There’s a lot of confusion about the SEO meta description – a lot.
Before I dive in, let’s clear one thing up right now. The meta description matters.
If you’re not familiar with it, the meta description is the short sentence or two that you see underneath the title of your page in search results.
Is it necessary to mess with? Will it help you rank higher on search engines? Do you need to put your keywords into it? Does it have to be a certain number of characters?
These are the things that bog down the minds of business owners trying to rank higher on search engines. Here are the quick answers:
- Yes, you need it.
- Yes, it will help you rank higher on search engines, but indirectly (more on that later).
- Yes, keywords in meta descriptions matter.
- Yes, you have to keep it short (like a tweet).
If you haven’t taken a good hard look at your SEO meta descriptions in awhile, now’s the time.
Not sure where to start? Run a search through Moz (note: that’s not an affiliate link and you can get a free 30-day trial if you don’t have one) to find issues on your site. If you don’t have a meta description, or if your description is too long, it’ll point you in the right direction.
Be warned. This is tedious work, but it’s well worth it.
So, How Do SEO Meta Descriptions Help You Rank Online?
Yes, your meta descriptions can help you rank higher on search engines, but not in a direct way.
That means Google doesn’t pay much attention to those descriptions and notice the keywords you include, and then suddenly bump you up the search engine page results (SERPs for us nerdy folk) by including them.
No, they’re not a magic bullet to ranking online, but they are important.
To explain why, we have to get to know our good friend Google a little bit better.
What Google Looks For When Ranking Content Online
For years, Google has said that having quality content is one of the fastest and best ways to get your website to shoot up the SERPs. The robots love great pieces of content that bring value because they want to give what their searchers want to consume – answers.
The higher quality content you have on your website, the more likely Google is to rank you online.
How does a robot read some lines of binary code and determine something’s quality? It doesn’t. It relies on cues from other humans (the searchers) to prove something’s worthwhile. Those cues are clicks and traffic numbers.
Back to the Meta Description
The meta description is often used by searchers when deciding whether or not to click a link. They read these short lines of text and decide whether something’s interesting or not.
Meta descriptions also appear on social media. When you share a link, the meta description sits right below the title giving people a reason to click to read between looking at recipes and gifs of baby goats. It has to be compelling.
Are Your Meta Descriptions Compelling Enough?
If you’re not seeing a lot of clicks, you might not be telling a compelling enough story with your meta descriptions – or, what’s more likely, is with your content.
Are you giving people a reason to click?
Or are you leaving the clicks up to chance by ignoring this fundamental part of content marketing?