Google gives update on meta description best practice

SEO is ripe with examples and commentary concerning what makes a good or bad meta description tag. There is often no black and white answer, and there is a range of circumstances where something can flip between the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ category. Google have recently provided an update which will now provide some welcome and greater clarity on this. It is something that both webmasters and SEO providers need to take important notice of, because it could make a big difference on any campaigns.

Google have indicated that only high-quality meta descriptions will suffice, and it will only be ones with these labels that stand the best chance at showing up higher in the search results. The update or change on this policy has come from the documentation associated with the ‘control of snippets’ in search results. Snippets are those items which show summaries for ranking websites. Often, these snippets are associated with the meta data itself, but they can also come from the content at large.

Good examples of Meta Descriptions

(1) Those which explain the business or overall company, as well as the specific webpage. It can take quite an educated and technical effort, in a reasonably short number of words / characters to be able to achieve both, but the best meta tags will be a blend of these.

(2) Those which use actual quotes or written material from the webpage itself, rather than words, sentences or ideas that are not in that page.

(3) Good meta descriptions are ones which provide specific and detailed information about whatever the page is about – particularly if this is a product or service. This is perhaps one of the most understood points about what the purpose of a meta description actually is.

(4) Summarise the details of the whole of the web page which the description relates to. This is in essence a mixture of points 1 to 3 above.

Bad examples of Meta Descriptions

(1) Stuffing your meta tags with abundant keywords – whilst this can be tempting because you appear to think you are getting ahead or competing with competitors, it is not good practice. What’s more, Google has a good idea of when this has been done, so it is a real no!

(2) Using the same meta description across multiple pages, without little variation based on the specific content of the individual page. To get round this, make sure your descriptions are all unique and targeted.

(3) Length. Most people know that if meta descriptions are too long, they are cut off, which doesn’t exactly give a good impression. Google have also stated that too-short meta descriptions can also be an issue, because they simply lack usable and useful information.

Are your Meta descriptions in good order, or are you worried about your tags or any other aspect of your SEO campaign? Take a look at our SEO section now, to find out what we can do for you.