Yes, meta description tags still matter. Google’s page for developers says that it still matters because Google may use these tags as snippets in the search results.
However, some say that it may not be relevant on some occasions. They mean that you are not supposed to craft meta-description on all of your articles or published content. Despite this contention, using meta descriptions is still a good practice.
Do meta descriptions affect SEO?
Yes and no. There is no absolute answer to this. In 2009, Google announced that meta descriptions and meta keywords are not a factor for ranking in the search results pages (SERPs).
So why even bother? Many people do not realize that the meta description can affect CTR or click-through rates. If you do not know by now, Google looks at your web page’s CTR and uses that as a factor on how to rank your page next time.
People who search for information on search engines read the meta description before clicking. They want to know if the content of that site matches their search intent.
As such, the meta description is your “advertisement” on the search engine results page. If your web page has no meta description or does not meet what the user is looking for, you will not get a click.
The impact of meta descriptions on SEO or ranking is indirect. What it affects is the user behavior, or how a user decides. In turn, that behavior tells Google how to rank the page next time.
Now that we have established that meta description matters in SEO, what should you do next? Obviously, you must write your meta description the right way.
Should you even use Meta Descriptions?
Yes and no. If you observe, many huge-traffic websites do not use meta descriptions in their posts. However, they still use meta descriptions in their homepages.
Here are some examples:
- SEOMoz – they use meta descriptions for the homepage but not for blog pages and posts.
- Search Engine Land – they use meta description for the homepage, and they also use meta description for some posts, but not for every post.
- Search Engine Watch – they use meta descriptions for the homepage, but not on posts.
- Search Engine Journal – they use short meta descriptions for the homepage but not on the posts.
So, what can we learn from here? We can conclude that you need to write lengthy meta descriptions on your homepage and use it occasionally for your blog posts.
Why am I saying this?
As you can see, many blog websites are not as big as these SEO websites. We do not usually amass millions of traffic, so we still need to write meta descriptions for our blog posts. And when you do use them, make sure that you follow the rules and use meta tags properly.
Why should you still use meta descriptions?
So, if meta descriptions do not impact SEO and ranking, why should I even bother? Well, do not look at meta descriptions as ranking factors. Instead, look at them as a conversion factor.
As I said earlier, your meta description directly impacts your CTR. Whenever your page appears on search, the user will read the meta description, and it is this description will tell the reader what to do.
1. Keywords are bolded in search results
As you may have observed, keywords in the meta descriptions are bolded in the search results pages. Some users scan these bolded keywords, especially if they look for unique topics.
What this means for you is if you are targeting long-tail and unique keywords, you must use them in your meta description. The user will see it quickly and then click on your URL.
2. Social networks still use it
When people share pages on social media, the social media site uses the meta description. They show the content of the meta description is the snippet section of the shared post.
So, how does it help? If the reader sees the first sentence of the meta description on the post share and likes it, he will click it. He will get redirected to your website, which is added traffic for you.
So, despite Google not using meta descriptions as a ranking factor, there is value in adding meta descriptions in your blog posts.
I, for one, do not click on articles if I do not see the keyword in the description. I also do not click on search result links if the meta description does not meet my expectations.
How to improve your CTR with meta descriptions
Here are some ways by which you can improve your click-through rate with your meta descriptions.
- Describe what the user will get – tell the user what the article is about; you only have 160 characters, so make every word count. Ensure that if the reader sees the meta description, he will tell himself that this is the information he is looking for.
- Write CTA – always use action words like read, click, visit, etc. These words will prompt the reader to do something after reading the meta description.
If you want, you can also test your CTR. You can view the CTR performance from your Google Search console. If it is low, you may want to change how you write your meta description. Create a standard format, and then see which ones work best for your CTR.
Summary: Is The Meta Description Tag Still Important for SEO?
Meta descriptions have no direct impact on how your web pages and posts rank. They do have a direct impact on your CTR. If the meta description describes what the content is about, a user is most likely to click on your link.
Big sites only use meta descriptions in their homepages. They are already amassing huge traffic, and they have authority, so a meta description is no longer that important. To you, however, the meta description can go a long way, so I highly recommend that you use it.
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