As shown below a search engine result is made up of three different elements:
The URL of of the page
The title of the page
The meta description
Meta descriptions are our opportunity to tell Google what content should appear below the title of a page on a Search Engine Result Page (SERP). It is both a change to encourage a user to click on our listing over the listing of others and also an opportunity to provide Google with information about what the page is about.
Most SEO experts now believe that Meta Descriptions are not a ranking factor for Google, in other words having a meta description will not impact how well your page ranks for a particular keyword term. However they are still really important as a well written meta description will impact how likely someone is to click on your listing which in turn will impact your click through rate.
In my opinion saying that Meta Descriptions are not a ranking factor is a little misleading. Yes it is not possible to draw a straight line between having one and an increase in how well your page ranks for a search term but it is an excellent opportunity to provide google with information about what your page is about and to also further emphasize what your site is about. Having meta descriptions for all of the pages on your site shows Google that your site is well maintained and collectively they inform Google’s understanding of your site. They can be particularly important for pages that have little text content on them as a way of informing Google’s understanding of the page.
All of that being said, do not write a meta description for the machine, write it for the user who will eventually read it.
Top Tips on writing a Meta Description
The optimal length is between 50 and 160 characters. Google will not show anything longer than this. However Google will use your content in lots of different cut down ways in different circumstances so the focus should be on the quality rather than length of description.
Keep the meta description unique to the page you are writing it for we don’t want Google to think that the page contains the same content as another page on your site or another website.
Include the main keyword for the page as Google will bold this in search results but don’t cram in the term multiple times.
Including a Call to action can be a good way of encouraging people to click.
Using Yoast on WordPress can be a great way to preview what your Meta Description will look like to an end user and whether it is too long or short.
Make sure that the description makes grammatical sense and uses whole sentences.
Don’t use double quotation marks as you will screw up the code on your site.