The meta description tag is a 160-character snippet in HTML used to summarize a web page’s content to search engines. Although a meta description doesn’t contribute to search engine rankings, it essentially acts as an organic ad text, helping to gain user click-through from search engine result pages. Is a meta description necessary? With the search algorithms shifting to provide better user experience with more accurate search results, search engines like Google use click-through-rate as a way of determining if your results are the best match for a user’s search. A compelling meta description should contain several key elements to effectively convert users at a higher rate.
Characteristics of a Good Meta Description
- Include a Researched, Focus Keyword
If a meta description contains a term searched by the user, most search engines will bold the keyword in the description when they match search queries. Including several different target terms and/or long tail terms will help drive users to convert. Below are few examples of well-crafted, unique meta descriptions which include targeted or focus keywords.
- Match with Title Tag and On-Page Content
It’s important that a meta description delivers the same message as is conveyed in a title tag and on-page content. Including the same target keywords used in a title tag and throughout on-page content helps signify to search engines and users your relevance for an exact search query. Below perfectly exemplifies a meta description with bolded terms that does not correlate well with the title tag keywords for the search term ‘Women’s Sun Hats”. This search result doesn’t convince a user that they will indeed find women’s sun hats, but possibly winter hats instead.
- Avoid Duplicate Meta Descriptions
As with title tags, it’s crucial that meta descriptions are unique for each page. As displayed below, if a search engine doesn’t find the meta description relevant enough for the matching search query, it will use other content and/or website elements to fill up that space. Ultimately, this drives down user experience as the message may not be enticing enough for a user to convert.