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The Changing Trend You Should Know in Meta Descriptions

If you are a marketer or have at least interacted with content writing or web designing, you would know that meta description play such a crucial role in summarising the contents of a web page. Essentially, meta descriptions tell the search engine bots what a web page contains.

Up until December 2017, meta descriptions were recommended to be approximately 160 characters in length. If this limit is exceeded, Google would truncate the description when displaying it on the search engine results page. Alternatively, if Google feels that the meta description does not describe the page contents, it generates its own description to replace it.

Towards the end of 2017, Google announced that it was expanding the allowance for meta description to accommodate up to 320 characters. This is double the initial recommendation and according to the search engine, this move was prompted by the need to offer more information to users.

Meta Descriptions Today

The fact that Google is considering changing the length of meta descriptions, it means they are still important in search engine ranking and they are unlikely to go away any time soon. Inasmuch as meta description are not a direct ranking signal, they help in improving the performance of web pages which means they are incredibly important.

According to Google, meta descriptions are much like a sales pitch that convinces the user that the page they are on is exactly what they are after. For this reason, a well-crafted meta description will improve the visibility of a page as well as its performance through positive user behaviour signals.

Can Meta Descriptions Become Extinct?

In the past, there have been some spammy meta data manipulations. The reason why this has been happening is because meta data is user controlled and as such open to manipulation to this very day. SEO professionals understand that meta keywords no longer affect the ranking or visibility of a web page yet some uninformed webmasters go ahead and stuff keywords on their meta descriptions hoping that Google will rank them favourably.

Since search engines have been ignoring meta keywords, some people have been led to believe that meta descriptions are also becoming irrelevant. However, the truth is, Google still has its eyes on meta descriptions hence issuing recommendations for the same.

Through meta descriptions, Google can achieve its goal of supplying its users with the right information in a convenient and fast manner. Even though users can control meta descriptions, Google’s recommendations ensure that they are not exploited for personal gain.

What is the Future of Meta Descriptions?

One thing is for sure that meta descriptions cannot be eliminated. To do this, there has been to be another element of a web page that can take care of the descriptions. As it is now, there isn’t any and no efforts are being expended to develop one. The only option though remote is for Google to dynamically generate meta descriptions for all sites on the web which is a huge task it may not be able to undertake. The bottom line is for content marketers to continue leveraging meta descriptions just the way Google recommends and you will be assured of a step ahead of your competitors.

SEO professionals, marketers, and web publishers should utilise the power of meta descriptions to control part of the outcome their websites enjoy on search engine results pages. Some of the ways of optimising meta descriptions include restricting descriptions to the recommended characters, adding keywords, and aiming them at specific stages of intent. Ensure you take time to produce quality meta descriptions together with image attributes, title tags, and header tags for positive effects on your organic search performance.


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