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Are Meta Descriptions A Ranking Factor?

One of the most coveted pieces of real estate for businesses and marketers throughout the world is a spot on the first page of Google’s search results. After all, Google has the lion’s share of the search engine industry, with a staggering 92%.

AJ Blog Graphics - Global Searches Jan 2023

It’s clear that Google’s standards when it comes to awarding high search engine rankings have changed over time. And as the algorithm has evolved, so have the strategies employed by digital marketing companies to stay one step ahead. In this respect, the meta description is widely regarded as one of the most confusing components of Google’s ranking algorithm.

In this article, we will define meta descriptions and answer the question “are meta descriptions a ranking factor?” We'll also talk about the top 3 ranking factors to help you get found for important search terms in organic search results.



Meta Description Defined

A meta description is an HTML attribute that summarizes the type of content you'll find on the webpage. To help users understand how the website content corresponds to their search query, search engine results pages (SERPs) provide bits of text called “search snippets,” which include the meta description tag of the corresponding page.

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Which one of these links would you click on based on the meta description?

Do Meta Descriptions Affect Ranking?

To clarify whether a meta description might affect SEO rankings, Google’s John Mueller said:

“So, the meta description is primarily used as a snippet in the search results page. And that’s not something that we would use for ranking. But obviously, having a good snippet on a search results page can make it more interesting for people to actually visit your page when they see your page ranking in the search results.”

Translation? Well-crafted meta descriptions will play a part not so much as ranking factors but can be seen more as an additional user behavior signal and make potential customers want to click into your webpage.

AJ Blog Graphics - Google CTR by position

Why Are Meta Descriptions Important?

Even though search engines no longer directly factor meta descriptions into their ranking algorithms, getting the meta description right might increase click-through rates, which is an important ranking factor.

Even though meta descriptions are only shown 37% of the time on average, it’s still worthwhile to write a click-worthy meta description that is both relevant and captivating in order to attract clicks. According to research analyzing five million Google search results, meta descriptions result in an average 5.8% increase in clicks.



How To Write an Excellent Meta Description

So, now that we know their importance, how can you develop an excellent meta description? Following these guidelines is a good place to start:

Use No More Than 155 Characters

Google's search listings will only display a part of your meta description in the search engine results pages. To be more specific, typically, only the first 155 characters will be displayed. That’s why you should limit your meta descriptions to no more than 155 characters, or else they will be truncated.

In a study, 41% of 192,656 individual page descriptions were found to be excessively long. And new data from Portent reveals that Google is rewriting meta descriptions more than 70% of the time.

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Depict the Content of Your Webpage Accurately

Your meta description should be a true reflection of the page it is associated with. Users should be able to quickly grasp the valuable content provided on the website. This ensures that your users have a seamless transition from the search engine results page to your landing page.

Raise Interest

The meta description shouldn’t give away too much information. They should include just enough information to signal page relevance without giving too much away so that people will want to click on your webpage.

Descriptions Should Be Unique To Individual Pages

The meta descriptions for each page on your site should be written specifically for that page. This is crucial in search engine results pages where numerous pages from your site appear. If you have duplicate meta descriptions on multiple pages, you are wasting potential click-throughs by not providing a distinct description for each.

AJ Blog Graphic - Duplicate Content

Google is looking for unique content that is relevant and helps the user. Duplicate content should be avoided at all costs.

Do Meta Descriptions Need Keywords?

We can think of the meta description as a promotional copy. Getting people to click through from the results page is a crucial aspect of search engine optimization. That’s why it’s essential for meta descriptions to make use of the target keywords in a way that sounds natural and avoids coming off as spammy.

What Is the Difference Between Meta Keywords and Meta Descriptions?

Keywords used to highlight specific phrases inside a webpage’s content are called meta keyword tags, and they are inserted into a web page’s HTML code. The meta description tag, on the other hand, provides a brief synopsis of the page’s contents. Both of these tags, which are classified as “meta tags,” are essential for a website’s visibility in search engines since they contain metadata.



What Are the Top 3 Ranking Factors?

The best way to improve your SEO performance on Google is to first understand what factors Google uses to rank websites:

Optimization for Mobile Devices

As of the last quarter of 2021, mobile devices were responsible for 54.4% of all internet traffic worldwide. Most consumers who access the internet via a mobile device have come to assume that any site they visit would look and function correctly on their devices. Therefore, making your site mobile-friendly is so crucial to your site’s success in Google’s search results. If your site is not optimized for mobile devices, Google will penalize you.

High-quality Content

There’s an adage that goes, “content is king.” Quality content is a significant aspect of Google’s ranking algorithms. Unique, recently published, and user-friendly content will earn you better SEO rankings on Google. No matter how much you optimize your website, if the content isn’t good, you won’t rise in the search engine ranks.


Not having any inbound links is the primary reason why over 90% of web pages never get any visitors. In addition, links continue to play a significant role in SEO and their value in Google search results. All types of links — internal links, outbound links, and inbound links — contribute to your site’s ranking since they demonstrate its value and boost your site’s authority.


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The Bottomline

In many cases, a user’s first impression of your website will be based on the meta description. Although they are not considered a ranking factor by Google, they can still influence your website’s performance. When written in a way that considers user search behavior and search engine optimization, these descriptions can encourage people to click on your site.

In case you’re interested in having your website evaluated in light of Google’s ranking factors, you can schedule a free consultation with Agency Jet today.