When (& When Not) to Write Meta Descriptions

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Loads of old-school search engine optimization dialogue was spent on meta descriptions – size, content material, use of key phrases, and extra.

Now, the query is – are meta descriptions nonetheless essential? And does altering your meta descriptions have an effect on search engine optimization?

You’ve run a website audit with a crawl utilizing your favourite search engine optimization instrument. All appeared effectively, however then you definitely’re alerted to the truth that a whole bunch, 1000’s, or tens of millions of pages on the web site in query are lacking meta descriptions.

Do you panic?

You might inform your supervisor that you could spend the following month head-down writing 155-character descriptions for each webpage on the positioning. But is that actually the most effective use of your time?

Some webpages simply don’t want a meta description. Here’s why.

5 Reasons You May Not Want to Write That Meta Description

Google is Constantly Testing & Changing the Way Search Results Appear

The restrict for displaying meta-descriptions has modified a number of instances. From ~150-165 characters, up to 260-275 characters, then again down to 165 characters. Across the search engine optimization business, finest practices on how lengthy meta descriptions needs to be have developed.


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These modifications resulted in lots of outcomes that had been optimized for the earlier shorter model trying sub-optimal. Then, as soon as individuals had modified meta descriptions to the brand new size, effectively… Google modified it again.

It takes a big period of time to optimize round these modifications, and most web sites would’ve been higher off throughout this take a look at interval with no meta description quite than one which was too lengthy or too quick.

Organizations Have Limited Resources

Although Google recommends that you just “Make sure that every page on your site has a meta description,” additionally they state that their use of the tag in creating search consequence pages is mild at finest.

“Google will sometimes use the <meta> description tag from a page to generate a search results snippet, if we think it gives users a more accurate description than would be possible purely from the on-page content.”

The “sometimes” there’s doing numerous work.

Is your time higher spent optimizing meta descriptions which might be solely typically utilized by engines like google – or optimizing the content material that’s all the time utilized by engines like google and customers?


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Meta descriptions are the form of factor that should be selectively targeted on. That means typically selectively ignoring them, too.

Google Usually Writes Its Own Description Snippet

Google nearly all the time writes its personal description snippet, even for those who present a meta description.

A Yoast research evaluating the earlier than and after of Google’s description size change discovered that in two-thirds of circumstances, Google used phrases from the primary paragraph of content material on the web page to create an outline for the snippet.

Your time could also be higher spent optimizing the primary paragraph quite than optimizing meta description tags, if the aim is to affect description snippets.

Forcing Google to Create Description Snippets is Often a Great Thing

Your meta description, changed into the phrases included within the snippet on the SERP, has as a lot an opportunity of driving a customer away because it does welcoming them in.

Google’s John Mueller has mentioned one motive they rewrite meta descriptions is as a result of they need to precisely match the search question with the web page.

The extra you say within the snippet, the better probability of decreasing the thriller of what’s behind the clicking, for good however usually for dangerous.

Many weblog posts, for instance, depend on an excellent number of long-tail key phrases and reply many very completely different questions inside a single submit’s content material.

Let’s say you write an article about apples, the place you even have a very good description of oranges. Your meta description is all about apples – and customers trying to find the data about oranges will assume your website doesn’t have that info.

By having a static description, the search consequence snippet is much less seemingly to comprise the key phrases that the searcher used. This dangers being much less related than the Google-generated snippet.

Not All Pages Matter Equally for search engine optimization

Large web sites usually have 1000’s or tens of millions of pages that may by no means drive important volumes of pure search site visitors. Think about your privateness coverage – what number of natural guests do you get there?


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It is a waste of time to manually – and even programmatically – preserve meta descriptions on webpages that haven’t any potential to rank.

Don’t let your marketing consultant or toolset idiot you; you don’t want a meta description on each web page, and even shut to each web page.

Remember that each one content material requires future upkeep. It can be much better to haven’t any meta description than a poor or outdated one.

When auditing your website for meta descriptions, differentiate between these pages that do and don’t want them and solely preserve these which might be obligatory.

So when do you want a meta description?

4 Times When You Absolutely Should Provide a Meta Description


Your homepage might be your most crucial webpage, so the homepage deserves an excellent meta description.

Many homepages are navigational in nature, have extra imagery and design components, and fewer paragraph textual content in contrast to different pages on-site which means the necessity for a meta description is elevated. The much less textual content on a web page, the extra seemingly it’s to want a meta description.


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If you handle the web site for a recognized model, the homepage meta description presents an opportunity to affect the notion of the corporate instantly on the search outcomes web page.

Product & Category Pages

If your web site exists to assist your group make gross sales, your product and class pages are seemingly essentially the most essential pages in your website for serving late-stage prospect curiosity.

These are a very powerful pages to get proper. These are definitely price spending your time fine-tuning as a lot as attainable.

Content That is Getting Seen on Google

If your web site has 2,000 previous weblog posts however solely the highest 10% drive important search site visitors, then focus your efforts on these.

Improving the meta description for previous content material that isn’t rating (and can by no means rank in its present state) is not going to enhance your site visitors or website in any respect — though your search engine optimization instrument could inform you in any other case!.

Improve the descriptions for pages which have important impression quantity.

Pages Found in Natural Search however Lacking Text Content

Many webpages that serve embedded movies, widgets, and apps are missing descriptive textual content for Google to use for the outline.


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Similarly, for sources pages and different pages that are principally only a checklist of hyperlinks, Google has nothing to pull from to create an optimum description.

In these circumstances, an internet site ought to make certain to present a meta description for engines like google to use.

Again, the golden rule is: The much less textual content on a web page, the extra essential a meta description turns into.

Know When to Ignore Alerts, Best Practices & Guidelines

In an ideal world the place an search engine optimization skilled has as many staff members as obligatory to hand-craft meta descriptions and alter them throughout a sea of pages on the drop of Google’s hat, all webpages ought to have meta descriptions.

However, we’re all restricted by time and should select which ways are worthwhile. It’s essential to rethink whether or not these finest practices are definitely worth the time funding.

It’s controversial however true. If you aren’t going to rank with a web page, meta descriptions merely aren’t definitely worth the hassle of upkeep.


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You could also be higher off encouraging Google to craft description snippets.

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