Elements of a Good Meta Description

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

  1. 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.

Well-Written Meta Description Example Meta Description Example
  1. 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.

Poorly Written Meta Description
  1. 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.

Avoid Duplicate or Missing Meta Descriptions


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