What is a meta description?
A meta description is a simple piece of text that is usually no more than 155 characters in length, including spaces. It is an HTML element with the purpose to tell website visitors and search engines what can be found on the page.
It appears on search engine result pages as a small paragraph of information underneath the page’s URL. However, it can appear in other areas on the web as well. For example, it is often the content that is used when people share content on other websites, like social media.
Because it is a piece of content that is separate from the other content on a website, it must be entered into the <head> section of the site’s HTML. Some platforms make it easy to enter the description by providing a designated section for this kind of content.
Why create a meta description for web pages?
Google does not use the content in a meta description to determine a page’s ranking, but it is still important because it can influence someone’s decision to click on the link. The better the description, the more likely someone searching on a search engine will click on the link. The more people click through a particular page or website, the more traffic it gets. That effects a website’s ranking.
Meta description and the title tag
The meta description is only one part of the meta information that is included on a website. A quality description must be paired with the meta title tag.
The title tag appears above the description and the website’s URL. It is what a searcher clicks on to be redirected to the website that appears on the search engine results page. It is a concise and accurate way to tell a person searching content on the web what can be found on each page.
It should summarize the information that can be found on the page, and a good meta title summarizes the content that is found in the description. These two pieces together tell search engines and people searching the web what can be found on a particular page in an instant.
Details of a good meta description
Details of a good description include:
- The most important keyword or words on the page
- Easy-to-read, natural sounding copy
- No more than 155 words in length
- Content that is unique to every page on a website
- Content that is written in an active voice
- A call to action that prompts the reader to click
An effective meta description is written as an advert for the content on the webpage, encouraging web searchers to click on that site when it is one of many results on the page.