What Is a Meta Description Plus Examples for Creating Your Own
Meta description. It sounds like something from another dimension. But actually, it’s super simple. A meta description is the approximately 160 character summary that appears below your URL on a search engine or anywhere that your website is shared. It’s a short depiction of what appears on your web page so searchers know what to expect when they click through to your site.
Once you’ve created your website, the next necessary course of action is to make sure that people can find it. One of the simplest and most essential ways to make this happen is with meta descriptions. This practice is important for all types of business, whether you have an online store, blog or photography website.
This article will help you dive into exactly how to write meta descriptions, optimize their length and include them in your HTML. It will also cover how they can help you get more potential users clicking through to your site and show you some examples of other meta descriptions out there.
What is a meta description?
As you now know, meta descriptions are those short descriptions of websites that you see under Google results or social shares. But how do they get there? Meta tags, or SEO title tags and descriptions, are essentially the text that you include in your site code letting search engines know how you want to appear in search results.
However, like everything in life, it's not that simple. Google can decide to either take the meta descriptions that you have written, or to ignore them and choose what to display in their results based on the content of your page.
Do not let this discourage you though. It is still well worth it to include a meta title and description in your code because there is a good chance Google will use it. And by including it, you enable yourself to be in control of the first content many users see regarding your page.
How to add meta descriptions
In order to get your meta descriptions showing, you will need to embed them into the backend of your website. If you have built your website from scratch yourself, you can easily add them to your HTML. To do so, add a meta tag to your head section as follows:
<meta name=“description” content=“insert your meta description here”/>
If you’ve built your website with a website builder like Wix, adding meta descriptions is even simpler. Just follow these steps to add or change your meta description:
Enter the editor of the desired web page.
Click Menus & Pages on the left-hand side.
Click the Show More icon next to the relevant page.
Click SEO (Google).
Enter the desired description under “What’s the page about? Add a description.”
Click Publish at the top right corner of your editor.
Optimal meta description length
Now that you know how to include meta descriptions in your web pages, it is essential to consider the length of your meta descriptions. Technically speaking, there is no character limit and you can include as much detail as you’d like.
However, search engines do not have space to include all of your text. They are trying to provide many potential results to the user’s query and so there is limited space on any given results page. Therefore, Google usually truncates descriptions at around 160 characters.
That being said, you want to make sure to utilize the space that is being given to you and to properly describe your web page. Ideally aim to have your descriptions somewhere between 100-160 characters in length.
Why do meta descriptions matter?
While adding meta tags is often thought of as an SEO related task, they don’t seem to have any direct impact on search engine rankings. However, they do still have a significant, indirect SEO impact, which is why they are considered among the best SEO tips to boost your website.
By crafting great meta description copy, you can enhance the click-through rate on your site’s search engine result. The more people who choose to click on your site over other sites on the result page, the better your chances of ranking higher. Google notices that your result is matching what users are searching for and therefore bumps your result up.
The other advantage of meta descriptions is that they are essentially free, organic ad copy. Unlike advertising on Google, meta descriptions provide you with a way to promote your website for free. This is a place where you can take up real-estate on Google and can potentially have some control over how your website is represented. It is also the first thing that thousands of searchers will see about your site. Because Google is such a massive platform, the potential for bringing in extra visitors is huge. Needless to say, it is well worth it to think about what you want to include in your meta descriptions.
How to write meta descriptions effectively
Just as with writing ad copy, when writing meta descriptions you should think about how to accurately portray your product or service, while also enticing searchers to click on your site. However, you have to do this cautiously. Searchers and Google alike are expecting to see an authentic portrayal of your web page. Make sure that you are being honest and describing the actual content of your website. This will help users know what they are about to receive and reduce the amount of users who quickly click back to the search results, rather than dwelling on your page.
In order to entice your readers without being overly pushy, consider a couple of key factors. Firstly, do some market research to pinpoint your unique value over your competition. Explaining clearly what you have to offer that others do not is truthful and gives searchers a reason to choose you. Also, consider adding a word (but nothing too long) about low prices if relevant. A reader always wants to know that they will receive a fair deal.
Another important aspect to consider is keyword insertion. If you haven’t done so already, conduct some keyword research for your site. This process will help you identify the main words or phrases that people use when searching for a website like yours. There are plenty of keyword research tools to help you along the way.
You’ll want to include your keyword in your meta description for a couple of reasons:
Using your top keyword in your meta description is an easy way to ensure that you are accurately describing the content of your page.
Search engines often highlight the search term inside of the results it shows. By using the proper keywords, your result is more likely to include those highlighted search terms, and therefore more likely to stand out.
Meta description examples
Nothing can truly explain what makes for a successful meta description quite like looking at some examples. Here are a few meta description examples along with notes about what makes them effective and how they can potentially improve.
PetSmart does a great job of explaining their offering clearly, helping the searcher know what to expect when they click through. The description is also written in the third person, which helps make them seem more objective. However, the answer is truncated, not letting the searcher see all of the information they wish to provide.
02. Compare the Market
Compare the Market clearly presents their value in their meta description. A searcher can understand what they are about to encounter with their site and can see why their service might be beneficial over others. But like in the example above, the answer is truncated, detracting from the overall value of the description. It is also written in first person which gives a more subjective feel to the description.
Amazon does a great job at describing their product categories. This assures the user that they will find what they are looking for if they click through. They also express their “low prices” enticing a searcher to choose them over one of their competitors. On the other hand, the description would likely read more smoothly if it were a bit less repetitive.
This meta description for a Wix blog post does a great job of incorporating keywords. It also dives right into the answer, letting searchers know that this page will provide a response to their question. However, like some of the descriptions above, the answer is truncated, leaving searchers hoping for more.
05. Perfect Daily Grind
Perfect Daily Grind clearly expresses the relevant question in the title and then begins to provide an answer in the description. This is a great tactic for showing what content your page truly provides. However, the answer that is provided in this description is not something that clearly explains how to brew coffee. It could potentially be enhanced by answering the question more directly.
By applying these pros and cons to your meta description writing process, you’ll be writing stellar descriptions for all of your web pages in no time.
By Amanda Weiner
Content Optimization Specialist