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Best Practices for Meta Descriptions

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Our SEO team has put together another blog to help you get the best performance out of your SEO efforts!

This is building on from a previous post that we wrote about meta descriptions, and we’re going to give you some advice on precisely how you should craft your meta descriptions for the best results – and what you should avoid if you want to stay in Google’s good books!

Google has recently adjusted their stance on meta descriptions and other snippets, so let’s break this down into just the basics for you so you know exactly what you should be doing and what you should be avoiding.

A recap on meta descriptions

Meta descriptions are the snippets of text that appear below hyperlink results on search engines such as Google. Although you can have a say on what you want your meta description to be, Google has a reputation for rewriting them to whatever it wants.

They are different for every page on your site, and can also be different depending on what search result they are showing for. This is so that your meta description most closely matches the searcher’s intent. Bear with us while we give you an example.

Let’s say you have a page on your site where you compare dog breeds. Your page may appear for the search ‘golden retriever facts’ and also for the search ‘rottweiler facts’. For each of these searches, your meta description will more than likely be different, with Google pulling a snippet of text either containing the words ‘golden retriever’ or ‘rottweiler’ respectively – despite your page being about more dog breeds than just those two.


How do you write a good meta description?

A good meta description correctly surmises the content on your webpage and gives the searcher enough information to know whether they should click on your site.

In essence, your snippets account for one of the first steps in your conversion journey as they are among one of the first pieces of content of yours that a potential customer will see.

Practices from past years, before the release of many, many, Google algorithm updates, have become outdated and no longer return the best results – more on that later.

After all of these updates is it even possible for you to actually write a good meta description that will entice people to click on your site and please Google at the same time?

Yes, it is possible!

First of all, there is a pixel limit that will cut your meta description short with an ellipsis if it is too long, so keep your descriptions below that pixel limit to ensure that all of your content can be seen. The ideal length is usually anywhere between 120-156 characters.

Second, make sure you are providing value. Give an overview of what’s actually on the page so that it can entice viewers and help Google know what your page is about, but also consider including additional information that relates to your business too. This will of course change depending on what your business does and what type of webpage it is, but common examples are either business information or product information.

If you’re still unclear on how you should write your meta descriptions, then it might be easier to think about what to do if we give you a list of what we know you should definitely not do. So here goes…

Bad meta descriptions

Probably the most obvious example to give of bad meta descriptions are those that are stuffed with keywords. This is when you just use target keywords in the hope of improving your organic performance.

Google clamped down on keyword stuffing hard and it is included as part of their quality guidelines as a frowned upon technique.

Another example of a poor meta description is a template snippet that is designated for multiple web pages. Not only do templated descriptions prevent you from providing unique, accurate summaries of what is on your webpage, but copied descriptions also contribute to duplicate content and can harm your rankings.


Is it bad not to include a meta description?

This depends. Some pages do not require meta descriptions, but at the least your most critical webpages should have optimised meta descriptions. This includes your homepage and whatever pages get the most traffic.

It can be quite nerve-wracking when you perform an SEO audit and you are bombarded with tons of red warning signs because you have missing meta descriptions. Depending on what type of website you have, you could at any point have hundreds of pages with no descriptions and it would take days to create unique ones.

In this case, pick your battles. Make sure you are including meta descriptions on your most important pages and add the rest to the bottom of the to-do list. Something that you can chip away at when you have time to spare.

Complete SEO services at Blaze Media

For our clients, meta description optimisation account for a small portion of the SEO work that we do.

We can take care of all aspects of your SEO including on-page, off-page, and technical. An initial in-depth audit will give us an overview of your site and what actions we can take to improve your SEO, then we will also include your business goals and desired areas for growth into our plans, too.

If you are interested in what we have to offer, get in touch and we can schedule a consultation either over the phone, at our swanky office in the Baltic Triangle, Liverpool, or at your own workplace!

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