Why the Meta Description Still Matters

Written by Nick Stamoulis

Way back in the early days of the Internet the search engines considered all of the meta information of a website as part of the ranking algorithm. But that led to problems since sneaky webmasters were stuffing the tags with irrelevant keywords designed to generate a lot of traffic. It wasn’t resulting in the best search experience so as time went on, the search engines began paying more attention to the actual content that appeared on the page when determining rank. The story is different these days. Here’s more information:

Meta Descriptions Aren’t a Ranking Factor But They’re Still Important

Today, the meta description may not be a ranking factor to the search engines, but that doesn’t mean that it should be ignored completely. SEO best practice is to conduct keyword research and then implement those keywords into the on page content and meta tags naturally. OK, so if it’s not a ranking factor why should you spend time writing meta descriptions for each page and include keywords?

The search engines may not consider the meta description when ranking a website, but they still use them. When you conduct a search for something, the meta description that you write and include in the code is what shows up underneath the Title on the search results page. If you don’t include this description, the search engines will make one up for you. Sometimes they’ll pull a random passage from the page and other times they might just include the first few sentences of text on the page. There’s no guarantee that either option accurately represents the page as a whole. The meta description is written for the search engine users, the actual human beings that are deciding whether or not to visit your website.

Meta Descriptions Should Describe What the Page is About

Business or Corporate Strategy ConceptThink of the meta description as your sales pitch for the page. A searcher wants to click on the web page that is most relevant to their needs to save time and aggravation. If you create a compelling meta description a search engine user will be more likely to click on your page.

When writing meta descriptions, keep in mind that there is only so much space on the SERP for the meta description, so keep it to 150 characters (including spaces) or less to avoid the search engine cutting off your message. When the searcher can see the whole description, it makes it easier for them to understand what’s on the page than if the description is cut off. Without the full description, it becomes more of a guessing game to the searcher. Search engine users want answers quickly and seeing a cut off description can be frustrating.

Make the Meta Description Clean, Concise, and Descriptive 

Besides, when the full description is there the search result is much cleaner and professional looking. If you are wondering why you need to include keywords if the search engines aren’t paying attention to the meta description for ranking, it’s because the search engine user will still notice them. The keyword or keyword phrase that they use to search will be bolded on a search engine results page. If what they are looking for appears bolded once or more within the description, it may be more likely to catch their eye, generating a click through and potentially new business from your target audience members.

The bottom line is- don’t be lazy! The meta description does matter and is an important part of an SEO strategy. For every page of content, write a 150 character or less synopsis of the page as the meta description tag. Include a targeted keyword or two if it makes sense, but never stuff them in just for the sake of it. It’s obvious and can be a big turn off.

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