What is a Meta Description?
A meta description, also known as a snippet or SEO description is an HTML attribute that provides a summary or overview of the content of a web page.
Meta descriptions appear on search engine result pages (SERP) under the meta title tag and the URL.
Here is an example of how a meta description appears in HTML code:
<meta name="description" content= "Learn the fundamentals of SEO in our comprehensive tutorial. Discover proven strategies, keyword research techniques, and on-page optimization tips to boost your website's visibility and attract organic traffic. Get started today!">
In the above example, the snippet includes the “meta” tag and sits inside the “content” attribute.
And here is an example of how a meta description appears in SERP:
What is the purpose of meta descriptions?
Meta descriptions serve as the representatives of the webpage content in SERP. Here are the key purposes of meta description:
SERP Snippets: Snippets help search engine users understand what’s basically inside a webpage by providing a short description of the page’s content.
Increases user engagement: Well-written, inviting snippets can attract search engine users and get them to engage with the pages’ content and trigger action.
Boost CTR (Click-through-Rate): An attractive snippet or ad description can encourage people to click on the link, boosting CTR.
SEO optimization: Meta description plays a crucial role in SEO. Informative and relevant descriptions can help the webpage to rank higher in SERP ranking.
How are snippets created?
Google automatically creates snippets depending on relevant queries. Sometimes, it takes search-related text from the webpage content and uses it as a snippet. That means, Google might display different meta descriptions for different searches.
However, it is recommended to provide Google with a well-informative snippet to have some control over how it might show in different searches.
But to ensure Google always displays the best-quality snippet for your webpage, you have to create thoughtful, user-friendly, and informative content.
There are two ways to suggest content snippets for Google:
1. Via Meta Description Tag
Google can create snippets in two ways - one way is via the <meta> tag provided by the site owner.
Google uses the site owner-provided description when it considers the information more accurate. In this process, the description tag is taken directly from the web page content.
2. Via Structured Data Markup
There are several SERP features that can help Google create a high-quality meta description. Thus, taking advantage of the SERP features and designing webpages accordingly can help webpage owners to lead Google to generate a highly-effective meta description.
How to create a meta description
Incorporate relevant keywords into your meta description. Make use of the keywords that are used in search queries relevant to your content. Note that you shouldn’t overuse keywords in the description.
Some people just copy and paste text from their website’s content and use it as meta description. That’s not good practice. Let Google do it, but don’t do it by yourself. Instead, for quality meta description, write a summary of your page’s content within the meta snippet character limit, so people can get a clear overview of your content when it appears on SERP.
Unique snippet for individual pages
Don’t use the same snippet for multiple pages of your website. As different pages contain different content, your snippet should be different and complimenting the page’s content as well.
Include important and relevant information
Meta description is an important part of your website. You don’t want to stuff it with irrelevant information that doesn’t concern your website. Strategize snippets carefully – prioritize the information most useful for the queries and use it in the snippets.
Don’t be vague
Write your snippets in a detailed, direct manner. Vague meta descriptions might confuse and elude not only the people but also Google crawlers.