Meta What? Meta tags are dinosaurs but meta descriptions are IN.

If you’re trying to navigate through the world of SEO and attempt to upgrade your site a little, a good place to start is with meta descriptions.

Adding meta keyword tags used to be a best practice. This is obsolete because there’s not a real need for these anymore. However, adding meta descriptions to your website’s content are very important in the overall conversion process. Here’s a little video from Google Webmasters that explains this a bit. While this is from a few years ago, this still applies!

So what’s a meta description?

Yoast describes a meta description to be, “a snippet of up to about 155 characters – a tag in HTML – which summarizes a page’s content. Search engines show the meta description in search results mostly when the searched-for phrase is within the description, so optimizing the meta description is crucial for on-page SEO.”

So, the sole purpose of these is to get someone CLICK on your website in their search results. Imagine if you sell nail supplies, and in the search result, your meta description says nothing about nail supplies. Yikes! The user most likely will pass it up. First, here’s what a correct setup looks like:

Okay, so that website URL is kind of gross…but we’ll ignore that for now. (PS. Your URL should be nice and clean and short and relevant…) Now, take a peek at a “nail supplies” meta description that isn’t quite so gorg.

That meta description is not good for a couple of reasons.

  1. It doesn’t explain the term I’d searched for, and provides no call to action.
  2. You should optimize for ALL browsers, not just a select few. As developers, we know Internet Explorer can sometimes be a pain in the rear end, but hey a lot of people use it!

Now that you know what a meta description is, and what it’s for—it’s time to get to work! This is a tedious task if you have a lot of posts and pages, but it’s well worth the time. You can even update your most important pages first and just work your way through the rest week to week. For WordPress users, the easiest way to get this done is to install the Yoast SEO plugin. Yoast provides a ton of documentation from how to get started, to how many characters you should use.

Get started with Meta Descriptions with this intro post from Yoast.

Also – if you’re already using Yoast, make sure that your meta descriptions follow the new, old rule of 155 characters. Google changed their mind again, so we had to follow suit.

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