: Join them today. Sign up Free.
Adding a call to action to your meta description is a great way to increase click through rate.
Avoid Keyword Stuffing
Creating a list of keywords you want to rank for, won’t help you no matter where you place them. People and Google, want clear statements that explain what your pages are about. Avoid keyword lists in the title, meta description, and the meta keyword field (the meta keyword field is rarely used by search engines).
Got your meta description mastered? Learn about writing title tags.