What Is A Meta Description And How To Create Your Own

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Jul 23, 2020

A meta description is a short summary for a webpage.  It appears below the URL within the search engine results (SERPs).  It's important as it gives someone looking through the SERPs an expectation of what will be on a webpage.

Meta descriptions also help the search engines to place a webpage correctly within the SERPs.

This article will help you to understand what you need to write to get users into your website.

What is a meta description?
As described above, meta descriptions are a short summary about the website page they are concerning, you can view them in Google search results and in social shares.  Meta descriptions are placed in the websites code, where the search engine robots take instructions from them as to where to list a website in the SERPs.

You don't have to add meta descriptions, but you're letting Google take control and make the decisions about what should be shown from your page within the SERPs.  On occasions Google can decide to ignore the meta data you have provided, and choose to display content from your page to test to see if the user prefers what Google thinks is right.  It is still best practice to write the meta description so you have some control over what the users see, and not leaving it to Google to work out.

How to add meta descriptions
In order to get a meta description showing, you will need to embed them into the backend of your website page.  The majority of websites come with a Content Manager System (CMS) where you can use an SEO feature, which makes it simple for you to write your meta descriptions for each page, without having to know how to code.  If you don't have a content manager you have the choice of asking your web developer to do the code for you, or writing it yourself.

The meta tag needs to be added to the head section as follows:

meta description example

Optimal meta description length
Now we've sorted out how to include meta descriptions in your website code, it's time to consider their length.

You can write a novel if you wish, but the search engines limit the length of the meta description and will only display up to 160 characters.

Why meta descriptions matter
Meta descriptions encourage people to visit your website, the more people viewing your website and staying on it, the higher your website will move up the rankings within the SERPs.

Meta descriptions also allow you to advertise on Google for free.  Google gives some space, underneath their paid adverts where all other websites can be shown without paying Google for advertising space.  Although if you aren't writing your meta descriptions you'll be paying an SEO consultant to do it for you.

How to write meta descriptions effectively
This is very similar to writing adverts.  You need to accurately portray your product or service, while enticing searchers to click on to your website.  If your meta description does not match your page, the visitor will leave your website within seconds, this gives Google a signal your website isn't answering the searchers question, so your website will be moved further down the rankings.

You need to include your keyword in your meta description, because it makes it easier to accurately describe the content on your page.  Search engines also often highlight the keyword that matches the search terms used, which helps your listing to stand out.

Meta Description Examples
Looking at examples of big brands is often the best way to learn how to write meta descriptions.  Here are a few examples:

John Lewis (URL)
John Lewis & Partners | Homeware, Fashion, Electicals & More
Shop new season trends in home ware, furniture and fashion at John Lewis & Partners.  Discover the latest beauty products and browse must-have electricals...

The first word 'shop' tells the user they can buy things on this website.  Then they use enticing words such as, new season trends, latest beauty, and must-have.  This is an honest description of what is on offer and what a user can expect to find if they visit this website.  They have also cut the description short to make the user want to come into the website to read more.

PetSmart (URL)
PetSmart: Pet Supplies, Accessories and Products Online
Get the best pet supplies online and in store! PetSmart offers quality products and accessories for a healthier, happier pet.  Find in-store pet services like...

Again PetSmart gives an honest description about their website.  Instructions are used - Get pet supplies online and in store.  The user knows they can buy directly from this website or from a shop.  The enticing words come from, best pet supplies, quality, healthier, happier pet, because what pet owner doesn't want those things for their favourite companion.

Compare the Market (URL)
Compare the Market - Recommended by 94.2% of users
Recommended by 94.2% of Users! Let us Help You Save Money and Get a Better Deal.  Compare 100s of Products.  Insurance, Money & More.  Insurance coverage: Car, Home, Life, Pet, Travel, Bike, Landlord, Business.

Straight away Compare the Market tells you 94.2% of their users trust them, this is a clear benefit to the user not to waste their time going anywhere else.  Using words such as 'Let us help you', 'save money', and 'better deal' entice the user into the website.  They then clearly spell out what the user can expect from the website.

A good meta description is the difference between someone visiting your website or your competitors.  Include your unique value, prices if appropriate and a keyword, but above all be honest and describe what is on the page.


Further Reading:
What is digital marketing
Step by step guide to how to make a professional website in 2020
How to create a professional service based website for your business
Is colour important in website design
6 Best Practices for website form layouts
Website goals strategy and tactics - Know the difference

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