But not everybody knows that it doesn’t do this by influencing your page ranking in search results, but by influencing how many people click through from search results to your page.
By writing good meta descriptions you add context and value to a page title that encourages more readers to click through.
Be aware though that writing a dedicated meta description for a page does not guarantee that Google will display it. If Google decides that other passages of text on your page better reflect the specific search terms used than your meta description, it will show those instead - with little or no regard for where sentences begin and end or where words essential to context and meaning appear. The result can be quite frustrating.
With a bit of effort, and research, however, you should be able to write meta descriptions that are seen by many and increase the chances that they will click through - so it's worth doing.
Here's how you can write consistently effective meta descriptions for both your static pages and your blog content.
Boost your static-page appeal
For static pages, meta descriptions are your opportunity to show search users that you are capable of more than just blurting out the keywords that make up your page title. Here you can reassure them that in-between those keywords there is knowledge, expertise and skill.
Meta descriptions still need to feature keywords prominently of course.
The keywords in the page title are a good start.
You can also use analytics and webmaster tools to identify which keywords bring up your pages most often and what sort of click through rate they achieve for them.
Feature these keywords early on in your meta description and you will increase the likelihood that it is used by Google, seen in searches and, ultimately, clicked on.
It's best to write in proper sentences but characters are still limited so chose your words with care and don’t waste space being excessively verbose. Be concise, but complete. Demonstrate confidence and capability.
Repurpose your blog content
Our advice for writing meta descriptions for blog posts is again intended, as it was for page titles, to leverage the effort that you put into writing them while contributing to speedy and efficient publication.
If your blog is well written there is probably a key sentence, either in your introduction or later on where you make your big reveal, that does everything your meta description should.
I.e. it reveals the context of the piece, demonstrates your credibility on the topic and gives your reader reason to read on.
Therefore we recommend making this sentence your meta description, plain and simple. Of course your should edit it and paraphrase as necessary to meet the ideal 155 character limit but otherwise, leave well alone.
Does it really work?
The recent launch of our new site gave us the perfect opportunity to demonstrate how our meta description strategy works.
Before writing this post, our homepage, intentionally, had no meta description. When searching for 'Blend Marketing' in Google, the resulting snippet was a mess, with Google pulling any passage from our page content that featured those words. While doing this test I also noticed that the snippets for our sitelinks (those additional links below your main search result) were a mess too, with Google pulling any line of copy from those pages that featured the associated page titles.
We then wrote new, optimised meta descriptions for our home, about and contact pages – making sure that each featured the important keywords early on. Once these were uploaded, we gave Google a little while to crawl the pages and tested the search results again.
As you can see from the following image, when the right search terms are used, Google displays the new meta description for our homepage. What made us very happy however was that Google also showed the updated descriptions for the sitelink pages. The result is a clean, readable and informative search result that really helps the reader. Imagine if all your pages looked like this in search!
You could be loosing out on organic search traffic as you read this, so don't delay, get to writing your new meta descriptions right away.