Meta description & SEO: What you should know
The meta description does not affect your SEO. So, at least we already have that clear. Oh, you get reports or SEO scans stating that your meta description doesn’t include the search term? Or your SEO plugin indicates that you miss “keyword” in the meta description?
In any case, it is not something to deal with very convulsively. You will know after reading this article why the reports and plugins indicate this and what you really need to do with the search term in the meta description.
Table of Contents
What is Meta Description?
The meta description is the block of text under your link in the search results of the search engines. Here, the search engine user will find brief information about what is on your web page. So it is a kind of summary of the content of the page. In most content management systems (CMSs) you can enter the meta description yourself. Of course, you also include the subject of the page in this, so that the potential visitor receives confirmation that the page is about that.
As long as everyone understands what you are talking about, you can use whatever you want from me, I keep it on “meta description” and use meta description for the HTML tag with which you put the text in your web page. How is that?
Fill in yourself, but the search engine determines
As I mentioned before, in most CMSs you can enter your meta description yourself. It is a meta tag that will be placed in the HTML (code) of your web page. It then says:
<meta name = “description” content = “Here your text stands for the meta description” />
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Whether your own entered text is displayed is not guaranteed. Google itself determines which text they use, but in my experience, it is that a well-written meta description is often adopted.
Why fill in yourself?
Filling in yourself is smart anyway because the search engine itself extracts the information from your page if you do not enter the meta description yourself. This text retrieved by the search engine itself is then displayed in the meta description. This usually does not produce a nice and legible piece of text. Sometimes sentences come in that cut little word and are interrupted by dots because another word from the search comes from a different sentence:
So if you want at least a good chance that the search engine will display the best possible text, enter your meta description yourself.
Why your own text is important
By filling in your meta description yourself, you can place a promotional text that persuades the searcher to visit your website. In short: entering your meta description yourself means that you have control over what Google shows and what you tell the potential website visitor.
The influence on SEO
There are many people who think that the meta description counts for your findability and is, therefore, an SEO factor. That is of course not really possible if Google generates it automatically by not entering it yourself.
So it would give you an SEO advantage if you fill in yourself, that doesn’t make sense, does it? And then again: when someone searches for words that are not in the meta description you have written, Google will retrieve sentences with these words from your web page. These will then still be displayed in a meta description generated by Google.
But Yoast SEO does it count?
In my opinion, the misunderstanding surrounding the meta description was partly caused by the fact that Yoast SEO takes this into account for the well-known green dot. In fact, this is not correct – not as an SEO factor – but there is an explanation for it.
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When someone enters a search term, Google wants the words from the search term to appear in bold in the meta description. For example, the search engine wants to confirm that this topic appears on this page, as I have already described above.
So it is certainly wise to include your search term in the meta description, but not for your SEO efforts.
The meta description: useful, but not for your findability
The meta description is certainly useful and it is smart to write a good meta description for every page. You just don’t do this for your findability. Words from the meta description do not count as a ranking factor and serve purely as confirmation of the correct result for the searcher. So think about how you can convince the searcher to visit your website.
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And note: the flag must cover the cargo. If you write a good, not too long meta description for your page, then chances are that Google will take it with you, which you have in your own hands or whether people will come to your web page.
Length meta description
There is also a lot to do about the length of the meta description. In the article cited above about writing a good meta description, I will elaborate further on this. Most SEO plugins, unfortunately, give too much space, so your meta description eventually becomes too long. That is why I developed the SERP Snippet Preview Tool, which is stricter on that.
About to you: did you already know this or did you still think that the meta description really weighed on your findability? Let us know in a comment below. Questions are of course also welcome and I always answer them.