Is Google Using Your Meta Descriptions?
The search engine results have changed a lot over the last few years. Currently, we are in an era where content is king. Search queries are triggering content snippets such as videos, images, answer boxes, paragraph snippets, list snippets, tables, and others over meta descriptions more and more. A recent study was conducted to find out how often Google is using our meta descriptions.
The study evaluated search results for 30,000 keywords and found that Google rewrites meta descriptions for pages over 70% of the time. However, it may not be for the reasons you think.
Volume and Rank Still Matter
The study excluded featured snippets, primarily looking at the first page of organic results. A key takeaway of their findings is that meta description rewrites increased between positions 4 to 6. The top positions are the most competitive as well as have higher click-through-rates. The study speculates this finding may be an effort by Google to boost the relevance of those results and get more users to click before moving onto a different page or new search.
There was also a trend between the amount of meta description rewrites and search volume. Google is less likely to rewrite meta descriptions for queries with higher search volume. If you think about this, it definitely checks out. The higher the search volume, the higher the competition. High volume keywords have a lot more content or new content frequently joining the SERP. The study speculates SEOs going after high volume queries are not specific enough to go after with a single meta description.
You should still be investing time in writing meta descriptions. Whether or not Google is rewriting your page meta description and how often is something you will likely never know. However, it’s important to remember your pages will not have a chance to be in search engine results without optimizing them. So, what can you do? Keep following SEO best practices and review your meta descriptions to make sure they are as great as they can be.
Meta Description Best Practices
When writing meta descriptions, it’s important to follow best practices so you are giving your page all the elements it needs to rank. Because search engines use specific algorithms that are constantly being updated, following meta description best practices will help ensure you are staying up to date with their “rules.” The stronger meta descriptions on your pages also increase the likelihood of a user clicking to your page.
- Include the Keyword you are targeting just like you would in the title tag and on-page copy.
- Make sure they are within the recommended length. Google cuts off descriptions if they are too long. It’s best to keep meta descriptions between 150-160 characters.
- The description should be descriptive, relevant, specific, and completely unique to each page. Duplicate meta descriptions can hurt your SEO.
- Make sure the writing tone matches your brand and how you want to be conveyed online.
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