“Meta Descriptions are brief snippets of text which explain the content and the functionality of the site to assist potential users.”
Similar to alt text meta descriptions are brief snippets of text which explain the content and the functionality of the site to assist potential users. When crawlers read a site they assess the meta description and return this to the database (this process is known as indexing).
Once this text has been indexed it is returned along with the page’s title and URL in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). You’ve seen meta descriptions before, even if you don’t know it – meta descriptions are used on every single organic search result.
In the below image, the text below the search result that reads “Ever had a web dream?” is the first line of the meta description for our homepage. The meta description then goes on to describe what services we offer to users who may see our site in the search results.
The full meta description reads:
“Ever had a web dream? We can help your web dreams become a reality with our Brisbane based design team. Click through for a ballpark quote!”
The description covers off:
- A qualification of potential users (those with “web dreams”)
- One of our basic, but integral services (web design) and
- Our location (Brisbane)
This is all critical information that any potential users of our site would want to know before they click through.
The meta description sets the user’s expectations long before they even decide to click on the sitelink.”
Meta descriptions are capped at 160 characters which means they need to be on message and on point and focused at your key users. This is why Google places a lot of emphasis on the relevance of the meta description and its relationship to the page’s content. The meta description sets the user’s expectations long before they even decide to click on the sitelink.