What Is The Meta description and Why Is It So important?

07 Apr, 2015

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When someone is talking about a Meta description, they are referring to the Meta tags in the source code of a website. This Meta tag is not visible to the normal reader, but it can be read by Google and other search engines. 

Google's search results have many parts, and the Meta description plays a big role in the number of people that actually click on your result. 

The more informative and attractive a Meta description is, the more likely it is that people using Google will click on your result instead of the others in the results. 

The Meta description is nothing more than just a brief summary of the website for which it is intended. 

How do you write a good Meta description? 

Try to think of a good Meta description in the same way a movie overview represents its movie. You are trying to motivate the viewer to click on your result, which is the first step in getting someone from Google onto your site. 

A good Meta description should be short and concise and contain your most important keywords. In addition to using your keywords, it is important to use phrases that will interest potential viewers (e.g. for online shops: "buy for cheap," "test now for free," or "no shipping"). Using capital letters could be a good idea in order to capture the viewers' attention. 

You can further structure your Meta description with checkmarks, "✓", or other structuring elements. 

What happens when the Meta description is too long? 

If the description is too long, then there is a big chance that it won't be completely displayed in the search results and you will see ellipses (3 dots similar to...) at the end of your description instead. If you go over Google's limit, then you are just wasting potential that could be used to get more customers on your site. 

Why does Google sometimes display a different description? 

Google is able to create its own Meta description. When Google finds that your Meta description fits to the search term that the user entered, Google will display that in the results. If Google decides that your meta description doesn't fit with the entered search term, Google will analyze your site and build a description based on the search term and display that in the results instead. 

You should pay attention to the following when making a Meta description: 

  • Every individual page on your website should have its own Meta description 
  • The Meta description should not be more than 150 characters (including spaces), although it can be much shorter 
  • The Meta description should call attention, gain interest and desire, and then make a call to action for the viewer to click on your result 

Where is the Meta description in the source code of a website? 

The Meta description tag can be found in the "head" area of an HTML document, just like the <title> tag. You can find this by going to the website, right-clicking on the background, and then clicking on "View Page Source." The Meta description looks like the following in the source code: 

<head> 

... 

<meta name="description" content="META DESCRIPTION TEXT HERE"/> 

... 

</head> 

rankingCoach has many tutorials showing you how to change your Meta description in your Content Management System (CMS), such as WordPress, and many other CMS systems.

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