If you want to drive more targeted organic traffic, boost your CTR (Click Through Rate) and improve conversions, the very first thing that you need to do is to avoid big meta description mistakes. Now the question is, do meta descriptions still matter in SEO? The answer is a yes, but obviously not for the reasons you think.
You need to create meta descriptions not only for SEO but also for some other purposes. There are some best practices you need to follow when creating them. It is true that meta descriptions are not a vital factor that will rank your content in Google, but it still has a significant role in your search visibility. In fact, if you are focusing on Bing, meta descriptions can play a significant role in your ranking.
Remember, SEO is not about ranking, it is also about
- Attracting visitors’ attention
- Establishing authority
- Engaging with a target audience through keyword-rich content
- Inducing some action by searchers
Meta descriptions might not all about ranking, but it matters since they makeup and/or contribute to a significant portion of content displayed in the search engine results. That is why making mistakes while creating meta descriptions is not at all recommended. They represent an opportunity for website owners to “promote” a page and/or incorporate a CTA (call to action) directly into the search results.
Google prioritizes meta descriptions more on a mobile device than on a desktop. Google provides a snippet as a summary of the content generated by site owners to make searchers understand what the pages are all about. So, whenever you create meta descriptions as a site owner, make sure they make sense, and try to create the best meta description by avoiding the following mistakes –
1. Mistake 1
- Meta descriptions that are too long:
The maximum length of a meta description should be 160 characters for desktop and 120 characters for mobile. However, when Google creates snippets, they might be a little lengthy. But you never know if Google is going to create one for you or not. So, you should create a description that is clear, engaging, and should never exceed the maximum limit.
2. Mistake 2
- Meta descriptions that are too short:
While keeping your description short and simple is essential, a too-short meta description might not promote your content the way you want. The too-short meta descriptions might lack substance, and therefore, quality. The worst part is, it might harm your ability to have the page rank, and most certainly have the description replaced with the content of Google’s choosing. To play safe, try to make it 160 characters with a call to action.
3. Mistake 3
- Inconsistent meta description with page content:
We all know meta description summarizes a page that is associated with it. Still, there are hundreds of instances where meta descriptions lack their importance due to a lack of attention to every detail. It prevents them from precisely reflect what is on the page. When your meta description is inconsistent, search engines will never consider it. That means you might lose your chances of having your content properly indexed and ranked.
4. Mistake 4
- Lack of relevant keywords:
Whenever you write meta descriptions for your website content, make sure you use the right keywords with a longer title (not more than the maximum limit of words). Make sure you include more and more relevant keywords within that word limit. Google might highlight the keywords it finds more relevant and helps in engaging with the SERPs.
5. Mistake 5
- Description Duplication:
Duplicate meta descriptions appearing on multiple website pages might affect your website’s impression. Remember, your laziness to create unique meta descriptions can be disapproved by the search engines. If you want to leave a great impression, create a unique and engaging description. It helps the search engine crawlers to understand what the content is all about.
6. Mistake 6
- Keyword Stuffing:
Keyword stuffing is another mistake the site owners often make. It would be great to incorporate a primary keyword or phrase into your page description for consistency with your page title and URL. Don’t repeat the same keywords with multiple variations to create a 160-character sentence. This might also be considered as a duplicate description.
7. Mistake 7
- Your meta description is monotonous:
Remember, your meta description reflects what your page is about. It describes your webpage and attracts and engages the audience to your site. No one would like to click on your site after reading boring meta descriptions. So, create your descriptions in an interesting way by keeping the keywords in mind.
8. Mistake 8
- Excluding call to action:
If you are done with a web page content, and the call to action is not added, it is incomplete. The same goes for your meta descriptions. Having a call to action makes the content more reliable. Your audience would love to click on “Click now for a free, no-obligation offer” rather than simple content. After all, your main motto is to improve your chances of receiving clicks. Do it with efficiency.
9. Mistake 9
- Confusing meta descriptions with snippets:
Another common mistake people often make is that they get confused with metadata and snippets. The words you write are meta descriptions, and the words the search engines show in the SERPs is snippets. They are not the same thing. When Google displays snippets, it uses your meta descriptions around 30% of the time. You should well optimize your meta description for the topical, intent-based keyword groups to influence the final snippet displayed.
10. Mistake 10
- Not creating any meta descriptions:
This point might seem pointless for many, but a quick review of multiple websites would prove that several websites lack basic meta descriptions for their web pages. Since it is believed meta descriptions don’t play any significant role, people sometimes don’t feel the necessity to create one. But the truth is, meta descriptions might not have a direct link to ranking, but they leave an impression on your audience and search engines and help in enhancing engagement.
Apart from the top 10 mistakes, there are some not so common mistakes that the site owners often make. They are –
11. Mistake 11:
- Not optimizing for rich snippets:
With the help of rich snippets, you can easily standout your meta descriptions in the crowd. Rich snippets can make a great difference in terms of quality of your meta descriptions. So, don’t forget to optimize them.
12. Mistake 12:
- Avoiding HTML tables for direct Answer queries:
Since Google’s aim is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful, the search engine naturally gives preference to websites that provide direct answers to searchers. With HTML tables, you can gain an upper hand over your competitors.
Things you need to do for creating great meta descriptions:
Well, apart from avoiding the above-discussed mistakes, you can also do the following to make your meta descriptions unique and attractive to your visitors and make a great impression on your organic search results –
- Keep your copy readable
- Make your copy specific
- Use numbers, symbols and special characters
- Keep your copy customer-centric
- Include a call-to-action
To sum up, we can say meta descriptions still matter, and you should be careful while creating meta descriptions to avoid any mistake and make your websites more appealing to your audience as well as the search engines. Remember, they play an important role in organic search visibility.