Check out my latest video on Meta descriptions – why we have them and how to write them:
Oh, G’day there, Ashley from WebStrategies here. I just want to talk briefly about the importance of meta descriptions, what they are, and what they are used for. Meta descriptions are unique to each page on your website and you can usually manage these in your website admin or CMS. Google does use them in the Search Result Pages (SERPs) but they don’t appear in the page anywhere visually that you can see.
I’ll just give you an example. When someone does a search for my target phrase which is “SEO Sunshine Coast,” then we get search results in which I, or my website, appears. Now, the meta description, which I can control on that page, will appear in the results as the little descriptor underneath the title in the search results.
The search phrase is often obolded by Google within the title and the metadescription which gives it relevance obviously, and when people scroll down, if they see the phrase bolded, then this helps to draw their attention to your result.
Now I choose not to put the exact phrase in my metadescription like some people do. It’s not really required nowadays because Google has stated that how you write your meta description does not directly affect your rankings. It should really be written to help sell the click on your result in the SERRPs. So, if someone does a search for “SEO Sunshine Coast,” my result appears. It is important to get your keywords in this title tag, but the meta description tag helps sell the click on that title.
Usually the meta description tag should be around 150 characters, but Google on occasion can use a longer one. If it’s longer and Google doesn’t want to use it, you’ll get these ellipses at the end and your description will just disappear off the end. We don’t really want that so better to aim for the 150-character limit.
When writing your meta description think about people doing the search. Think about them scrolling down the results and finding your result, reading it, and then clicking on it. That’s what you’re thinking about when you write this meta description.
In order to actually manage the meta description on your page, if you’re using WordPress, it’s easy enough. Go into Edit for the page, scroll down, and ideally you’d have the Yoast SEO plugin installed, which makes it all a lot easier. Find the Yoast SEO plugin section for the page, and edit the snippet. You can write your meta description in there, and it gives you the green bar to indicate your length is about right. If you keep going longer, it will turn red because you’re too long, and if you go too short, it’ll do the same thing.
When you’re on a mobile, it’ll preview how your meta title and your meta description reads. For mobile it’ll pull up a little preview of the image so you can make sure you’ve got the right one showing. Usually that’ll be the feature image for the page, and if you’re on desktop, it’ll show you how that appears as well so that you can get it right.
Its a good idea to put a bit of thought into these meta descriptions to make sure they read well so that when someone does a search, they click on your result rather than someone else’s.
That’s it for now. Thank you very much.