Great website content is one of the top-ranking factors for a web page, but even the best content for an audience sometimes cannot be found by a user when other factors are not optimized.
From the start, users a lot of times will need to click on a link to land on your web page and begin consuming your content. In most cases, they are given available links to click on when they type in a search query with keywords of the topics they are interested in finding answers for. While great content may help your website rank better when they perform this search, it’s the title tags and meta descriptions that will either persuade users to click or to ignore your links.
While we’ll find that meta descriptions do not directly increase rankings, meta descriptions can be a huge benefit for your site if you used correctly.
What is a Meta Description?
The meta description is the short blurb of text that appears under the blue link title tag in search results. Its purpose is to summarize the contents of the page link in about 160 characters or less, and ultimately entice users to click on the link to view the content.
It’s apparent that the text in title tags is a huge ranking factor, which should prompt clear keywords and a clear topic that relates to the page’s content. Fortunately, Google search provides an opportunity to give searchers the topic of content on your page through meta title tags, but also a short description and overview of the content through a meta description.
Meta Descriptions & SEO/Search Rankings
Although a site’s title tag and meta description are included in HTML, Google has made it clear that meta descriptions do not directly affect search rankings. In other words, words in a meta description are not being crawled by a bot to determine rankings. The main purpose of the meta description is to captivate the user’s attention to click on the link to be sent to your web page.
When a user clicks your link, that click is noted by Google and is calculated with the total number of people who viewed your link to come out with the Click Through Rate (CTR), or the percentage of people who clicked on the link out of those who saw it. The CTR is a ranking factor by Google and other search engines, so it’s important to focus on strategies to improve it, including using a captivating meta description!
The Benefits of a Great Meta Description
While a fantastic meta description will not directly affect the rankings of a page, there is an abundant amount of benefits that meta descriptions offer — all of which should not be ignored when writing your meta descriptions. Aside from the big benefit of increasing a site’s CTR, below is a list of some of the biggest benefits that a great meta description will provide.
Mini (free) Ad Space
The search engine results pages (SERPs) is a super competitive area. Why not take advantage of the times that you are winning in the page ranking game? An optimized meta description will utilize a high ranking page as a mini ad for the page, giving the core message, a call to action, and ultimately captivate your audience.
Share Great Content
Even when a user does not end up clicking on your ad, meta descriptions can still share a message that can educate and connect with an audience. Use your meta description to fill your free ad space with a great, clear, and informative message.
When forming your great content, it’s important to use an active voice as the goal of the content is having them click on your link. Using an active voice is also helpful when giving a CTA, so that users feel encouraged to click on the link.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that your meta descriptions are best utilized when written uniquely for each page. Each of your pages has a unique purpose, so it’s important that your meta description communicates the uniqueness of each particular page.
Compliment Your Content and Title Tag
A great meta description will give an overview of a page that provides users with the ability to determine if the page’s content is what they are looking for. A huge benefit of meta descriptions is its ability to give a user a better understanding of the content. While reading the title tags gives the main theme of the content, the meta description has the space (up to around 160 characters) to give some specific details about the page.
When a meta description is effectively used a site’s dwell time, or the amount of time that people are spending on a site, can improve drastically due to a decrease in people leaving the instant they realize that the page is not what they were looking for.
Optimize Your Meta Description Tag
Improving your website’s click-through rate (CTR) through a great meta description can offer many benefits to your site if your content is optimized, as long as you are being clear and transparent to users. Any user that lands on a page with the content they were not expecting will immediately exit, which decreases your site’s dwell time, and is not a good thing for your SEO efforts.
But what if you have great content that users are actually searching for? Then, the meta description is exactly what you need to connect users to this content! This is your free space online to give users the core message of your web page content, and include a call to action with an extra push to click on your link. An optimized meta description is one that completely fulfills its purpose while taking advantage of its benefits.
So while Google does not use meta descriptions to rank your page, there are still many benefits that an optimized meta description can offer you. For these reasons, it’s important that you focus on continually improving your meta descriptions.
To learn more about how to optimize your meta description to increase your CTR, dwell time, and ultimately improve your SEO initiatives, click here.