One of the most consistently overlooked elements of any well-optimized page, post, or site is the meta description. If you’re new to on-page SEO, meta descriptions are the little blurbs of text beneath each blue link in search engine results—and, their purpose is to tell the searcher what the page is about.
Do I Need Meta Descriptions?
We get it. It can be a pain to write a unique and descriptive chunk of text after you’ve already written the page content. After all, even the most perfect meta description won’t improve page rankings, right? Correct.
Meta descriptions won’t help your pages rank higher, but that doesn’t mean they’re not valuable. In fact, Google can, and often does, insert the chunk of text it likes best if you haven’t bothered to write a meta description or it deems what you’ve written subpar.
So why waste your time writing them? Because meta descriptions directly impact whether or not readers click on your link instead of the ones above it or below it. Put simply, you can’t afford to overlook or ignore something that can greatly improve click-through rate. And, Google has all but confirmed click-through rate is a ranking factor.
Writing An Optimized Meta Description
Think of a meta description as an executive summary. It provides the context necessary for a reader to click or pass on a certain link and there’s definitely a right way to write them. Here are four components of a successful meta description:
- Length: it should be 200-320 characters (Google increased this number in December 2017)
- Context: it should describe what the page is about and be unique from all other content
- Optimized: it should contain a primary keyword and 1-2 related keywords or phrases
- Actionable: it should be written to entice the reader to take action
The Bottom Line
You put in all that time and devote all those resources to get your site, landing page, or blog post ranking highly for certain search terms, so don’t sabotage your efforts by overlooking one of the most important elements driving user engagement.
Writing a well-optimized meta description is just one component in a sound SEO strategy. For more, check out our list of performance-boosting SEO tips and tricks.