Meta Descriptions and How They Affect SEO

Mar 4, 2016 | SEO Insights

In the world of internet marketing, the meta description has long been discussed as one of the basic elements of a website’s SEO. While its significance may have grown or waned throughout the year, it is an indispensable tool for driving traffic to a website, and one of the easiest for even the most casual marketer to effectively use.

What is a Meta Description?

A meta description is a small snippet that is displayed with a website when it appears among search engine results.

Unlike a title tag or URL, the meta description does not directly inform a search engine on what a website is about. Meaning that the search engine does not analyze keywords within the text.

However, it is a valuable tool to draw visitors to your website, and therefore plays a vital role in increasing your website’s traffic. An effective meta description should grab a viewer’s attention and compel them to take a look at your website through effective language that describes exactly what’s on that page and why they should take a look. In this way, meta descriptions can be vital to increasing traffic to your website and lowering your bounce rate, which plays a big role in your SEO marketing efforts.

Writing a Great Meta Description

Meta descriptions are just one piece of the writing process for every page on your website. Making each one carry a big punch is important, and these are some ways to ensure that your meta descriptions stand out:


It’s important to keep your length in mind when writing a meta description, as only the first 155-160 characters will show, depending on the width of the letters. If more text is entered beyond that length, an ellipses (…) will be displayed at the end. Conversely, if your description is too short it could be less appealing to viewers.


Don’t leave your audience guessing. Your visitors should get a taste of exactly what your page is about from the description. Being direct with your text can help develop trust in your audience and also lower your bounce rate from visitors who are taken by surprise.


Your meta description if your chance to tell a potential visitor what they can get from viewing your website. Use action verbs and direct language to highlight the benefit of your website or service. For instance, you can tell your audience what they’ll learn or discover when they click through the link in the SERP.

Meta Description Mistakes

While failing to write a meta description at all is the biggest mistake in regards to their use, there are many common pitfalls that marketers can fall into when crafting descriptions. While including a keyword in your description can be useful in establishing relevance for what a searcher is seeking, this is not the place to worry about placing it at the beginning or cramming it in there. This is the place to sell your audience on following through and clicking to your website, so use the opportunity to really pitch your site while still remaining relevant to what the page offers and succinct. Be careful when using lists, as a meta description that simply features a list of services offered is missing out on a big opportunity to market with your writing.

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