What is a meta description?

A meta description is a HTML-tag that contains the description of a webpage. It’s main use is to inform a search engine about the contents of the webpage. The search engine will usually show the meta description on the search engine results pages (or SERPs).

Meta descriptions are important to SEO, as a well-written meta description will entice the reader to visit your website. The SEO community is divided on whether they affect the ranking of a webpage. However, effective meta descriptions can provide an enormous boost to the clickrate on the SERP and the amount of visitors to a website.

Without a meta description, the search engine will show a snippet of your webpage’s text. This might be completely irrelevant to the reader.

Best practices for meta descriptions

Head the following best practices when writing meta descriptions:

  • They have to be relevant to the webpage
  • Use an unique meta description for each webpage
  • Include the search keywords you are aiming for. They won’t improve ranking, but they will show in bold and draw the reader’s attention.
  • Add a value proposition. Why should the reader want to visit your webpage?
  • Like in a banner, use a call-to-action. Adding phrases like “Click here to…” will generate more clicks
  • Including special characters (smileys, stars, pointers) in your meta description will make them stand out from the competition!

Meta description technical details

Meta descriptions are placed using a meta tag. The meta tag is usually found in the head of each webpage (between <head> and </head>). To add a meta tag, use the following line of HTML code:

<meta name=”Description” content=”What you want to show in the search results.” / >

If you want a quick check of your meta descriptions, look them up in Google Webmaster Tools. Under “Diagnostics” and “HTML suggestions” you’ll find lists of meta descriptions that are missing, duplicate or short.

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