A meta description for a web page is the information that appears about that particular page in search results. Looking at the pic above, the text you can see that describes what the page is about is the meta description.
In this case, Yoast describes what a meta description is, where it shows and moves on from there.
Meta Descriptions are a contributing factor in your website's SEO. Google uses the information provided in the Meta Description to establish that page's relevance to the search term used by their clients. However, its not just the SEO factor that is important, the meta description is where you get a chance to convince potential clients that YOU are the best option for whatever it is they are looking for.
Some Q & A's About Meta Descriptions
How Do I Access My Meta Descriptions?
Usually your website developer will either ask for the text you wish to use for each page of your website, or they may develop that meta description as part of their service. I tend to write meta descriptions as a free service to my clients to start and then once their website is up and running, they can send me the text they would like if they want to change it.
Meta Descriptions appear in the <head> tag of your website page and unless your website is completely coded from scratch, there is usually an area in the page settings for your meta description.
How should I word my Meta Description?
I always suggest to clients that this is their one chance to convince possible clients to click through to their website. That's not entirely true, it's not your only chance, but that usually stresses how important meta descriptions can be. People are very busy in today's world and most tend to just scan through for something that peaks their interest so using relevant keywords is vital. What is also vital however is that it reads well (as a sentence not just a list of words) and accurately explains what is on that web page. Google will pitch a fit if you try to direct traffic to your website that has no relevance to your content, and trust me you never want Google deciding you aren't doing the right thing. So well formatted sentence using keywords relevant to that page (not generic words for your website) directed toward what you consider to be your perfect client.
Can I just repeat the first paragraph of my page?
In a word - NO! Consider this, your meta description is not only a paragraph that could drive traffic to your website, its also one part of your SEO for that page. So if you repeat your first paragraph that is diluting your SEO actions because you are using the same keywords, the same phrases and the same content so instead of getting two bites at the apple, you are only getting one. A meta description while used for your clients, is another chance to reinforce to Google that your content is extremely relevant to this search term. If both your first paragraph and your meta description use similar phrases and repeat some (not all) keywords, Google considers that a double whammy and slides you up the list.
What if I don't add a Meta Description?
Google will grab the first paragraph from your page and use that as the meta description. See - it's important you do your meta descriptions.
How long should it be?
Google upgraded the length of meta descriptions from 170 characters to 320 in around November 2017. However, just to ensure we don't get too comfortable they recently went back to the 155-170 character range. There is no technical length, however keeping to around 170 characters will ensure your meta description isn't cut off.
What should I prioritize?
Anyone who has spent any time working on improving their website ranking will know the phrase "Content is King". That is true - Google does have it perched firmly on the throne right next to "Solid SEO" on the left and "Link Master" on the right, however bad content won't necessarily help your SEO.
Google is smart. They've been doing this a long time and have had exposure to every trick in the book that has been used for the sole purpose of increasing your websites exposure.
They are so smart in fact that they often know what your visitors are looking for even before you do. That seems somewhat scary at first, however when you really think about it, embracing this concept and putting yourself in the shoes of your visitor will enable you to create content that keeps Google blissfully happy.
They are not the big bad SEO monster - they are in business just like you. Their business is showing their clients the best possible results for their searches. That means that they will never put one of your posts at the top of that search, UNLESS - it, along with the rest of your website meets the clients expectations.
Content must do these 4 things:
Content that is blatently self serving won't help you acheive that.
Content that is stuffed with what you consider to be keywords - again, won't help you acheive that
Content that is posted at an over zealous rate won't help you do that - UNLESS its crisp, quality content.
A huge quantity of content, if its hastily written and has no value won't do you any good, so its entirely possible that you've spent your weekends writing, writing, writing for no benefit.
The Key (ignoring the pun) Is Consistency
Take the following steps into account when you are assembling your content.
Chrome is my browser of choice. Primarily I must admit its because Google drives so much of my daily work, however I like it better than Edge, and about the same as Firefox. So Chrome it is.
One of the best things about Chrome is the extensions you can add. Over the next few weeks I'm going to share my favourite extensions and why they are my faves. Some may be suitable for you, some may not, however I'm sure you will find at least a few great ones in the mix.
What Are Google Chrome Extensions?
Chrome Extensions are little tools that you add to your browser that enable you to take actions on or within the browser environment.
You add them simply and start using them straight away. They are like Apps for Chrome I guess.
What Is Keywords Everywhere?
Keywords everywhere is a great little tool that enables you to see the Cost Per Click (or CPC) for every search term you enter into google. Cool huh?
Not only can you see the current CPC, however you can see the search volume for the term and also the competition rate. I realise that sounds confusing however let me explain:
Search Volume: this is the average number of searches for this term per month (usually averaged over the last 12 months). So if this says 40/mth that means that on average this exact search term is searched for 40 times per month.
CPC: this is the current cost per click that advertisers are paying for one click on this keyword in Google Adwords.
Competition: this is a number between 0-1 that tells you the number of advertisers that have ads with Google Adwords for this specific search term. 0 signifies a low number of advertisers and 1 signifies a lot of advertisers.
Check out the image below. I've used a search term that applies to my husbands business, mostly because he works in a very niche market so the volume and advertisers will be low.
You can see that the volume is 40/mo - which means that on average only 40 people globally search for this term every month. The CPC is $1.53 and the competition is 0.94 So a decent score which would indicate that there are more than a few advertisers using this term in Google Adwords.
Now compare this search term.
You can see that over ninety thousand people searched for womens shoes on average a month. OK so I'm probably 1000 of those, but even so you can see its a very popular search term. You can see that the cost per click is only 97c but the competition is 1 - which means that a lot of people are using this term in Google Adwords.
How Do I Get It?
Visit Keywords Everywhere and then click the "Install For Chrome" button and follow the prompts.
Once it is installed you can save your search terms as favourites and then monitor them by clicking on the icon. To save just click on the tiny star after the competition number. Easy peasy....
SEO can seem ridiculously confusing, make you beleive you have no real concept of ROI and worst of all, make it very hard to see value for money.
Fortunately, there are HEAPS of free SEO resources out there and lots you can do yourself, for free that will enhance your websites search engine optimisation.
Below I've listed some easy to do, no cost actions you can address on your website to help you improve your SEO visibility via your images.
Every time you add an image to ANY page of your website you should consider how it can help you. Sure, if it's a product image, it has to be a consistent theme to the rest of your website, clear, concise and be a correct representation of that product.
What is can also be is a great tool to attract your ideal target market to your website.
CHALLENGE: Google can't read images. Sure you can find other instances of an image on the web via Google, but an image by default has no text. Because of this, its VERY important how you treat any and all images on your website.
Search engines get the info from your images by reading:
For example: I'm looking for a 'boho crochet top' for a Christmas party (remembering Christmas is very hot here in Australia). For Google to show me an image related to my search it has to somehow know that image on your website is of a crochet boho top right? So its up to you to give Google this info and the easiest way to do this is these three easy steps below.
1: Name Your Images
So you may have three different tops that match that description on your website but they don't show up in any search - because - they don't have any text related to that image identifying them with that search.
RESOLUTION: Name your images carefully keeping in mind, what clients may search for and how specific you want to get with your descriptions.
ACTIONS: Before you even attempt to upload any image to your website, make sure it has the best possible image name.
2: Give Your Images Captions
Captions are another way to enforce what your image is about and how that is relevant to your clients Google Search.
RESOLUTION: Give your images a meaningful caption that is short and to the point. Think about how your client may possibly find you and use those search terms (in a logical way) in your image caption.
ACTIONS: ASAP on upload, edit your image and add the caption you have decided on. Its very simple and easy to do it now but its mind numbingly boring to go through your entire website at a later date to do hundreds of images. Make this part of your image upload habits.
EXCEPTIONS: There are occasions where a caption on your image doesn't jell with your layout, theme or style. If that is the case, don't be scared to leave it off. While ideally you want all three characteristics of your image to be covered, if you are missing a caption, but overall are impressing clients with your design, don't stress over it.
3: Set Your Alt Tags
An 'ALT tag' is shorthand text we use to refer to the ALT attribute within in the image.
ALT tags are used with screed readers to explain to sight disabled clients what this image represents. Its also a great way to (again) reinforce what this image represents to Google.
Using best practices on your website and including ALT tags on all your images will mean your website has a strong accesability factor.
ALT tags are NOT visible so you don't have to worry about moving your image or compromising your design.
How To Set Image Tags
This step assumes you use Weebly as your website platform, html is shown below.
The HTML Way To Set Alt Tags On Your Images
If your website is hard coded HTML you will need to adjust the code behind your image to set your ALT Tag.
This is the html you image will use:
<img src="myImage.jpg" alt="This is your ALT Tag text"> (There may be other attributes used in the tag)
NB: if you are fairly new to html remember that the <img> tag in html is one of the few tags that is self closing.
IE: This tag <html></html> you can see is actually two parts, the open tag "<html>" and the close tag "</html>"
The image tag won't work this way. It closes itself. So you open the tag like this "<img" apply your image attributes here and then to close the tag its simply a ">".
You can't open and close an image tag like this "<img></img>" It won't work.
Small business owner, web developer and programmer.
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