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How to Get the Most Out of Meta Descriptions

19 Mar
2017
Meta Descriptions

Search engines are one of the main ways users find useful content from your website. A meta description, the information the search engine provides about your webpage, can affect how your site ranks in those results. Because this title and description can have a large impact on how your page ranks, it’s important to pay attention to and manage the meta description for every page of your website. Getting the most out of a meta description means understanding what the description is as well as knowing how to approach the description and creating content that will drive traffic in your direction.

What are meta descriptions?

A meta description is the information displayed in the search results of any search engine. Typically, a meta description includes a title as well as a couple of lines of text describing the link or search result entry. Meta descriptions help provide the searcher with relevant content and the information decides whether the user clicks through to the webpage or choose another entry.

Meta descriptions are tagged content for each webpage, and are a great marketing opportunity. This description is the first look a searcher gets into any site, and should be used to help showcase your brand or business effectively. A meta description should be appealing and informative, showing why your link is the best option for the searcher’s needs. Often, meta descriptions are neglected and are just the title and first sentence of the webpage, which doesn’t always do the content justice.

Meta description must-haves

The meta description is what draws viewers to your site, so it’s important to understand how to make the most of each entry. The following are meta description must-haves, the requirements to provide the most success with each entry.

  • The meta title
    • 50-60 characters
    • Shorter than the description
    • Reinforces a key message
    • Adds to the effectiveness of the description
  • The meta description
    • 150-160 characters
    • Unique for each webpage
    • Feels natural
    • Needs a hook as well as an incentive to visit the link
    • Provides specific information

When crafting a meta description it’s important to include the brand’s identity. This is the searcher’s first look at your brand so it’s important to put your best foot forward. Each description should include your call to action, telling the searcher what you want them to do, and what your brand is about. Don’t try to do too much with your description, keep your information relevant to the content and entice the searcher to click through and learn more from you page.

Creating a meta description

The easiest way to create a unique meta description is to use the content management system within your website or install an SEO plug-in. The most used plug-in is Yoast.

Once you locate the SEO tab within the website, look for a meta data field. In this field you will find a meta description section which is where you can write your description within the specifications above. Once you’re finished the description can be saved, published, or updated depending on your preference.

It’s also important to view your meta description before it goes live. Previewing each description will help you make changes and get the most out of the space. A popular tool is available from ToTheWeb.com. With this tool you copy and paste your description which then allows you to preview the content. This is also a great place to check the content for any errors and make any edits or changes. That way the live version is already edited and reviewed.

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Kevin Fairbanks
author

Kevin Fairbanks is the managing partner at PinkTie Technology Group located in Syracuse, NY where he builds everything from responsive websites to mobile applications. In his spare-time he is either spending it with his family or tinkering with electronics.