We are here with the third part of our SEO for Beginners series. We have already highlighted the importance of proper titles, URLs and keywords (tags) in our previous parts. In this part we will take a jump and move to more complex details like the META Description.
META description, often just referred to as META, is a small explanation of the information a page contains. This is used to tell search engines and users what a website is all about and what information can be found on a specific page. In many cases when you search for a website or specific keyword you may also be able to read the META description of a page as it is often visible on search engines as shown in the image.
The use of META description has been criticized by many who argue that there is no need to explain what a page contains with the help of META when the page title and the URL does the same thing. However, most SEO experts believe that it is important because search engines seek a lot of information from META tags and it is important to handle this part properly if you want your website to rank well.
It is not correctly known as to what extent META descriptions help a website. Nevertheless, there is no denying that these are important and are used by almost all successful websites. This is not only due to the fact that these are searched or read by search engines but also because they help improve a website’s CTR (click to ratio) which tells the number of people who click on a specific link keeping in mind the number of times a link is seen.
For example: If a website is about jewelry designing and its link appears on a search engine page the person searching will be in trouble if he or she should or should not click on the link. The person searching for jewelry design does not have this one website to look at as there would be a few other related websites on the same page as well. This is when META descriptions come into play. Say, if the person is looking for a website that offers help in designing ethnic jewelry then he or she can read through the META description to know if a website may have the required information. The META description can be as simple as “jewelry designs available here” or as attractive and detailed as “design your own ethnic jewelry”. The first explanation is very simple and may not attract a user. However, the second one is more attractive because anyone who is looking for ethnic jewelry designs would be attracted towards it.
his example clearly indicates the importance of META descriptions. Well written explanations can certainly bring about a major positive change.
There are some things that one has to remember when writing META descriptions. These are simple descriptions of the content of a page but should not be taken lightly as several rules have to be kept in mind when writing these.
Tips on Writing META Descriptions
- The description should be kept short (150-160 characters) as search engines do not display a lot of words in this space. Remember, the emphasis is on characters and not words.
- Try to use keywords properly in META descriptions so that search engines find it easily. For example: have “ethnic jewelry” in the first 150-160 characters of the description if it is about such jewelry.
- Do not use the same META description for every page and emphasize on writing unique META descriptions even if the information found on each page is different.
- Remember that META description is not required for every page and you may skip it if deemed unnecessary.
- Do not use numeric or alpha-numeric characters in META description as such a step may cause crawlers to cut it off.
How to Write Meta Descriptions
Now that you know the importance of META descriptions it is time to write one for your website so that you can receive more and more traffic from search engines. Firstly, remember to keep in mind the points mentioned above when writing META descriptions so that you can get the desired results.
If you are using HTML to design your website then you can enter the below given code in your HTML page (usually on the top after the page). The code will look like this:
<meta name”description” content=”Here is a description of the applicable page”>
Replace the description with what you want to write so that each page has a unique description. Due to software and tools like forums it is easy to set META descriptions as one does not need to have any knowledge of HTML and other such languages.
Most publishing and web designing software give you the option to simply type the META description which they encode properly and put wherever it suits. If you are also using such software then it is best to let it do the job so that there are no chances of errors.
META description is like the snippet of a page. It can even be a sentence extracted from the main content. As long as the length is correct and the META is relevant and keyword enriched it will do the task. Additionally, it should be remembered that you will not instantly get the results as it may take a little while for the changes to be incorporated completely by search engines.
This is it for now, watch out this space for more in this series as there is a lot left to discuss about search engine optimization.
We will be back soon with Part 4 of this series.
Go back to SEO-Part 2
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