First, what is a meta description?
A meta description is a short description of a website page. Think of it as a mini-summary. You won't find this summary when you are actually viewing the pages, it lives in the HTML behind the scenes. It will tell a search engine bot/spider what each page is all about.
Meta descriptions are small, yet important piece any good search engine optimization strategy.
Now let me tell you this, but don't get too hung up on it...
A Meta Description will not help you rank better in search engines.
That's right. You can stuff as many keywords in there as you want, it's not going to improve your rankings.
If a Meta Description Won't Improve Rank, Why are They Important?
When it comes down to it, your rank in a search engine isn't what is important. The traffic you get is what's important. Not only traffic, but traffic of people that are finding what they are looking for. Meta descriptions help with just that.
Your meta descriptions will pull into the search results just below the title. A good meta description can significantly improve click-through-rate (CTR). CTR is the rate your website result gets clicked in comparison to how frequently your website is shown as a result. The higher your CTR, the more website visits you'll get and hopefully the less your competition will get!
It's important to have a unique meta description so you have some control over what a search engine shows each time your website is shown in search results. If you don't have them a search engine will attempt to pull a portion of the page into the result and it won't always make sense or be easy to read. If your competitor's is, they'll likely get the click instead of you. It's almost like writing an ad for every page of your website; creating the message, capturing the attention of a searcher, and urging them to take an action.
Simple Steps in Writing Good Meta Descriptions
- Keep them fairly short. Anything greater than ~150 characters (~115 characters on mobile) will be cut off and be replaced with an ellipses (...). This may cause the most important part of the description to be cut off.
- Use languages that urges an action such as 'learn', 'get', 'discover', etc.
- Don't be sneaky. Your description should accurately reflect what the website page is about and what the search should expect to get when clicking the result.
- A description should be well written not a bunch of jumbled together words. Proper spelling, grammar and punctuation is important.
- Include the keyword you are attempting to rank for respective to each page. Again, don't stuff keywords, but if you do end up ranking for your target keyword you'll be more likely to get a click if that keyword exists in the description of the page as the searcher will see it as being relevant.
There you have it. Meta Descriptions won't move you up in search results but they can make all the difference in improving the traffic to your website!