Welcome to the second in my SEO Basics series. You can read all about keywords here, in fact, go and do that right now, otherwise this post won’t make much sense. OK?
You can also learn about alt text, and tackle title tags.
Today I’m talking meta descriptions – another key tool to help boost your SEO.
What is a meta description?
The meta description is the short snippet you see in the search engine results page (SERP).
The meta description gives you a quick insight into what’s on the page and, hopefully, motivates you to click through. It’s a great place to get your keywords in, but there’s a few things you need to know to get the best results.
The meta description circled above is actually not a great example – there are no keywords included and it’s too long so some text has been cut off.
How long should a meta description be?
Like any writing, they should be as long as they need to be to convey the necessary information.
Having said that, Google usually truncates to around 160 characters, so try to keep the vital info at the beginning (and consider leaving the non-vital info out altogether!).
What should a meta description include?
This depends on the page, and the user intent (which, once you’ve done your keyword research, you’ll be aware of and will have linked to the content).
The meta description for your blog post on rare garden gnomes might read:
“Gary Jones, the UK’s esteemed garden gnome historian, discusses the world’s rarest specimen and delves into its fascinating history”
Whereas the meta description for your contact page could be:
“Contact Gnomes ‘R’ Us on 07111111111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for answers on all your garden gnome queries”
People searching for your contact details want to get in touch, so make it easy for them! But people searching for info on rare gnomes will want to be enticed into reading the whole post.
Once again, a note on keyword stuffing
Don’t do it.
The meta description is one of the first things a searcher will see if you are ranking in Google, and “garden gnomes, buy garden gnomes online, UK gnome specialist” is not going to make them want to visit your site.
Also, Google’s not stupid and it can see through keyword stuffing in a heart beat.
As always with SEO, write great content that’s for humans, while making it easy for Google to show them.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on SEO in general, this post in particular, or your favourite garden gnome supplier. So leave me a comment below or: