Meta Description is a snippet of text which shows up on the search results page under the blue website link in every listing. It is one of the elements displayed to help users further understand what the particular page listed is about.
Apart from search engines meta descriptions sometimes appear on social media platforms when someone shares a page.
As a webmaster, you can write a meta description for a page by using the meta description tag in the <head/> section of the page.
<meta name=”description” content=”Write your description of the page here. The same might show up in search results.”>
Importance of having a meta description
Although having keywords in meta description is not a ranking factor for most search engines a well-crafted meta description can influence ranking indirectly. When you use a meta description which is relevant to the page with the right keywords your listing stands out to the user on the search results page.
For instance when you use the right keyword phrase the same appears as bold when the user searches for the keyword. This drives more attention to your listing. Leading to higher click-through rates.
When you use your meta description as an Ad copy for your page it communicates to the user why he should click on your particular page. Meta descriptions which include “free shipping”, “best prices”, “customer reviews” and the like will grab user attention and clicks.
When you craft high-quality meta descriptions your page click through rates in search engines go up. This results in better rankings as Google promotes listing which has better click-through rates.
How to check for pages which do not have a meta description?
To check for all pages which don’t have a meta description you have to have your website verified by Google search Console. Once verified you will get a list of all pages within missing meta descriptions under the HTML improvements section in the search console dashboard.
You have to click on “Short Meta Description” link in order to get a list of all pages on your site which have a meta description which missing or a meta description which is too short.
You can download the list for the convenience of research.
How to write meta descriptions for your site?
Small Sites of under 1000 pages
In this case, you can manually edit the meta description. You can hire a freelancer to get this done but make sure you inform them of the best practices and fundamentals of SEO and keyword optimization.
- Use highly relevant keyword phrases – You might have optimized the page to rank for a particular keyword phrase. Use the same phrase or a close variant in the description so that it catches the eye of the search engine user. Moreover when the searcher uses the keywords mentioned in your description search engines bold the particular keywords leading to better attention to your listings and clicks.
- Short, concise and readable – Meta description text should follow the same writing fundamentals which apply to the web. Refrain from using sophisticated terms and stick to read short sentences.
- Use a call to action – You should end your meta descriptions with a Call To Action. Call to actions like “Buy Now”, “Find Out More”, “Learn More” can entice users to check out your website. Call to actions is that nudge you have to give to users once he has checked out your listing.
- Mention your a Unique Selling Proposition – Your USP gives your user to click on your link and not your competition. If you have the best prices online then say it in your meta description. If you have free shipping on all products mention the same. If you are a Google certified developer agency mention it in the description. Whatever is your business proposition or your competitive advantage is use it in your description so that people take note and check out your website.
- Keep it under 160 characters – Google truncates meta descriptions which are longer than 160 characters. To get the best out of a meta description you have to make sure your page descriptions are lesser than 160 characters. Important details lost in truncation might not communicate the user the real benefits leading to reduced CTRs.
- Keep it unique for each page – Each page on your site should have a meta description which is different from every other page on your site. Your meta description should define what the page is about. You should be wary of other pages which have similar topics and differentiate accordingly.
For large sites of 1000+ pages
If you have a large website then updating meta descriptions for each one of them manually is too tedious and might not be worth the time.
In such cases, you will want to have a list of all page templates on your site and use coded templates which write meta descriptions on to pages when the page is rendered by the bot of the user.
For instance, if you have an online store which sells a range of antique clocks then you will want to differentiate the meta description of the clock using a variable like style and model.
If you are selling superman comics one in hard copy and the other as an eBook then the meta descriptions of each of these pages should have the word “hard copy” and “eBook” as a differentiating factor.
In the below example Practo crafts a unique description for near similar topic pages based on the variable <locality>. The meta description template in the case below goes like this
<Speciality> in <locality>, <city>. Book Doctors Appointment Online, View Fees, User feedbacks, Address and Phone Numbers of <Speciality> in <locality>, <city> | Practo
See the below image that meta description is unique for each page by virtue of locality variable.