Meta descriptions are used to describe the contents of a page. And are often displayed in search results by search engines.
The meta description is the black copy in search results underneath the page title and URL. (See image to left)
In Google, meta descriptions no longer have any SEO benefit. As they were abused when people rammed them full of keywords.
Yahoo and Bing however give a small amount of weight to meta descriptions. Though if you ram it with keywords they will penalise you.
It’s worth remembering that search engines won’t always use your meta descriptions. If they feel there is a piece of copy on your website that is more relevant to the users search terms than your meta description, they will use that instead.
Is it worth using meta descriptions then?
You can see why people would ask this question. Adding meta descriptions can be time intensive, especially if you have a lot of pages.
The best way to think about meta descriptions is as an advert. It will be one of the first things users see in search results. You need to convince people to click through to your page and not your competitors.
Meta descriptions best practice
Ideally your meta descriptions should be around 155 characters long. If it’s much longer you might find the end is cut of in search results as 155 is around the maximum they can show.
As we said earlier, the best way to think about meta descriptions is to imagine they’re an advert. So you need to write some short, interesting and compelling copy which encourages people to click through.
Your meta descriptions need to stand out from competitors and tell them why they should go to your website and not anyone else’s.
Don’t be tempted to use the same meta description for every page. If you’re going to use them, make sure they are unique to each page.
How do I add meta descriptions
How you’ll add meta descriptions depends on how you edit your website.
If your website is hard coded you need to put the following code between the <head></head> tags.
<meta name=”description” content=”this is where your meta description goes.”>
If your website has a CMS system, like Concrete5, there will be a place for you to add a meta description.
For example in Concrete5 you hover over ‘edit’ and select ‘Properties’. Under the ‘Custom Attributes’ tab you can see the option to add a meta description in the left menu. You then type your copy into the meta description box and press ‘Save’.
If your website is an ecommerce website there may be an option for you to add a meta description to each product where you edit the products information.
Some of our clients use Magento and when you edit a product, there is a ‘meta description’ tab in the menu on the left hand side. Which allows you to add a meta description.
If done right meta descriptions should help to pull more people into your website. Giving you more opportunities to sell your products or services.
Are you looking to do more with your companies SEO? Why not contact one of our friendly team today to see how we could help, and in the meantime, you can read more about SEO in our blogs.