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SEO 411: Do meta descriptions affect page ranking?

Meta descriptions are one of things that are important to SEO but not in the way many think.

The question of whether meta descriptions in search results matters with page ranking, the answer is no, not directly.

When it comes to your ranking goals, your keywords matter in your page title, URL, and in the content on the page, not in your meta description.

Where they do have an impact is on the click rate of your pages on SERPs (search engine results pages).

That click rate affects your pageviews, and bounce rate.

That’s why the quality and accuracy of your description matters.

How to approach your meta descriptions

Think of yours as a kind of tagline that’s written to motivate a user to choose your link on the results page.

Check out the sample description for this article as displayed in its YOAST SEO settings:

yoast seo meta description settings sample

You’ll notice that the description achieves two things: it explains what the link is about and creates a sense of value for the user.

Writing tips

If your meta descriptions have tons of value in helping boost your click rate in SERPs, then the challenge is crafting the right description for your page.

Keep it brief and to the point

You have 160 characters to play with (including spaces) before your description is truncated on search pages, so brevity matters.

Make sure it’s accurate

It should describe what the page is about or what it offers the user. If it doesn’t match what’s actually on the page, have fun seeing your bounce rate start spiking.

Should you use your keyword?

Including your page’s focus keyword won’t help with your ranking like it does with your page titles or content, but you’re welcome to use it provided it’s done naturally.

If you include your keyword hoping it will add more SEO juice for that keyword, fughedabowdit. Ain’t gonna happen.

Use a unique description for each page

If you have multiple pages with the same meta description and happen to have more than one of your pages appear on a SERP, you may confuse users as to which one they should select.

If they choose one and it isn’t the page they wanted, up goes that bounce rate! That may result in them not bothering with your other links and just choose another site from the list of search results.

In that case, you just lost a potential user and maybe a potential customer altogether.

Don’t be afraid to re-write them later

There’s no harm in editing your meta descriptions later on. It wouldn’t be the first thing I’d look at tweaking (your title and content are the real meat ‘n’ taters) but it doesn’t hurt to give it a shot and see if it makes any difference.

Using WordPress? Get YOAST!

If your site’s running on WordPress, then I urge you to install what really is must-have tool for any site owner, especially if SEO is critical to your site’s success.

Download YOAST and check out my article on how to get it up and running on your site.

Have fun!

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