How to use meta descriptions to drive website traffic

They may be short, but meta descriptions offer an important opportunity to drive organic traffic to your website. Here is a quick look at meta descriptions and a few tips on writing ones that work..

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What are meta descriptions?

A meta description is simply a short summary of a website’s content. You see these snippets displayed on the list of search results, underneath the page title and the link. The length of these descriptions varies, with Google recently increasing and then decreasing the length of the snippets displayed. These short descriptions are important as they offer an opportunity to help potential visitors decide whether to click on to your website.

Tips for writing effective meta descriptions

The first thing to appreciate is that meta descriptions do not affect your search engine rankings. However, they still have an important role to play in your online marketing strategy. When writing meta descriptions, remember they should be concise and compelling. In fact, you can think of meta descriptions as snippets of advertising copy aimed at encouraging people to click through to the webpage. Even though the descriptions are not picked up by Google’s algorithms, keywords are highlighted in bold within the text. When it comes to length, a general rule of thumb is to keep your descriptions between about 50 and 160 characters. It is also important that each meta description is unique.

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Meta descriptions are actually HTML attributes, so it’s best practice to avoid using non-alphanumeric characters. For example, inserting a quote mark will cause Google to cut the description off at that point. One word of warning is that if Google doesn’t think your description accurately describes your page content, it may take it upon itself to replace your meta description text with a summary taken directly from your webpage. So, make sure your meta description matches the search engine query submitted by the user. Of course, if you use professional London SEO services, such as those offered by, you can get help with writing meta descriptions that work to maximise targeted web traffic.

While it’s easy to overlook meta descriptions, by putting some effort into writing these short snippets, you are giving yourself the best chance of not just being found but also encouraging users to click on that link and visit your website.


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