Meta tags are elements that allow you to indicate to Google bots and other search engines, very important information so that they can understand your subject and content. Specifically, the meta description is a very interesting meta tag because it allows you to include a large amount of content, being able to communicate a lot of valuable information about the site to Google, in addition to including the keywords for which you want a position.
On a website, a meta description must be added to each of the URLs that form it, and this meta description must be original and different from the rest, in order to maximize its effect on web positioning.
What is a meta description?
A meta description is an HTML markup language tag used to describe the content of a page. Each URL of a website must have a meta description that tells search engines what the site is about, and offers you a text that can be displayed on your results pages, accompanying the title and link of the page.
Where to include the meta description
The meta description tag must be implemented in the HTML document within its header. It is usually preceded by the title tag, including an optimized description of the theme of the website.
Meta description example
Why are meta descriptions important?
1. Provide information to Googlebots
When Google bots crawl a URL, they check its meta tags. The meta description is the ideal place to provide important information to Google about the theme and content of the site, adding the keywords to facilitate your indexing correctly.
2. Get to increase the CTR
The meta description text is what Google uses to display in the SERPs, just below the page title and its link. The meta description text helps to attract the attention of users and influences their decision to click on the link to access the content.
Using descriptions that add value and with elements that attract attention (capital letters, numbers, icons …) will increase the CTR (the number of clicks that users will make on the Google results in pages).
Google recently announced that, although it will continue to take into account the meta description when displaying them in the SERPs, will also consider paragraphs of the content itself to display them instead of the meta description (due to the advancement of the algorithm, Google can say if the meta description or a part of the content is more relevant to the user).
The length of meta descriptions: make them SEO Friendly
Google will only read the first 320 characters of the meta description, ignoring the rest of the characters if this figure is exceeded. In addition, in the results pages or SERPs, it will only show as a summary of the web, from 140 to 160 characters (starting from the beginning).
Therefore, it is very important to optimize and place the text correctly in the description, to ensure that Google can read it, and show in the SERPs what you really want to transmit from the site.
How to write a good meta description
Always respect the length
You must always respect the length of the meta description from 140 to 160 characters , as it is what Google will show the user. In this way, it will be possible to condense in that text in a simple and clear way, everything that you want to transmit on the web.
Original meta description
Each URL should have its own meta description, tailored to the content of your page. Repeating the meta description will confuse Google when it comes to positioning them.
A description must be short and compact to be within the character limit but must be written correctly (with good syntax and no spelling mistakes). The text of the description must be of quality to project a good image to users and generate enough confidence for them to click on the link.
Including keywords in the description in a natural way is key to improving web positioning and better helping the user to understand what the content on the page is about.
Common mistakes when making meta descriptions
When it comes to writing meta descriptions, many mistakes or errors are made, many of them due to haste or ignorance of the importance for Google and SEO of this meta tag.
Some of the most common errors in relation to the description of URLs are:
- Repeat descriptions. Many times, it is tempting to repeat meta descriptions on similar pages, just to save time.
- Do not include the most important. In a meta description, you have to condense the most important or relevant of a page to show it to the user. Making generic or empty meta descriptions of content is a common mistake that is made, above all, by not spending time to design a good description.
- Do not include keywords. In the meta description, it is a big mistake not to include the related keyword, as it is an ideal place to tell Google that this is the keyword for which you want to rank. Of course, the keyword must be introduced naturally in the text of the description to achieve a good result.
- Do not include a call to action. For certain pages, it is relevant to include a call to action or call to action in the meta description. If it is not included, many clicks will be lost from users who would have made them when guided by that call to action.
- Don’t use flashy elements. Keep in mind that the meta description is a differentiating element that allows the page to attract the attention of the user and that they do not look at the other results of the SERPs. If elements such as capital letters, numbers, icons or symbols are not used in the description, the impact of the description on users will be less, reducing the number of clicks the page receives.
Useful online tools to verify your meta descriptions
To create, modify and verify meta descriptions, different tools can be used that considerably facilitate the process:
- WordPress plugins. If you use the WordPress content gesture, there are many plugins and plugins that make it easy to manage the meta tags of the pages of a site. For example, the Yoast SEO plugin includes fields to customize the meta description tag when creating a post or page.
- SEO platforms. There are advanced SEO online tools, such as SEMrush and Ahrefs, where it is possible to monitor the meta tags of the different URLs of a site, and get recommendations to optimize them (with related keywords or long tail, for example).
- Portent. Portent is an online tool that allows you to preview SERPs. With this tool, it is very easy to work and verify meta tags.
The meta description is a very important meta tag since it indicates to Google the theme and content of a website, and provides the ideal text to include it in its results pages.
Optimizing the description will attract the attention of users, and increase the CTR or number of clicks obtained in the SERPs. They are a differentiating element that must be taken into account in on-page SEO, to optimize the different URLs of the site and get the most of its benefits.