Purpose of a Meta DescriptionThe meta description is an often misunderstood piece of the digital marketing puzzle. You know it as that snippet of text which is displayed below the page title in search engine results, and with links shared on social media sites. Think of it as a preview of coming attractions. The true purpose of a meta description is to entice users to click through to a page. ; Meta descriptions should provide users with content to let them know a little bit more about the page and help them decide if it is what they are looking for.

The truth is meta descriptions do not have a pure SEO value or effect on search engine rankings. ;If a page does not have a meta description the search engine will choose content from the page to display as the snippet of content. This gives the search engine control over how your brand is portrayed. By creating your own meta description, you control the branding of your content. ;The description never appears on the website itself, only in the code.

Tips for writing effective meta descriptions

  • Length Ð Use a maximum of 145 characters. If your meta description is longer than 145 characters it may get cut off by both search engines and social media sites.

  • Specific and Meaningful - Your meta description should be concise and specific, telling the user exactly what your page is offering. The description should read as a meaningful call to action, enticing users to read further.

  • Keywords Ð Keywords are important in meta descriptions, but keyword stuffing should be avoided. Use keywords that relate specifically to the page and make sure they flow well within the description. Terms that are being searched will be highlighted in bold text in the meta descriptions on the search engine results page. You want these keywords to help you stand out from your competitors.

  • Uniqueness Ð Each page on your site should have a unique meta description. If multiple pages have the same meta description then your goal of enticing the reader to click ahead is not being realized. If you have several similar pages then you should create a formula in which slight, yet relevant changes can be made to highlight the page differences.

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A good movie trailer will make you want to see the film by teasing you with some information about the movie, but won 't give too much away. That 's the same secret to writing a meta description.

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Carolyn Bowers
By Carolyn Bowers

A full-time Atlanta Braves fan, and the Digital Marketing Analyst at CommonPlaces. She enjoys spending time with her family and pets, and has a goal to attend a game at every Major League Baseball park before the age of 40.

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