A meta description is a HTML element that appears in a web page header and gives a summary description of the content that is on a web page. It is placed after the title tag and before the meta keywords tag in the HTML code of a web page. It is the small snippet of information that appears below the link of a search result. By using a meta description, it makes it easier for search engine result pages (SERPs) to know what content is on your web page.
Although Google announced in 2009 that they don’t take the meta tag keywords in your meta description into account when ranking web search results this does not mean that either the keywords or the description are not important. In terms of search engine optimization (SEO), using the correct meta description is vital for improving click through rates (CTRs).
How to use meta descriptions properly
When targeting audiences in search, your meta description needs to be detailed, relevant and eye-catching. As it is unlikely for your target audience to look further than the first two search result pages and because CTRs fall the lower you rank, it is your goal to persuade the searcher to click on your link.
In order to ensure that you are using meta descriptions correctly it is important to keep in mind the following tips:
- Provide a unique description of your content. By doing so it will both improve user experience and help to improve your search ranking.
- Avoid having a lengthy meta description. The shorter and clearer it is for your target audience, the better. Aim to keep it under 155 characters.
- Include keywords but beware of keyword stuffing. Aim to include between one and three keywords in your meta description.
- Use language that invites your target audience to complete a call to action (CTA). Such as, “Discover” or “Learn more.”
- Make it clear, specific and relevant. Never include content in your meta description that cannot be found on your web page. Doing so deceives your target audience and is more likely to cause them to click away from your page which can lead to higher bounce and exit rates.
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