Meta descriptions – length, content, keyword usage, and more – were the subject of a lot of old-school SEO debate.
The question now is whether meta descriptions are still relevant. Does updating your meta descriptions have an impact on your SEO? Meta descriptions are still useful in some cases, but not always. Now, not every website requires one.
You've used your preferred SEO tool to perform a site assessment using a crawl. Everything appeared to be in order until you discovered that hundreds, thousands, or even millions of pages on the website in issue are lacking meta descriptions.
You may inform your boss that you need to spend the next month producing 155-character descriptions for all of the site's pages. Is this, however, the best use of your time? Some websites don't require a meta description. This is why.
The maximum number of meta-descriptions that can be displayed has varied multiple times. From 150 to 165 characters, subsequently, 260 to 275 characters, now back to 165. Best guidelines for how lengthy meta descriptions have evolved across the SEO business.
As a result of these modifications, many findings that had been optimised for the prior shorter version now appear to be sub-optimal. After that, once everyone had updated their meta descriptions to the new length, Google reversed the modification.
It takes a long time to optimise for these changes, and also, most websites would have been better off without a meta description during this test period than with one that was too lengthy or too short.
Although Google advises you to "Make sure that every page on your site contains a meta description," they also indicate that their use of the tag in constructing search result pages is at best sparse.
"Google will occasionally utilise a page's description element to build a search results snippet if we believe it provides visitors with a more appropriate description than would be feasible just from on-page material."
There is a lot of work to be done "occasionally."
Is it preferable to spend your time improving meta descriptions, which are only utilised by search engines on occasion, or optimising content, which users and search engines always utilise?
Meta descriptions are the type of item that requires careful attention. That also includes ignoring them sometimes.
Even if you supply a meta description, Google nearly always creates its own description snippet.
According to Yoast's research comparing the before and after of Google's description length modification, Google utilised terms from the first paragraph of text on the page to build a description for the snippet in two-thirds of situations.
If you want to affect description snippets, you could be better off optimising the initial paragraph rather than the meta description tags.
When transformed into the words that appear in the SERP snippet, your meta description has just as much of a potential to repel visitors as it does to bring them in.
One of the reasons Google rewrites meta descriptions, according to John Mueller, is to match the search query with the page precisely. The more you say in the clip, the better your chances of revealing what's behind the click, which might be good or bad.
Many blog entries, for example, use a wide range of long-tail keywords to answer a number of topics within the text of a single piece.
Assume you're writing an essay about apples that also includes a nice description of oranges. Users looking for information about oranges will conclude your site doesn't offer it because your meta description is entirely about apples.
The search result snippet is much less likely to contain the searcher's keywords if it has a static description. This may be less relevant than the snippet produced by Google.
Maintaining meta descriptions manually – or perhaps even programmatically – on pages that have no chance of ranking is a waste of effort.
You don't require a meta description for every page, or perhaps even close to every page, don't let your consultant or toolkit deceive you.
Keep in mind that all materials will require ongoing upkeep. It is preferable to have no meta description than to have an inadequate or obsolete one.
When reviewing your site for meta descriptions, distinguish between pages that require them and those that do not, and only keep those that are required.
So, when is a meta description required?
Because your homepage is likely your most important page, it demands a superb meta description.
Many homepages are typically navigational in nature, with more visual and design elements and less paragraph content than other pages on the site, necessitating the need for a meta description. The less content on a page, the more probable a meta description is required.
If you operate a well-known brand's website, the homepage meta description provides an opportunity to impact the company's perception immediately on the search results page.
Your product or category pages are probably the most crucial pages on your website for servicing late-stage prospect interests if your website exists to assist your company make sales.
These are the most crucial pages to master. These are definitely worth spending as much time as feasible fine-tuning.
Concentrate your attention on the top 10% of your website's 2,000 old blog entries that attract considerable search traffic.
Although your SEO tool may tell you differently, improving the meta description for outdated content that isn't ranking (and will never rank in its present shape) will have no effect on your traffic or site.
Improve the description for pages with a high amount of impressions.
Many websites with embedded videos, widgets, and applications don't have enough descriptive text for Google to utilise as a description
Similarly, Google has nothing to work with when creating an optimum description for resources webpages and other sites that are essentially simply a list of links.
A website should include a meta description for search engines to use in these circumstances.
We all have a limited amount of time and must choose which strategies are beneficial. It's crucial to think about whether such best practices are worth the time invested. It's debatable, but it's true. Meta descriptions aren't worth the bother of maintaining if you're not going to rank with a page.