Optimize the meta description for SEO

Meta description is another essential element each SEO newbie or lover should know about. It falls under the on-page optimization stage and comes as a very welcomed addition to the title tag optimization.
Home SEOHow to optimizeMeta Description
What is a meta description?
As its naming suggests, a meta description is an HTML tag which indicates the excerpt of a webpage. The description brings some added value to the title tag, by giving users more information of what they’ll find if they click through our page.
what is a meta description
The code for meta description looks like this:
<meta name=”description” content=”This is an example of a meta description. This will often show up in search results./>
What makes a good meta description?
Similar to the title tag, a meta description has some technical requirements. Google has recently extended the character limit for descriptions. Now, Google will display up to 300 characters of the meta description, compared the previous limit of 160 characters. Besides the characters limit, duplicated meta descriptions won’t bring any good to your website. In other words, here’s what makes a good meta description:
  • Correct length – between 50 and 300 characters (spaces included)
  • Include call-to-action – “read more inside!”, “discover more by reading the article”, etc.
  • Avoid adding double quotation marks – they are used as HTML elements and the description risks to be cut off
  • Ad copy – write your descriptions like a compelling ad copy
  • Good grammar – we all understand that typos happen, but if they are in your title or description, users might not click through
  • Avoid duplicates – don’t use the same description for more than a page! It will confuse users.
Meta description polemics
The actual length of a meta description
Until quite recently we knew Google was showing 160 characters for a meta description. Things got confusing when people noticed that meta descriptions in SERP got visible longer.
There were lots of discussions that surrounded the actual length of meta description.
Now we know it’s 300 characters.

Indexing factor
In 2009, Google announced that they don’t use either meta keywords or meta description as a ranking factor.
While the meta keywords faith was sealed from sure, they did admit that sometimes they use the meta description as reference. This created different opinions and arguments if you should use or not meta description.

Google not showing the meta description
Sometimes Google’s algorithm chooses not to display the meta description that you set, but instead shows a short preview of the article.
This usually happens when they try to match the search query with your page. The algorithm overwrites your meta description because if identifies matching keywords in the search query which could be more appealing for the user. Also, if you haven’t set a meta description for the page, the algorithm will display a short preview from the text.

So, even though the meta description might be shown or not, social media platforms always use it. Pretty much all the social platforms display the meta description in the URL preview, if you don’t have any, the first sentences of the articles will be displayed instead. Which might not attract that many clicks.
Key takeaways
As you probably figured it out, meta descriptions can be a good reason for an SEO debate. Even though there are reasons to completely ignore it, we highly suggest using it. Nothing bad will happened, on the contrary, it can help. So here are the main takeaways you have to know about meta descriptions:
  • keep them under 300 characters
  • write compelling descriptions, similar to ads that will make the users to continue reading
  • don’t overdo it! – don’t add too many calls to action or stuff it with keywordsdon’t include double quotation marks in it
  • don’t use the same description for multiple pages – is misleading for users
  • try using it as often as possible, even though Google might not show it
  • include call-to-actions to encourage people to click through