Do Meta Descriptions help SEO?


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There have been differing opinions over the years about whether or not meta descriptions help SEO performance on your website. Some argue SEO is a vital element to the User Experience (UX) of the search engine as it displays a quick snippet that allows users to understand what your page is about before clicking it. Others argue meta descriptions have become an increasingly less important factor when boosting your SEO performance. This prompts the question, “should we still use meta descriptions?” and do meta descriptions really help your SEO efforts?” 

What is a meta description?

A meta description is a piece of HTML that provides a brief synopsis of what is on the web page. The page meta description tag is displayed as part of the search snippet in the SERP (search engine results page). The sole purpose of a meta description is to give the user a brief idea of what sort of content exists on the page and its relevance to the user’s initial search query.

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Are meta descriptions still important?

Way back in 2009, Google officially released a statement confirming it no longer takes into account the  keyword usage within the meta description when optimising search rankings. However, let’s look at it a different way. The meta description snippet is visually prominent in the SERP.

Yoast SEO best practice suggests a good meta description should be between 50-160 characters in length. Anything over this length will be cut off in the SERP results. Treat your meta description as a brief insight into what your page is about, this makes it a great opportunity for you to draw in the user to click through to your website in order to find the answer to their original search query.

Click Through Rate (CTR) vs SEO

A good meta description has a significant purpose, which is to entice users to click through to your webpage. The more people clicking through to your page, the more data is collected by Google. If your page has a high CTR Google begins to deem your page as a high quality result for the given search query. The reality is, a high CTR over time does lead to a  boost in SEO performance. So a good meta description really does help your overall SEO.

How to write a great meta description 

Provide a sneak peak into your landing page

Writing a good meta description is simple. Your main purpose is to provide an accurate summary of what your content is about on the landing page, and relate it to the user’s search query.

Inspire curiosity 

What separates a good meta description from a bad one is down to your ability to create curiosity within your meta description. Curiosity encourages the user to click your link in order to find out more. This is a great tactic that helps boost your page’s CTR.

Use relevant keywords in your meta description 

We all love SEO because it is an effective marketing tool that helps bring in organic traffic. Although Google doesn’t officially register keywords in the meta description when optimising rankings, using keywords relating to the users search query results in these terms being bolded within the meta description to help show your page’s relevance. This entices the user to read your meta description and then to click onto your page.

So, should you use meta descriptions to help with your SEO efforts?

Although Google’s official answer is that meta descriptions have no direct effect on SEO performance, we still believe you should be using meta descriptions throughout your website and investing the time to make sure they are effective. Meta descriptions are very prominent on the SERPS, providing a quick insight into your page’s content. With a bit of love and care it’s clear that a good meta description will increase the click through rate to your page. Over time Google will recognise this and start to rank your page higher for that search term as it deems your page more and more relevant.

Cariad Web Design are not just a leading affordable web design agency. We are fortunate enough to have an amazing in-house SEO team who can start working on getting your website visible. Explore our add-ons and contact us today to discuss your new website requirements.

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