The meta description defines the description of a page in just one or two sentences and is shown in search engine result pages. It’s a piece of HTML code placed in the header of a Web page. It’s a major driver behind your website’s performance in search engine result pages.
Keep the following things in mind when writing meta descriptions:
- Keep its length between 430 pixels and 920 pixels (± 70 and 155 characters, respectively).
- Make sure the meta description is easy to read and contains relevant keywords.
- Prevent duplicate content issues by making the meta description unique for every indexable page.
Table of Contents
- Do meta descriptions affect SEO?
- Do meta descriptions impact ranking?
- Why are meta descriptions important?
- Should every page on your website have a unique meta description?
- What is the ideal meta description length, according to Google?
- What is the ideal meta description length, according to Bing?
- What is the ideal meta description length, according to Yahoo?
- Why is Google rewriting my meta descriptions?
- How do you write a good meta description?
Do meta descriptions affect SEO?
While meta descriptions do not directly affect search engine optimization (SEO), they are still crucial to an overall SEO strategy. This is because they are often the first thing potential visitors will see when your page appears in search results and can impact your website’s click-through rate (CTR). In other words, well-written meta descriptions can entice users to click on your page over others, improving the visibility and traffic to your website.
Do meta descriptions impact ranking?
Meta descriptions do not directly affect the ranking of a webpage for a specific keyword, but that does not mean they are not important for SEO. They are a fundamental aspect of an overall SEO strategy and should be considered as part of a holistic approach. This includes aspects such as click-through rates and user experience, which are indirectly related to meta descriptions.
A well-written and relevant meta description can increase click-through rate, ultimately leading to more traffic and visibility for your website. It is important to ensure that your meta descriptions are detailed and accurate, as a poorly written or irrelevant description can discourage users from clicking on your website.
Why are meta descriptions important?
While meta descriptions do not directly influence search engine rankings, they are still important to SEO. This is because they provide potential customers with a clear understanding of your website or page. On a search engine results page (SERP), several options are typically shown to searchers, so meta descriptions allow them to better understand what each webpage offers before clicking on it.
This means that a well-written meta description can entice users to visit your site, increasing traffic and potential customers.
Should every page on your website have a unique meta description?
It is essential to have a unique meta description for every webpage on your website. Each webpage should have unique content and a unique meta description that accurately reflects that content. Additionally, Google has stated that identical or similar descriptions on multiple site pages are not helpful when those pages appear in web results.
Even if Google auto-generates a snippet for a page, it is still good practice to ensure that each page has a unique, compelling description.
What is the ideal meta description length, according to Google?
When it comes to optimizing meta descriptions for Google, it’s important to take into account the maximum width of a listing in Google’s SERPs, which is 600 pixels. The meta description takes up four lines in the search engine listing, so in theory, you have 2,400 pixels of space. However, considering the bolding of keywords, the fact that Google rarely uses all 2,400 pixels, and some margin of error, it is advisable to stick to a maximum length of 920 pixels, which generally translates to 155 characters.
It’s also important to ensure that your meta descriptions aren’t too short. If they are, Google may generate its own description. To prevent this, ensure your meta description tag is at least 70 characters or 430 pixels long.
In summary, the meta description length for Google is:
- Maximum amount: 155 characters or 920 pixels
- Minimum amount: 70 characters or 430 pixels
Please note that Google’s tablet and mobile versions have a greater maximum width for the meta description. However, it’s not possible to set specific meta descriptions for different devices. Therefore, we recommend sticking to the maximum width for the desktop to ensure that the meta description adheres to Google’s constraints as much as possible.
Bing and Yahoo do not have different rules per device regarding the maximum length of the meta description.
What is the ideal meta description length, according to Bing?
Bing’s official recommendation is to use a maximum of 160 characters in meta descriptions. However, research has shown that descriptions with 160 or more characters may be cut off in Bing, so it is advisable to keep it to a maximum of 155 characters for optimal results on the Bing search engine.
Regarding the minimum number of characters, we recommend using at least 70 characters to ensure that your description is informative and complete.
What is the ideal meta description length, according to Yahoo?
Yahoo does not provide specific guidelines for the minimum and maximum length of meta descriptions in their help section. However, it seems that the Yahoo SERP allows for a maximum width of 553 pixels. This roughly translates to 160 characters. However, in practice, it seems that meta descriptions with more than 150 characters are often truncated. Therefore, we advise sticking to a maximum of 150 characters for optimal results on Yahoo’s search engine.
Regarding the minimum number of characters, we recommend using at least 70 to ensure your description is informative and complete.
Why is Google rewriting my meta descriptions?
Google may sometimes rewrite the meta descriptions that you have written for your webpage. This can happen for a variety of reasons. One possibility is that the description you have provided does not accurately reflect the content of the webpage, so Google uses relevant text from the page itself instead.
Another reason could be that Google wants to match the searcher’s intent, and a different snippet may better align with that intent. This can result in different descriptions being shown for different queries. In some cases, the description that appears on the SERP may be a few sentences or words from various parts of the page.
How do you write a good meta description?
Creating an effective meta-description can be a process of trial and error. Here are some best practices to keep in mind as you develop your meta descriptions:
- Keep it within the ideal length. A good rule of thumb is to aim for 120-158 characters. Descriptions that are too long may be truncated on the SERPs, while those that are too short may not provide enough information.
- Make it unique and relevant. Each page on your website should have its own meta description that accurately reflects the content on that page.
- Use active voice and calls to action. This can make your descriptions more dynamic and help users understand the value of the content on the page.
- Incorporate keywords (when appropriate). While it is important to avoid keyword stuffing, you should include relevant keywords in your descriptions. Remember that Google will bold the words in the description that match the user’s query, which can improve the click-through rate (CTR).
- Ensure that the description reflects the page. Google will not show a meta description that misleads searchers, so ensure your description accurately reflects the page’s content.
By following these best practices, you can increase the chances of your meta descriptions being effective and driving more traffic to your website.