This is an old question that ponders in every SEO Managers mind. How does meta description affect SEO rankings? That’s why we tested meta descriptions to see how Google’s algorithms handle them.
Our experiments focused on a set of pages that were identical, but one set had optimized meta descriptions while the other had none.
We had an interesting set of results:
- Exact Match Search – when searching for an exact keyword match, non-meta description pages did better.
- Phrase Match Search – with phrase match searches, optimized meta description did better.
If users are searching for exact match keywords, meta description makes no difference. This is because Google algorithms are intelligent enough to analyze optimized page content and use that information.
Recommendations for SEO Managers
Our Recommendation: SEO Managers should continue optimizing meta description to improve SEO rank.
Optimizing meta description casts a wider SEO net. It improves SEO rank for a broader range of keywords.
When this isn’t done, you limit your ranking ability. This is because a majority of users are not exact match searching. They’re more likely to search for keywords in a sentence or with qualifying keywords.
Meta Description Optimization Tips
Now that we know SEO managers should optimize meta description tags, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Mention Target Keyword
Optimize meta descriptions by mentioning the target keyword. Hone in on what your target users are searching for, and build content around it.
The Earlier the Better
Mentioning the target keyword is best practice number one. Now take things one step further – mention the target keyword early in the description. This will grab the searcher’s attention quick, giving you higher CTRs.
Not too Short, Not too Long
Keep meta descriptions to two short sentences that accurately describe the page. We recommend 140 characters, about as a long as a tweet.
Optimizing Meta Descriptions
Optimizing meta descriptions is an SEO practice to keep with. While not optimizing meta descriptions won’t hurt your SEO ranking (if you’ve optimized the rest of your page well), you may miss out on phrase and broad match search types.
Optimize page descriptions moving forward, and see how SEO-friendly they are with the SEO Grader Tool.