The importance of meta descriptions are sometimes overlooked by many website contributors. Apart from aiding in search engine marketing, they are also important for click through rates and are considered a great way to market your website through search results. Think of a meta description as a ‘marketing snippet’, showing a visitor what your website represents, it will encourage searchers to click on your website when displayed on a search result page.
This is a simple guide to meta descriptions, how to implement them and tips on writing them.
What is a meta description?
It is an HTML attribute sometimes that allows you to show google a summary or excerpt for a specific page or post in your WordPress site. Or.. it is the little blurb you see during search results under the website url. See the example below.
Why you should use meta descriptions?
Meta descriptions are meant for your searchers to read a snippet summarising what your page of content is about. And it helps them understand what they are going to get by visiting your website. The more descriptive and concise the snippet, the higher likelihood of getting them to visit. Accuracy and relevance of the description will help improve your click through rates.
Meta descriptions are also very useful when the website url is being shared, i.e. through social media networks like Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter. Some of these platforms will pull the meta description or a couple of sentences as part of the post and display it in the share.
Use Keywords and Search terms
Using keywords in the beginning of your meta descriptions is important. When writing a meta description, keep it short and concise. Consider what the searcher would use to search when looking for your product or service.
When a searcher enters their terms in the search box, using the term in the above screenshot as an example. You can see the words WordPress and SEO in bold. This is the result of using keywords in your meta descriptions. It’s understood that Google and other search engines don’t pay attention to the keywords in the meta description as a ranking signal, however it’s useful to have them there for the benefit of searchers.
What happens if I don’t write one?
In the event you have forgotten to write a meta description Google and other search engines generally will just use the first section of text that they find on your website. Usually it’s not punchy and concise. A lot opportunity.
How to implement in WordPress
We use and recommend the plugin WordPress SEO by Yoast. Specifically built for WordPress it allows you to optimise your meta descriptions with a few easy steps.
In the screenshot below, it shows the title and the meta description being added to a blog post.
The colour indicator represents parts you may have missed and helps with suggestions on whether text is long enough for optimisation and relevant to content on the page.
Once you have done this and saved the draft, it automatically uses the information inserted in the corresponding fields for Google search as well as pulls the information for any social shares.
We hope you have found this information helpful and please do not hesitate to share or comment if you have any questions or suggestions to add.