Why do we need meta descriptions?

Despite the fact we all see them every time we Google anything, lots of people still don’t know what a meta description is. A meta description is a really useful piece of information, both for Google and for the human user, and we should all be using them on our sites and pages.

A meta description, put simply, is a short summary of the page that has been returned as a search result. For example, check out our meta description when you find us on Google:

Artemis meta description

In the red box you will see the short summary we have written. This is an absolutely crucial part of the search process, yet we’re always surprised by how many people aren’t using their meta descriptions at all.

The trick is to use your keywords, but use them cleverly. Google ‘reads’ this meta description to get an idea about what it will find on the page, and if your keywords are there it will know that it is relevant to show this page to people who have searched for those terms.

However, as always, it’s not about keyword-stuffing, where you cram in keyword after keyword for the sake of attracting Google’s attention. For example, if you have a website for your Sussex sweetshop and your meta description reads ‘Sweets candy bonbons toffee chocolate liquorice sugary sour sweetshop Sussex’, this is a bad description.

This is because a) Google will know exactly what you’re up to and b) it’s not at all user friendly. Users read in full sentences and they’re not just looking for keywords, so write a natural sentence containing your keywords for the best meta description.

Also keep it under 160 characters – like a tweet with a bit more leeway. In fact, a good way to write one is to think about how you’d describe your site in a single tweet. This is because most search engines only display 160 characters in the meta description area, so don’t go overboard.

Leaving the meta description field blank on a page will just pull a section of text out of that page to fill the area, but this won’t always be the part you want the user to focus on, so make the decision for them and show them a solution to their problem, what they will find on the page or something else that will tempt them onto the page.

We put a lot of careful thought into sculpting good meta descriptions for our clients, so get in touch if you’d like to find out more about this and many other SEO concepts from the Sussex SEO experts.