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The meta description tag is an HTML tag that appears in Google search results below the title tag. It is a short description of 140 to 160 characters that summarises the content of a web page. This meta description tag is found in the header of an HTML document as follows:
< meta name=”description” content=”description of the page in about 300 characters.” >.
The content of the meta description does not appear directly on the site but in the HTML source code. You can quickly check the presence of a meta description by right-clicking on a web page and then displaying the source code. You can also use the Ctrl+U command to display the source code.
If the content of this tag is not filled in when a page is created, a portion of the page’s content is displayed in the snippets. To take full advantage of meta description tags, it is therefore important to optimise them in order to boost your natural traffic.
Why should you optimise your meta descriptions?
The meta description is displayed in the SERP with your title and URL. It is therefore the first impression that Google and the user will have of your page, hence its importance for your SEO. Indeed, inserting a strategic keyword from the lexical field of your content in your meta description allows you to send a signal of relevance to Google, and therefore to improve your positioning. However, be careful not to stuff keywords into your meta description in order to remain natural.
In addition, the meta description tag is an element to be worked on thoroughly to attract Internet users to your site. The objective is to take care of its content with strategic keywords to encourage Internet users to go to your site rather than those of your competitors. So take the opportunity to sell your site with a catchy meta description. You can thereby increase your click-through rate and boost your natural SEO.
How to make a good meta description?
Attracting the reader's attention
The primary objective of a meta description tag is to increase your click-through rate to boost your site’s traffic. To do this, you need to provide an attractive and relevant meta description. By writing a catchy summary with the right keywords, you will have a better chance of attracting users to your site. The winning method is to use a call to action and an active voice. To entice users to click, there is nothing like a question or phrases that drive action: discover, book now, buy, etc. and numbers: “6 Tips to improve your SEO” You must highlight in a few words the added value you offer to users. Why is your content better than that of your competitors?
Integrate strategic keywords
In addition to the previous point, it is important to include strategic keywords in your description. Depending on the user’s query, Google highlights words in bold in your meta description, which makes the text more visible to the user. You should therefore carefully integrate the keywords most likely to be searched for by Internet users. Similarly, by using strategic phrases in your description, you send a positive signal to Google.
Do not exceed the character limit
To avoid your meta descriptions being cut off on Google, it is advisable to keep to a maximum size of 160 characters. Although this size may vary according to algorithm updates, you can stick to this size to ensure that your meta description is displayed correctly. The difficulty in writing a meta description lies in the fact that you have to create a catchy text, likely to generate traffic, while keeping to a very limited number of characters.
Match the meta description with the content on your page
Google ranks pages in the search results according to the relevance of the content provided to the associated search. If the search engine judges your meta description to be unrelated to the content of the associated page, then it may penalise you by lowering your ranking in the SERP.
Don't oversell the content of your pages
Attracting the reader to your site is a first step. But, in order to encourage them to stay on your site and browse its content, it is important not to oversell your page. The meta description should give a taste of the content the reader will find on the page. It is not a question of false advertising but rather of providing a relevant and realistic summary.
Write unique meta descriptions
Each meta description on a site must be unique to be relevant. Google is not fond of duplicate content, even for meta description tags. To please Google, it is better to favour unique and original descriptions.
How to improve a meta description?
Tools to use to optimise your meta descriptions
All your meta descriptions are complete and optimised on your site, but the click-through rate is not increasing? Use SEO tools to analyse the flaws in your meta descriptions, and optimise them.
Google provides a tool to rework your meta descriptions: the Search Console. This tool allows you to know the rate of impressions and clicks of your pages. By analysing the pages with low click-through rates, you can then identify those that need to be reworked with more relevant keywords.
You can also use Semrush’s On-Page SEO Checker project tool to optimise your meta descriptions. This tool checks that your title tag and its associated meta description include a keyword, and suggests one if they do not.
Finally, the Portent tool is also useful for carrying out an optimisation strategy for your meta descriptions. This tool is a SERP preview generator that allows you to enter your title tag and meta description to see how your page will appear in the search results. Portent also allows you to monitor the number of characters in your meta description, and to test which keywords will appear in bold in your description.
You can also perform an analysis of your competitors to identify their SEO strategy and the content of their meta descriptions. This may give you some ideas for improving your meta description tags.
Some optimisation tips
In addition to these tools and methods, here are a few things to keep in mind and to respect when optimising your meta descriptions:
- Do not exceed the length of 2 sentences for your meta description (140 to 160 characters)
- Include the main keyword of your associated page
- Include a call to action if the subject is appropriate
- Do not duplicate your meta descriptions
- Write meaningful meta descriptions that are consistent with your content
Using multiple meta descriptions for a single page
Most pages have only one meta description. However, in some cases, multiple meta descriptions are deliberately used as part of a search engine optimisation strategy. This allows search engines to choose which meta description to display, and thus to match the user’s search perfectly.
What is the point of multiple meta descriptions?
This concept of multiple meta descriptions has developed considerably recently. Indeed, the same page can answer several different requests on the same theme. For example, this article can just as easily answer the query “what is a meta description” as “how to optimise a meta description”. Thus, offering the search engine several meta descriptions to display allows Google to display the one most adapted to the user’s query, and thus to generate more clicks.
However, you should be wary of this method. There is no guarantee that Google will display the correct meta description. So unless you are deliberately trying to influence the results displayed by search engines, it is not advisable to use these multiple meta descriptions.
How to add multiple meta descriptions to your pages?
The meta description of a page is found in its HTML code, under the title tag. So, if you want to add several meta descriptions, it is essential that you have access to this code, and that you can modify it. You can then simply add another meta description under the first one.
Make sure that each of your meta descriptions on the same page is positioned on the main keyword of the associated query.
How to make a meta description on WordPress?
If you are using WordPress for your site, you will have no trouble completing your title and meta description tags. To make it easier, download the Yoast SEO extension. When you create your pages, you will only need to fill in the corresponding fields on WordPress. This plugin also provides you with indicators to improve your SEO, including the length of your title and meta description tags.
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