The meta description may not be a ranking factor to the search engines, but that doesn’t mean that it should be ignored completely.
A well written meta description can strongly influence the amount of traffic that your website receives from a specific search result.
It’s important to know what details they should contain, in what format, so that machines can read them easily and display the correct information. But it’s just as important to know how to craft them to persuade humans to click.
Get the data right, and the machines will love you.
Get the words right, and the humans will love you.
Anatomy of Great Meta Description
Every organic result you see in the Google SERPs has three minimum components:
- Title: Google often uses the page title specified in your HTML. Other times, it generates a different one, presumably better matched to a searcher’s intent.
- URL: Google experiments with the position and appearance of URLs. Again, this is an attempt to provide more useful information for searchers. For example, it may use a site’s navigational structure to provide breadcrumbs instead of or next to a specific URL to let searchers know what section they’re headed to after they click.
- Description: Google calls this the snippet. Most refer to this as the meta description or description. Google’s machines most often choose the description you write and use in your page’s HTML meta tag — if it contains the best possible information to display for a given search.
Other Important Elements
1. Keep your meta description around 150 characters and under 156 characters. Google will just use an ellipses (…).
2. DON’T USE ALL CAPS! That said, in some cases, all caps for something like FREE SHIPPING might make sense. Or Free Shipping. Or free shipping!
3. Don’t use special characters such as quotation marks. This has nothing to do with search engines and everything to do with HTML code.
Make sure you are utilizing your meta description like free advertising space. Don’t let valuable real estate be misused.