A perfect meta description is key to attracting users to your website from the SERPs. In this article, we give you some useful tips about how to write great meta descriptions.
A good, optimized meta description can help improve your CTR, and therefore increase traffic to your website. Your meta description appears as the snippet in search engine results, so this is the first element of your brand a user will see. There are many ways you can go about creating a good meta description - as well as being descriptive and able to attract the reader's interest.
Many SEOs and online marketers are asking themselves what is the best length for a meta description. In November-December 2017, Google made some changes to the length of snippets and offered webmasters the opportunity to write longer descriptions, up to 300 characters. You can find more about this topic here. However, Google has now cut back on the length of meta descriptions; now webmasters should be careful that they do not exceed 155-160 characters.
Your meta descriptions have to stimulate visitors to click on your website in the SERPs, which will help to improve your click-through-rate long-term. You can check the length of your meta descriptions with Ryte’s software. In the module Website Success, click on "Content", "Description" and "Length". You will then see the meta descriptions of all crawled pages of your website.
Figure 1: Length of your meta descriptions with Ryte
According to Google, it’s important that every URL on your website has a description. With Ryte, you can see which webpages are missing one, and with a basic suite account, you can export and save this list as a PDF.
Figure 2: Create a PDF report
For an overview of the meta descriptions that are too short or too long, click on the respective yellow semi circle. You should be particularly careful with the meta descriptions that are too long – these could be shortened by Google in the SERPs, meaning that important information, keywords, or a call to action might be missing from the snippet.
Every URL should have an individual meta description – Google advises: "Differentiate the descriptions for different pages." If a description is used more than once, it is less likely to be seen by Google as an accurate description of your website content. Therefore, having multiple duplicate descriptions makes it less likely that Google will use your actual meta description from the source code as the snippet text, and will take text from your page that it sees as most fitting.
With Ryte’s Website Success, you can see with just one click how many duplicate meta descriptions there are on your website. Click on the menu point "Description" and "Duplicates".
Figure 3: Duplicate meta descriptions
If your website is connected to the Google Search Console, you can also check here whether you have duplicate descriptions. However, the Google Search Console’s Database is not updated as often as Ryte's. With the Ryte Basic Suite, you can crawl your project more regularly which means you can always work with the most current version of your site.
The goal of a good meta description is to encourage users to click on your website in the SERPs, thus improving your click through rate. If you really want to evaluate the success of your meta description optimizations, you should regularly check the CTR.
To check your CTR with Ryte, connect your Ryte project with your project in the Google Search Console – this means that Ryte can use the data from your GSC project indefinitely.
Now click on the module “Search Success,” and on the menu point "pages". Here, you see an overview of your URLs with the clicks, impressions and click rate within a certain time frame.
Figure 4: Clicks, impressions and click rate of your URLs
If you click on the column "average CTR", the results are sorted in descending order according to the clickrate.
It is also important to check the performance of your descriptions on different devices. Click on one of the options above the table ("Time frame", "Devices" or "Countries") to open the filter menu, and you have a range of options to choose from. To see your click through rate on mobile devices, set a filter for "mobile".
Figure 5: Filter the CTR according to device
When you click on save, the click rate for smart phones is displayed.
Figure 6: Clicks, impressions and click rate on mobile devices
Meta descriptions are instrumental to SEO. Improving your meta descriptions could make a huge difference to the number of users who click on your website, which, in the long term will improve your conversions and sales. Ryte’s software can help you keep an eye on the optimization of your meta descriptions. Not only can you check your meta descriptions for length and duplicates, you can also see improvements in your CTR, giving you concrete proof of the success rate of your work. When improving your descriptions, bear in mind that the text itself is not relevant for ranking. So that your users see your meta descriptions, your website has to be ranking well. Provided your website is ranking well, a well written meta description can easily increase the CTR, bringing more traffic to your website.
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Published on 12/21/2017 by Olivia Willson.
Who writes here
After studying at King’s College London, Olivia moved to Munich, where she joined the Ryte team in 2017. She is in charge of product marketing and CRO, and also helps out with SEO and content marketing. When she's not working, you can usually find her outside, either running around a track, or hiking up a mountain.
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