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How to Write the Perfect Meta Description

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Find out how to write meta descriptions that will support your SEO and get improved click-throughs to your website.  

What is this Meta Description?

The meta description is an HTML tag that is hidden from view which allows you to write a description of a web page. A long time ago they used to help with your search engine ranking (along with the meta keywords tag) but not any more. If you click 'view source' on any web page you'll probably see <meta name='description' content='...'> in the code near the top of the page. That's the meta description.

What Are They Used For?

Depending on the search query Google will sometimes show the meta description tag in the snippets of the search engine results.  A well written meta description won't lift you higher up the search engine rankings, but it will help to bring more clicks your way.

The image below shows the Google results for a search for 'edward robertson web design'. You can see the meta description from our home page is shown under the page title and the URL:

Best Practices

Follow these rules all the way to meta description success:

  • Be brief Keep your meta description to one or two sentences, and less than 140 characters.  Otherwise your lovingly crafted text will get cut off.
  • Be accurate Make sure the meta description is a good summary of your web page. If you misrepresent what people will find when they click through to your website then your bounce rate will skyrocket.
  • Be interesting Try to craft your meta descriptions so that they are easy to read and interesting to people.
  • Be unique Each page on your website should have a unique meta description. Never use the same meta description for every page on your website.
  • Use a call-to-action Give searchers a reason to click to your website, use active verbs and drum up their interest
  • Include keywords Make sure your meta description includes the keyword you hope to be found for, as google can make this appear bold, which makes your listing stand out a little (as you can see in the image above).
  • No code The meta description should be a code free zone.  Don't put any HTML or even any special characters (such as © or ®) into the meta description - it can go a bit squiffy (and not in a good way) in the search engine results.

You should be able to manage your meta descriptions in your website content management system.  If you can't, or if you want any more SEO help please get in touch.

google, seo, web design,

By Graham Miller (Google+), Director, Edward Robertson Limited

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