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Meta Description

Last updated: October 29, 2021

A meta description summarizes the content (meta-information) that is displayed in search engine results and on social media platforms. The description intends to help visitors understand what is behind the search result.

The meta description should currently have a maximum length of 150-160 characters, including spaces to ensure that Google does not automatically shorten it. In addition, the meta description must contain the main keyword. If this is not the case, Google will compile a description itself.

The Meta Description is not a ranking factor on Google (Google says…), but it plays a crucial role in the page's click-through rate in the search results.


Definition | What is a Meta Description?

Other names: SEO Description, Meta Description Tag Length: around 55-155 characters Wording: keyword-optimized, relevant, meaningful, attractive, unique, Goal: We want to achieve the highest click-through rate possible without promising things that the page behind it can't provide. Benefit: It's a teaser for the content, not the content itself. Avoid: stuffing keywords, a description without the main keyword, too many special characters. Tools: Rank Math SEO Tool, Google Search Console, Yoast SEO, Sistrix SERP Snippet Generator


The perfect Meta Description

As mentioned above, the Meta Description is a teaser for the actual page. Therefore, although it is part of the On-Page optimization, it has no direct influence on the ranking in Google compared to the Meta Title (Google says).

In addition to the appropriate length, various marketing tricks helps to convert better. An approach according to the AIDA principle is a good idea:

A = Attention
I = Interest
D = Desire
A = Action (including Call To Action)

Following this scheme, you will succeed in writing the ideal teaser for your page. And don't be shy: You can invite the searcher to visit your page by “click here” etc., as a call-to-action.

example of a meta description in Google SERP

If in a suitable position, the meta description can be visually enhanced by ASCII special characters such as checkmarks or hearts.
Expert tip
Double quotation marks should be avoided at all costs, as Google cuts off at this point.
Keyword usage

The meta description of a page should use the keywords the page should rank. It should also describe what the user can expect from the page.

The keyword you are looking for will be bolded in the meta description. In our case it was SEO Service Agency.

If the keyword you are looking for is not in the meta description, Google will usually create a snippet itself based on your content.


Length of the meta-description

Search Engines, and especially Google is quite experimental when it comes to the length of the meta description. While up to 270 characters were possible last time, the search engine has now lowered the limit again so that it stops at around 160 characters.
What is the ideal length for a meta description?
The ideal length for a meta description is between 140 and 155 characters.

Of course, the character quota should be used as much as possible and contain everything necessary to promote content. But going beyond the maximum is not a good idea: this way, you risk that the meta description is truncated by dots and thus not displayed in its entirety. Also, don't forget that showing the publication date also reduces the available character count.

5 Steps to get the perfect Meta Description:


Importance of the Meta Description

Why go to all that (manageable) effort again to craft meta descriptions?

Since 2009, the meta description is no longer a direct ranking factor, as Google announced. However, this does not make the descriptive texts less critical. On the contrary, meta descriptions are and remain a teaser for the page and are decisive for how high the click through rate is.

User Experience

The first contact users have with a website is through the Google Snippet, i.e., Title-Tag, Meta-Description, and URL. And thus, these elements become an all-important factor: Do users select your website from the search results, or do they continue scrolling? For this reason, the Google Snippet should be seen as part of content marketing and not “quick-fill”.

Social media

The meta description comes into play as a short description when content is shared. If users don't click on your page in the search results, Google recognizes that and will decrease your raning.

If Google does not use your meta description

Especially for long-tail keywords, Google usually generates the meta description itself and uses paraphrasing. Mainly this is triggered by the fact that the specific keyword does not appear in the 155 characters, and Google thinks that a more relevant text would be more helpful for the users.

If there is no meta description, social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so on mainly select the beginning of a text to preview a shared article. So it would be best if you also kept that in mind.

Tools to optimize your Meta Description

We use these tools for optimizing the meta description in our Online Marketing agency every day:

Sistrix – SERP Snippet Generator
Rank Math SEO Tool
Yoast SEO plugin
Saney Google SERP Features icons

Meta-Description-Optimization with Rank Math

The Rank Math plugin presents a preview of the corresponding snippet as it will appear on Google and is available for WordPress. The plugin gives you recommendations on length, use of focus and secondary keywords, and shows you how your SEO snippet might look on mobile and on desktop.

Meta Description Optimization with Sistrix SERP tool

Sistrix's Snippet Generator also assists with Meta Description optimization and provides a preview. You can also display additional information that influences the length of a snippet (date, rich snippets). In addition, the software provides a selection of special characters that are actually displayed in Google search results. Unfortunately, Google does not accept all special characters.

We prefer this Sistrix SERP software for meta description optimization because it feels like it's constantly being updated and offers options for beginners and advanced search engine optimizers.

Evaluations with Google Search Console

You can check the performance of your meta description in the performance report in Google Search Console. There you will find the following data:

  • Impressions
  • Clicks
  • click rate
  • average position

With the browser extension Keywords Everywhere, you get even more information about individual search terms provided, so you have everything in view.

This includes:

  • Search volume
  • CPC
  • Competition on Google Ads

Once you've revised your meta description, I would “request indexing” for that particular URL. This way, we make sure that Google takes over our update as soon as possible. Then it's a matter of waiting until the keyword that was optimized for has received at least a thousand impressions, according to Google Search Console. Only then should you decide whether the optimization of the meta description was a success in terms of click-through rate or whether a further revision is necessary.

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