On the search engine results pages (or SERPs), the meta description is one of the key elements to optimize in order to stand out and encourage Internet users to click.
It can happen that the meta description is neglected because it does not represent a factor of positioning of the keywords and therefore has no direct impact on SEO. However, its influence on the click rate of a page makes it an indirect SEO influence factor.
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What is the meta description tag?
The meta description of a web page is a tag including descriptive text of the web page, often close to 150 characters long. The meta description appears in the results of a search engine, under the title and URL of the page.
Here is an example of a meta description as it appears in Google search results:
The objective of the meta description is to describe the content of the page to Internet users, but also to encourage them to click to go to your website. Each word that matches the search terms appears in bold in the description, as in the example above with the query “pillar page”.
For each result of the search pages, only a certain number of Internet users will scroll the page and click on one of the results at the bottom. The percentage of clicks gradually decreases over the page because the most relevant results appear, logically, first.
If your site is not mentioned at the top of the results page (or even on the first page), you are leaving with a handicap. It is therefore even more important for you to have a detailed, relevant and catchy meta description.
If you appear at the top of a results page, the same logic also applies: your meta description should be clear and compelling so people don’t want to see the other results.
In summary, the better your meta description, the more likely you are to get good click-through rates from organic searches.
HTML meta description: code and location
Here is the HTML code to insert for the meta description. The code is located in thetag, under the
<title> Titre </title>
<meta name="description" content="La meta description de la page."/>
In a web page, you can access it by right-clicking and clicking on “Display the source code of the page” (or via the shortcut Ctrl + U):
5 good practices for writing a meta description
- Encourage click
- Highlight the value of the page
- Do not exceed 160 characters
- Do not mislead the content of the page
- Be precise
Writing a meta description is a legitimate exercise to create effective commercial texts that must do everything to get a user to click. This is our only goal: to persuade him to click, while remaining exact in order to meet his expectations.
Here’s how to write a clear meta description that will help your potential prospects.
1 – Use terms that prompt action
Formulas that call for action are perfect for texts in call-to-action and that’s what meta descriptions are, at the end of the day: they make it clear to your readers what they’ll get when they click.
Consider starting your meta descriptions with verbs like:
Then provide specific details on what Internet users will be able to do by going to your site.
2 – Offer a solution or an advantage
To differentiate yourself in search results, it’s not always enough to write: “Find out how to increase organic traffic to your blog in 5 steps. “
To offer an advantage or a solution over others, it is relevant to present the advantage of this page over others. This can be for example:
- The fact that your page is concise compared to a competition which generally has longer content,
- The fact that you offer advanced techniques for experienced professionals, or on the contrary that you introduce a complex subject in a simple way.
- Whether you offer a checklist or a template to download.
Write a short sentence that outlines the content and tells people why they should read your article. If necessary, clearly indicate the benefits to them. This is your chance to sell them what you offer: valuable, informative content.
3 – Respect the length of the meta description
A meta description has no fixed length. However, Google often cuts the latter after 150 or 160 characters. Also note that Google does not measure the number of characters, but the pixels (max. 920 pixels, or approximately 158 characters).
4 – Do not mislead the content of the page
Besides the title in the SERP, the meta description is the only way for the Internet user to know what to expect when clicked. If your meta description fools readers with content that doesn’t meet what they’ll get once on your site, expect them to click the back button immediately.
A high bounce rate indicates to search engines that the page does not meet the user’s expectations when a term is searched, and therefore encourages the engines to lower your position on their results page.
Some meta descriptions are still buried under keyword content: this is a very bad idea, probably born out of an old understanding of SEO.
When Internet users and search engines see content swamped with keywords, their red flags are triggered and their confidence is reduced.
5 – Write a precise and relevant text
Most Internet users recognize a predictable, generic meta description when they see it in a search engine result (even if they don’t know exactly what a meta description is).
It is for this reason that it is essential to use descriptive terms, not just empty words that only fill the space, and to do everything possible to engage your target audience and the notify what she will get by clicking on your link.
To take the example of the meta description around blog traffic (“Find out how to increase natural traffic to your blog in 5 steps.”), It is worth adding here some key elements about the content, such as:
- AT who the article is intended for: an experienced traffic manager, someone new to SEO and blogging,
- For which blog: a new blog, an already established blog, a blog with a niche audience.
Other tips for successful meta description
After introducing you to the things to think about when creating and implementing a meta description, it’s time to move on to some of the bad ideas to avoid.
- Do not overload the meta description with keywords. It has no benefit for SEO. Descriptions should focus on providing clear and concise information about your web page. Don’t fill them in with terms just because you think your audience wants to see them.
- Write the meta description at the end. Once you really know what the page or article is about, you will be better able to write a clear meta description that is true to the content.
- Test and track the click-through rate. Via Google Search Console, you have access to click-through rate (CTR) from Google search results. Test meta descriptions with different structures in order to continuously optimize them.
Now you have everything you need to write perfect meta descriptions. To continue this momentum, receive our free e-book which will give you about thirty tips to increase your SEO traffic.