What is a Meta-Description Tag ?
A tag on a Web page located in the heading source code containing a basic description of the page. It helps search engines categorize the page and can potentially inform users who come across the page listing in search results.
A meta description tag in HTML is the 160-character snippet used to summarize a web page’s content. Search engines sometimes use these snippets in search results to let visitors know what a page is about before they click on it. In this post, we will look at how search engines use meta descriptions, what the top SEO blogs say about meta descriptions & whether they still use them, and reasons why you should use them.
Meta descriptions can be any length, but Google generally truncates snippets ~300 characters (this limit increased in December 2017). It’s best to keep meta descriptions long enough that they’re sufficiently descriptive, so we recommend descriptions between 50–300 characters. Keep in mind that the “optimal” length will vary depending on the situation, and your primary goal should be to provide value and drive clicks.
Meta description tags, while not tied to search engine rankings, are extremely important in gaining user click-through from SERPs. These short paragraphs are a webmaster’s opportunity to “advertise” content to searchers, and searchers’ chance to decide whether the content is relevant and contains the information they’re seeking from their search query.
A page’s meta description should intelligently (read: in a natural, active, non-spammy way) employ the keywords that page is targeting, but also create a compelling description that a searcher will want to click. It should be directly relevant to the page it describes, and unique from the descriptions for other pages.
Google ranking factor?
Google announced in September of 2009 that neither meta descriptions nor meta keywords factor into Google’s ranking algorithms for web search.
Meta descriptions can however impact a page’s CTR (click-through-rate) on Google which can positively impact a page’s ability to rank.
For that reason, among others, it’s important to put some effort into meta descriptions.
SEO best practices
Write compelling ad copy
The meta description tag serves the function of advertising copy. It draws readers to a website from the SERP, and thus is a very visible and important part of search marketing. Crafting a readable, compelling description using important keywords can improve the click-through rate for a given webpage. To maximize click-through rates on search engine result pages, it’s important to note that Google and other search engines bold keywords in the description when they match search queries. This bold text can draw the eyes of searchers, so you should match your descriptions to search terms as closely as possible.
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