A meta description is a type of meta tag used in HTML to describe what the web page is about. It appears as a quick snippet on the SERPs right beneath the link.
Meta descriptions are not a ranking factor per se, as they have a very minimal impact on rankings, though they may have some impacts with personalized search results. Their main function is telling searchers what your web page is about. Having compelling meta descriptions aids in the click-through rate to your site. Think of your meta descriptions as a sales pitch for searchers, not as ranking factors for crawlers.
You can leverage your meta description so that it’s far more attractive to click on than other results. You want to steal traffic and maintain your own!
How to write an optimal meta description?
Always keep in mind that the main point of the meta description is to describe to searchers what your web page is about in a way that entices them to click. Think: is my meta description more attractive for searchers than the other sites on the same page?
Make sure each page gets a meta description relevant to that page. There’s a reason you created a different pages for your site: they all serve a different purpose. Use the meta description to convey that to the searchers.
Be specific with your meta descriptions. Searchers want to know exactly what they’ll get when they click into your site; there’s no point in writing deceptive or cryptic meta descriptions. If you do, that’ll just be terrible for your bounce rate, which is bad for your SEO.
Any keyword that searchers type in will be bolded in the meta description if you include it there. Do research on which keywords are ranking for different SERPs links, and see what your competitors are doing. This can be done easily with a SERP Link report in Positionly. With the proper use of the correct keywords in your meta description, the bolding will draw searchers’ attention to your site.
Remember to not over stuff keywords because this will reduce the quality of the content in your meta description, and it won’t boost your rankings anyway- you will only be turning off potential visitors (which can hurt your rankings later).
It is recommended meta descriptions to not exceed 155 characters. This is because Google has a limit of 156, Yahoo has 161, and Bing has 150 characters that they display on the SERPs. It is advantageous to write as much as possible without exceeding the limit, so that you may fully utilize the space you’re given. That being said, don’t use “fluff” words just to pad your meta description. If it’s noticeably under the limit but you think it will be effective and can get the point across, go for it! Always build it with the user experience in mind.
Think of what constitutes a winning sales pitch. First and foremost, they are able to quickly convey a solution or benefit to potential customers - so do the same! Show searchers the value of your site in 160 characters or less. You can also try adding some action verbs, like “discover” or “create”, that shows the viewers what they can do once they enter the site. This acts as a sort of call-to-action for the searcher.
If you can deliver a better sales pitch than the other guys, you’ll get the sales. Good luck!