They may not be important in obtaining high ranking in search results pages, but they are vital when it comes to obtaining high click-through rates. Meta descriptions are those HTML attributes that provide users with information on what the content of the webpage is all about.
Meta descriptions are displayed on search results pages as snippets for the pages listed. People using search engines use these Meta descriptions to determine if the pages listed contain the information they are looking for.
Best Practices for Meta Descriptions
Although your Meta descriptions will not affect the ranking of your page on search results pages, they will help to draw users to your page by encouraging them to click on the link. It is therefore important to make the most of your Meta descriptions. Begin by applying the following tips.
Use compelling content
Your Meta description is like an advertisement of the content on the page. It is therefore important to structure the content of the description with an aim of encouraging users to click on the link. Your Meta description should be readable and include important keywords since search engines will bold these keywords to match the query.
Keep it concise
Although Meta descriptions can be any length, it is good practice to keep them short. A good length for Meta descriptions is about 160 characters.
Keep them unique
It is important to keep your title tags unique and the same goes for Meta descriptions. You can prevent the display of duplicate Meta descriptions for automated pages by employing a dynamic program to create unique content for the Meta descriptions.
Keep away from non-alphanumeric characters
Non-alphanumeric characters are okay when you want a unique password that’s difficult to crack. However, they can be detrimental when it comes to Meta descriptions. Google will cut off the description at the point where any of these characters appears. It is therefore important to steer clear of characters such as quotation marks to prevent truncation of your description.
Consider not adding a meta description
Although having a Meta description is wise, there are sometimes when it is better not to have one. It can be better to let the search engine extract the relevant content from the page itself. This is especially beneficial when targeting long-tail keyword phrases (i.e. phrases with more than three keywords).
Remember that social sharing platforms such as Facebook and twitter will use the Meta description when the content is shared. It is therefore important to create a description that can easily draw in users from search results pages as well as from social platforms.