Earlier this month, we outlined 6 Most Important SEO Tips for Images. To further help you in your SEO drive, we’ll talk about SEO for meta descriptions starting with why you need to optimize meta descriptions.
Note: All that we’ll outline here is based on research and our own experience.
First what are meta descriptions?
A meta description is an HTML tag in the header of your web page that helps search engines understand your page’s contents. Essentially, a meta description is a summary (about 155 characters long) of your page that appears in search results.
What a meta description looks like in search results
The image below shows Google search results for “LinkedIn ad credit“. The meta description from the first result (LinkedIn) is the highlighted area.
Why you need to optimize meta descriptions – what a meta description looks like
Why do you need meta descriptions?
You need meta descriptions to help search engines and visitors understand the content of your page.
Now, here’s why you need to optimize meta descriptions?
To improve your page’s click through rate
An optimized meta description increases your page’s click through rate for the keyword/phrase you are targeting. Here’s how; if your page is targeting a particular keyword/phrase e.g. “$25 blockchain giveaway”, you need to optimize your meta description to suit this key word so anyone searching for “$25 blockchain giveaway” will be captivated enough by your meta description to click-through to your site from the SERP.
To buttress this point, if your meta description contains the keyword searched for, search engines will most likely show it in SERP (see image below, the search query/key phrase in this example was “$25 blockchain giveaway”). See how this key phrase is shown in bold in the meta description.
Why you need to optimize meta descriptions – “$25 blockchain giveaway”
In the image above, the search query (“$25 blockchain giveaway”) is shown in bold in the meta description, even though it’s scattered in different parts of the snippet.
Therefore, a meta description optimized for $25 blockchain giveaway will most likely be displayed in SERP for $25 blockchain giveaway because it contains the key phrase (“$25 blockchain giveaway”) and if this meta description is well crafted, it will yield a higher click-through rate than a random snippet gotten from just any part of your page.
Simply put, more people will likely click on your page in SERP for a keyword/key phrase if your meta description is optimized for it.
Optimizing your meta description for your target keyword will therefore attract more traffic to your site and make search engines rank you higher for your valuable content.
To reduce your page’s bounce rates and improve interaction with your site
An optimized meta description will prevent searchers from being “mislead” to your site. If you don’t include an optimized meta description in your page, Google will randomly pick any part of your page’s content to display in SERP.
While this might bring visitors to your site, they won’t remain there for long if your page’s content isn’t what they need e.g. if their search query was just randomly mentioned somewhere on your page and Google picked this part to display. Ever experienced this? Can be annoying right? When you visit a page because Google “misled” you there, what do you do, you go back to the search page as quickly as you can.
Although Google claims that bounce rate is not used to determine ranking, several experiments have suggested the opposite. How site visitors interact with your site affects your search engine ranking! So, better to have an optimized meta description that truly reflects what you have on your page than a random meta description that sends visitors away from your site as soon as they discover that they’ve been “mislead”.
Now that you’ve seen why you need to optimize meta descriptions, in a subsequent post we’ll outline the most important SEO tips for meta descriptions in 2019.