Google shares 4 examples of how to improve a meta description

Google’s help document on controlling your snippets in search results has added some examples of “bad” and “better” meta descriptions. 

The bad. Google advises avoiding these four types of “bad” meta descriptions:

  • List of keywords: “Sewing supplies, yarn, colored pencils, sewing machines, threads, bobbins, needles”
  • Same description used for every news article: “Local news in Whoville, delivered to your doorstep. Find out what happened today.”
  • Doesn’t summarize the page: “Eggs are a source of joy in everyone’s life. When I was a small child, I remember picking eggs from the hen house and bringing them to the kitchen. Those were the days.”
  • Too short: “Mechanical pencil

The better. Google’s examples of better meta descriptions:

  • Explains what the shop sells and details like opening hours and location. “Get everything you need to sew your next garment. Open Monday-Friday 8-5pm, located in the Fashion District.”
  • Use a snippet from the specific news article: “Upsetting the small town of Whoville, a local elderly man steals everyone’s presents the night before an important event. Stay tuned for live updates on the matter.”
  • Summarize the whole page: “Learn how to cook eggs with this complete guide in 1 hour or less. We cover all the methods, including: over-easy, sunny side up, boiled, and poached.”
  • Are specific and detailed. “Self-sharpening mechanical pencil that autocorrects your penmanship. Includes 2B auto-replenishing lead. Available in both Vintage Pink and Schoolbus Yellow. Order 50+ pencils, get free shipping.”

The updated document. Google published its documentation on controlling your snippets in search results in October. You can see all the new additions, here.

Why we care. While there is nothing earth-shattering and this is mostly just basic SEO, it’s good to see Google provide some more specific guidance on how to create helpful and descriptive meta descriptions that are more likely to get clicks and traffic. Not that we can ever count on Google to use those meta descriptions, of course.

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About The Author

Danny Goodwin is Managing Editor of Search Engine Land & SMX. In addition to writing daily about SEO, PPC, and more for Search Engine Land, Goodwin also manages Search Engine Land’s roster of subject-matter experts. He also helps program our conference series, SMX – Search Marketing Expo. Prior to joining Search Engine Land, Goodwin was Executive Editor at Search Engine Journal, where he led editorial initiatives for the brand. He also was an editor at Search Engine Watch. He has spoken at many major search conferences and virtual events, and has been sourced for his expertise by a wide range of publications and podcasts.

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