Showing up in search engines is one thing, but getting people to click onto your page or post from the search engine results page is another. There are over 200 ranking factors that comprise Google’s algorithm, but there are other components to creating a user friendly and well optimized site.
A meta description is the bit of text you see underneath a page title that describes what the page or post is about. Meta descriptions can be set manually, but if they aren’t, Google will automatically pull the bit of text from the page that they think will be the most relevant. In some cases, however, Google may even override the meta description you set if they think something else will be more relevant for what a user is searching.
Meta titles and meta descriptions can also be thought of as page titles and page descriptions, and you’ve definitely seen them if you’ve ever done a Google search. Take a look:
Surprisingly meta descriptions are not a ranking factor.
Even I find that odd!
They can play such a critical role in click through rate, sparking interest, and being informational. A quality meta description can mean the difference between someone clicking on your page within the SERPs, or scrolling on by because they don’t find it compelling.
In the example above, this wedding photographer includes her target city, defines that she is a wedding and portrait photographer, identifies her photography style, and indicates that she is available for travel – all in under 160 characters.
Think of how helpful that meta description may be for a client who is located in Waupaca, WI seeking a wedding photographer with a documentary approach. Talk about reaching your target audience!
If you’re on WordPress I recommend downloading Yoast. This free plugin populates on the back end of each page and post of your website and allows you to fill in the information you’d specifically like to add for your SEO title (also known as meta title or page title), slug, and meta description. Here’s what it looks like: