If you're running an eCommerce business or working on a website, you may have heard of meta descriptions. But what are they and how can they help your website's SEO? In this SEO Meta Description Guide, we'll give you the lowdown.
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WHAT IS A META DESCRIPTION?
So, a meta description is a short summary of what your webpage is all about. It pops up under your webpage's title and URL on search engine results pages (SERPs). You can use up to 155-160 characters to describe your content as accurately and succinctly as possible.
We used to stick to the 160-character limit religiously but found that it's better to provide a slightly more descriptive description of what's on the page that finds a happy medium between relevant and important factors including descriptiveness, conciseness, benefits/CTA. To do this, we often keep the bulk of the important/descriptive information within the initial 160 characters while using a portion of the ending character limit to soft close the description with a leading CTA that a user can understand without needing to see the entire text. We believe that because this more closely follows Google’s Guidelines, doing it this way has a better chance of Google choosing the specified description and reduces the chance of it generating its own.
Providing a slightly longer description using our 'soft close' method also allows Google to play with the text to auto-optimise it, so to speak.
HOW DO OPTIMISED META DESCRIPTIONS BENEFIT MY WEBSITE’S SEO?
The purpose of meta descriptions is two-fold. Firstly, they help search engines understand what your page is all about. Secondly, they give users a summary of your page's content so they can decide whether or not to click on your page.
Now, here's the cool bit. Optimised meta descriptions can benefit your website's SEO in a few ways. They help search engines figure out what your page is all about, which can boost your search engine rankings. Plus, a well-written meta description can encourage users to click on your page, which can improve your click-through rate (CTR).
A high CTR shows search engines that your page is relevant and valuable to users, which can further improve your website's search engine rankings.
So, how long should your meta description be? Well, Google displays up to 155-160 characters, so you should aim for that length. If your meta description is too short, it might not describe your page accurately. But if it's too long, search engines might truncate it, which can be annoying for users.
TOOLS FOR PREPARING YOUR META DESCRIPTIONS
Now, there are some tools that you can use to help you create the perfect meta description. One of the most popular tools is Yoast SEO, which is a WordPress plugin that provides a range of SEO tools, including a meta description editor.
Yoast SEO makes it easy to write and optimise your meta descriptions for search engine results pages. It even shows you a preview of how your meta description will look in search engine results, so you can tweak it until it's just right.
Another tool that you can use is our very own SERP Preview Tool, which you can use to see how your page titles & meta descriptions might display in the search results. You can use it to check the length and see what things might get cut off and to better optimise the description for higher engagement.
If you’re wondering what your current meta descriptions are, BuzzStream has a great tool that lets you download any URL’s current PT & MD. This one is great for checking bulk amounts of URls - just copy, paste and download the CSV! But if you’re wanting to check just a single URL, Meta Tags is our go-to. It’s also got a handy display of Open Graph data for the URL, showing you how it displays when shared through various Social Media channels.
With these tips and tools, we’re sure you can create a killer meta description that boosts your SEO and drives traffic to your website. If you need any help with your website's SEO, just give us a shout. We're here to help!