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Description meta tags: still a huge open goal in SEO

I spotted a really good article on description meta tags the other day, which is well worth a read. How to Efficiently Write the Perfect Meta Description on the ahrefs blog reminds us that this important background tag which should be on every web page only appears in the Google results on fewer than 40% of occasions. But remember that’s still enough to mean it’ll be seen a lot more than most bits of marketing collateral we write. It also helps guide Google’s overall contextualisation of the page.

The first thing the article suggests is that the description should expand on and complement the page title. For example, if a page selling blue widgets has a title like ‘Blue Widgets – Fast Delivery and Money-Back Guarantee’, the description might go on to explain the advantages or uniqueness of the delivery offer and the reason the guarantee is made possible.

This should work in conjunction with an understanding of the search intent. If the page is explaining how blue widgets work, it would need a quite different description, assuring the reader that the click on the search result would deliver an attractive explanation.

Generally, an active voice works better: ‘the cat sat on the mat’, rather than ‘the mat was sat on by the cat’. Google itself writes on how the active voice is preferable in technical writing here.

Finally, of course, write to length. You’ve usually got about 160 characters, so don’t bust the limit or your hard work will rarely be seen.