How to Write Meta Descriptions for SEO and Google

How to Write Meta Descriptions for SEO and Google

Do you want the ugly truth about SEO?

Well, you can spend time you don’t have writing meta descriptions Google will never use.

It happens all of the time. In a sense, Google needs to mind its own business and use your meta descriptions if you write them. After all, it’s your website that it’s indexing. But Google does call the shots and we’re kind of beholden to the whims or calculated plans of the King of Search.

So why won’t Google use publish your meta description handiwork? It’s a little complicated and Google doesn’t exactly share much of what it does.

Google seems to ignore your meta descriptions when it’s disappointed with your effort. How so? Well, Google changes the standards for how long the descriptions should be. Sometimes it’s 150 characters or so. Another day it’s more than 250. One day, it might be that Google is testing a change. Another week, Google will make a change without telling anyone. Eventually, there is a new best practice for meta descriptions and SEO.

Let’s assume it’s at least 150 characters (including spaces). If your meta descriptions average 110 characters (plus those spaces), maybe Google will call your approach less than adequate like you’re not using enough space to convey the website content. My guess is that is another trigger that infuriates Google. Maybe infuriates is strong language for technology. Somehow, Google knows when you have many short or missing meta descriptions, so it goes into action and decides what meta description to share with searchers.

Does it write one on the fly? Not really. Google just grabs any text from your website and displays that portion or a mashup.

In the end, you get a meta description you never needed to create. If you skipped the meta description when making the page, you didn’t lose any time. But if you wrote one that Google ignored, Google will never repay you for the time you wasted.

Moz offers a good tutorial on meta descriptions:

Google offers some tips in its Search Console Help Center, but it doesn’t provide many useful examples of good meta descriptions (not on this page):

Here are some good practices for meta descriptions and SEO:

1. Include a call to action, especially at the beginning. Or, ask a question to catch the attention of a searcher.
2. Mention your company name.
3. Work in a couple of keyword phrases (Google will boldface them when they match the search query).

Here’s one example of a solid meta description that Google actually uses (140 characters):

Discover the accounting, tax, audit and consulting services offered to individuals and companies in Cleveland – Rea CPA – Cleveland CPA Firm.

Without a meta description, anything can happen when Google invents one from the content like:

How to use meta descriptions for your website and SEO.

Learn More

When (& When Not) to Write Meta Descriptions