How To Write Meta Descriptions - Google Guidelines

Monika Rawat

Google recently made changes to their official documentation that covers guidelines for writing meta descriptions. The additional guidance covers examples of best and worst practices while writing meta descriptions. 

Just because users cannot see meta descriptions does not mean that they are not important. Writing quality meta descriptions can improve the quality and quantity of your search traffic. And it is a well-known fact that meta descriptions and titles are a ranking factor, not as influential as other ranking factors, but still important enough to be included in your search engine optimisation strategy

Examples Of Meta Descriptions

In Control your snippets in search results document, Google shared 4 examples of both good and bad descriptions.

Bad Meta Descriptions

  • Keyword Stuffed Meta Descriptions

Google draws attention to meta descriptions that are simply a list of keywords and do not summarise the content.

Example: "Sewing supplies, yarn, colored pencils, sewing machines, threads, bobbins, needles"

  • Same Meta Description For All Pages

Google calls out websites that use a meta description template on a large number of pages. This is mostly seen in news websites. 

Example: “ Get latest news from around the world. Brand is the best news website”

  • Meta descriptions that don’t summarise the post or page

It’s a common malpractice that many SEOs follow. Writing meta descriptions just to add keywords or phrases without summarising the content on the page.

  • Too Short Meta descriptions

Your meta descriptions should describe what the user is about to read. Make full use of the character limit and try to summarise the whole page.

Example: "Eggs are a source of joy in everyone's life. When I was a small child, I remember picking eggs from the hen house and bringing them to the kitchen. Those were the days."

Good Meta Descriptions

Here are some good examples of meta descriptions:

  • "Get everything you need to sew your next garment. Open Monday-Friday 8-5pm, located in the Fashion District."

This meta description completely describes the business, company’s location and other important information. It is the kind of information that users want to see when they want to visit a brick-and-mortar store. 

  • "Upsetting the small town of Whoville, a local elderly man steals everyone's presents the night before an important event. Stay tuned for live updates on the matter."

This meta description looks like a snippet of the original content and provides enough information to the user. 

  • "Learn how to cook eggs with this complete guide in 1 hour or less. We cover all the methods, including: over-easy, sunny side up, boiled, and poached."

In the third example, Google showcases the above example of a good meta description as it perfectly summarises the whole content. 

  • "Self-sharpening mechanical pencil that autocorrects your penmanship. Includes 2B auto-replenishing lead. Available in both Vintage Pink and School Bus Yellow. Order 50+ pencils, get free shipping."

The last example is a meta description of a product page and it focuses on the details of the product. 

Any leading digital marketing agency would recommend following good practises while doing on-page SEO. But sometimes, it gets complicated when you have a large number of dynamic pages on your website. Writing meta descriptions manually for each page might not be the most important task for you. In addition to that, even if you write great meta descriptions, Google might create a meta description based on the user’s query. But we still recommend that you invest a small chunk of your time in writing quality meta descriptions. 

Monika Rawat
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