Google Shares Tips on Writing Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions may be one of the very basics of SEO, but you’d be surprised how many sites miss the mark. Google recently shared its wisdom on how to write the perfect meta description, which will not only inform users and search engines about the contents of the page, but also drive click-through rates. More information, including examples, can be found on Google’s help document.

Writing Good Meta Descriptions

A good meta description should be concise, neatly summarising the contents of the page. A meta description should also include the main target keyword(s) and a call-to-action to prompt the user to click through.

Google has provided four examples of what they consider to be a strong meta description.

Get everything you need to sew your next garment. Open Monday-Friday 8-5pm, located in the Fashion District.

Within a 155-character limit, this meta description has given the user the opening times, location and what the shop sells.

What Google advises against? Packing in keywords such as supplies, yarn, coloured pencils, sewing machines, threads, bobbins, needles. This is bad practice and won’t secure the top positions.

Upsetting the small town of Whoville, a local elderly man steals everyone’s presents the night before an important event. Stay tuned for live updates on the matter.

This is an example of using a snippet from an article you want to promote online. For news articles, use the meta description as an opportunity to create a headline for SERPs.

On the other hand, a bad meta description could look a little like this…

Local news in Whoville, delivered to your doorstep. Find out what happened today.

Sure, it reads fine, but it’s generic and can be used on any news article – it doesn’t tell a story or entice the user to read more, so you’re unlikely to see an increase in CTR.

Learn how to cook eggs with this complete guide in 1 hour or less. We cover all the methods, including: over-easy, sunny side up, boiled and poached.

The above example summarises the page while providing enough information for the user on what they are searching for, encouraging them to click through and learn more.

This version, however, is regarded as a poor meta description…

Eggs are a source of joy in everyone’s life. When I was a small child, I remember picking eggs from the hen house and bringing them to the kitchen. Those were the days.

It doesn’t provide the user with the relevant information that this page is about cooking eggs – you’re more likely to assume it’s someone writing an ode to eggs

Self-sharpening mechanical pencil that autocorrects your penmanship. Included 2B auto-replenishing lead. Available in both Vintage Pink and Schoolbus Yellow. Over 50+ pencils, get free shipping.

This meta description is a detailed summary of the page and informs users that self-sharpening pencils are available, encouraging them to click through to make a purchase.

A meta description that just said Mechanical pencil, however, would not do the trick. It’s way too short and doesn’t give enough information to the user about the page.

Other Meta Description Tips to Consider

As well as Google’s meta description tips, here are a few of PushON’s pointers to make sure you’re getting them spot on.

  • Double check the spelling and grammar – it’s what users will see of your site first, so make a good impression!
  • Stay within Google’s character limit (characters with spaces) – 145-155 characters.
  • Include a call-to-action or a promotional offer such as ‘visit our website’, ‘shop now’, ‘free uk delivery’ or ‘everything 50% off’, if appropriate.
  • Include the main target keyword(s) for this page.
  • Ensure there are no missing or duplicate meta descriptions, as Google can penalise your site for this

Proper meta descriptions are essential for SEO, which are a factor that Google considers when ranking your page, so it’s crucial to get them right! Get in touch with our SEO team today for more information about how to write a meta description or optimise web pages.