What is a metadata description? It’s a blurb about your page that tells a user what it is about, what they will expect to find, or what you want them to do when they arrive. Google often displays Metadata descriptions on the search results page just below your HTML Title. Here’s an example from the homepage of Dijon Marketing today:
Here, we’ve explicitly set the metadata description to read, “Dijon Marketing specializes in digital marketing for registered 501(c)(3) charities – hosting, domain registration, email, web design, SEO, PPC, and more!”
How Metadata Descriptions Impact Search
In doing so, we hope that users who are searching related queries will see this description and want to learn more about the digital marketing offers we have. You’ll notice in this example, the words “Dijon Marketing” are in bold. That’s because the Google query used to pull up this result was “Dijon Marketing.” Google highlights where your query shows up in the results. This additional formatting helps you determine which result is most relevant to you at this exact moment.
If we had searched “domain registration” or “digital marketing for registered 501(c)(3) charities,” these terms might be highlighted in the metadata description. Keyword: might. Something else might happen when you alter the query to test your site’s performance on Google. The metadata description can change entirely. Google reserves the right to interrogate your page and try to find the best blurb it can compared to the user’s exact query. It might grab the first sentence of a paragraph, a heading, or piece together its own description from content on your page. In general, that’s a good thing! It can help people who don’t know your brand yet discover you and click through to your site.
The ultimate goal of the metadata description is to increase the click-through ratio, or CTR, to your site. Calculate CTR by taking the number of times someone clicked on your site divided by the number of times you were shown as a result.
Best Practices for Writing Metadata Descriptions
- Always manually populate the metadata description. Don’t rely on auto-generated or leave the field blank.
- Think about the description as an advertisement, an enticement, or a call to action.
- Place the most important or impactful language towards the front
- While Google has played with the length of characters they will show (from 160 to 320 back to 160), aim for around 160 characters. If you run on a bit long, Google will truncate you in the display and all that hard work after the “…” will be for naught.
- That said, a good description is better than a short one, so don’t fuss too much over exact character counts.
Need help identifying the right keywords, verbiage, and content for your metadata description and beyond? Contact us!