The meta-description and title tag are the first things users see of you in the search engine. With just a few characters, readers decide whether to stay or continue clicking.
In this article, we will devote ourselves to the perfect meta description. We reveal valuable tips so that your meta description is convincing and you gain more visitors.
What is the meta-description?
The meta-description is the meta title in the header of a website. The prefix “meta” comes from Greek and means “behind” or “over”. Metadata is, therefore, data about data. They provide the search engine with structured information about the page.
In the search results, Google shows the meta-description in a so-called SERP snippet. The short excerpt is a trailer that summarizes the page content. It is not significant for the Google ranking but the click rate (Click-Through-Rate = CTR).
You should think of the meta description like the shop window. If there is inviting and exciting content, people also go in. If it looks chaotic and no-meaning, move on.
The tag for the meta-description looks like this
Not only Google and other search engines like Bing rely on the meta description. If someone shares a link on Twitter, Facebook the meta description often serves as a preview of the so-called OG tags (tags for social networks) missing.
Be sure to read our excellent SEO guide that explains all the vital SEO measures.
Why does Google sometimes replace the meta description?
The search engine’s crawler looks for the meta description in the header. However, Google is constantly optimizing the SERP snippets depending on user behavior.
If a URL ranks for keywords that do not appear in the meta description, Google often takes a text excerpt from the page that contains these keywords and creates a snippet itself.
There is only one reason for this: Search engines want to present users with tailored and relevant results. If a meta description is not optimized for the page content, it will not be displayed.
Ahrefs found that Google uses a different meta description than the one given in the header in 62 per cent of the cases. It happens significantly often when looking for long-tail keywords.
How long can the meta-description be?
Officially, Google does not give an exact number of characters for the maximum length of the meta description. Instead, the search engine specifies a full pixel width that is around 500 pixels. Depending on the letters used, these are 150 to 165 characters.
It is because an “M” is more comprehensive than an “I”, for example. If a meta description contains many wide letters, fewer characters are available. In addition, the search engine displays the searched keywords in bold, which are more comprehensive. If the date is displayed, the available characters are also reduced.
If the meta description is too long, Google will cut it off and add an ellipsis. If it is too short, it appears in a single line. It has a negative effect on the attention of internet users.
Content management systems like WordPress and plugins like Yoast warn if the meta description is too long or too short. They also allow you to specify the meta description in the page settings without entering it directly into the source code.
Rich snippets are SERP snippets that contain text, images, star ratings, price information and links. On the one hand, they are more noticeable. On the other hand, fewer characters are available for the text.
The AIDA principle: arouse curiosity with just a few words
As internet readers, we are confronted with a bunch of content every day. Our brain only absorbs out the information that seems essential to us.
The AIDA principle begins with advertising marketing and guides to make a strong impression with just a few characters. AIDA means:
- Attention: First of all, the gaze must remain fixed. For this, we require concise words and interpretations. For example, “holiday bargains” or “cheap smartphones”. Special characters such as stars & ticks are more noticeable if used sparingly.
- Interest: If the user has become aware of the meta description, he should learn as much as possible about the page. Lines like “read the most helpful customer reviews” or “we’ll show you the most popular furniture” encourage you to continue reading.
- Desire (desire): The user should feel the urge to visit the page. Sentences like “Lose weight quickly in a week?” or “Learn Spanish on PC + Tablet ✓ Super learning ✓ Fast and Efficient” promise the solution to a problem.
- Action: A call-to-action at the end calls for action. “Subscribe now!” or “Read now!” are suitable expressions.
You will find several tools on the Internet that will help you to create a meta description. The Sistrix Snippet Generator shows the current snippet for a given URL and makes relevant meta descriptions for a specific keyword. If desired, rich snippets, special characters and the date can be added.
Dos and don’ts for meta-descriptions
- Summarize the article of your website in a meaningful way. Ask yourself why someone should visit your page.
- Do not exceed 160 characters.
- Don’t forget the most important keywords, but avoid keyword stuffing.
- Use Unicode special characters such as checkmarks, voting boxes, asterisks and emojis carefully.
- Make sure that the meta description does not promise any information or products that are not on your side.
Conclusion: Write the perfect meta-description
A meta description is an essential tool with which the click rate and thus also the number of organic visitors to your website can be influenced.
Therefore, pay attention to the correct length of characters, meaningful and concise descriptions and encourage potential visitors to click by generating sufficient attention with the meta-description.
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