The meta description is the summary of the content in less than 160 characters written with an intention to drive clicks from organic SERP.
SEO is an ever-changing, and meta description has been an inevitable part of it. Thankfully it isn’t wholly irrelevant yet in 2019. However, search engines don’t use meta description in their rank algorithm.
Even though search engines deny taking meta description into account, it’s still an essential aspect of SEO best practices.
So, let’s understand a little more about meta descriptions.
What is a Meta Description?
The meta description is a snippet of up to 155 characters – a tag in HTML that summarizes page’s content.
Meta means data about the content. So meta description is the description of the page in a nutshell.
To put it from a search engine point of views, it’s merely a small content to convince a user to click the link. It appears under a site’s title in the search result pages.
Here is how it looks in search results.
The above images show meta descriptions of my blog BizTips homepage and Upwork proposal template page. It’s a small textual content to show visitors what’s inside the page before they click the link.
The purpose is quite clear now – to get the visitor to click the result in Google search pages. In almost 155 characters give a sneak peek of the page.
What if there’s no Meta Description?
In the absence of custom meta descriptions, the search engines will randomly create it for a user from the relevant text on the page for the search query. Refer to the image below.
In the above example, the meta description is absent or at least isn’t related to the search term.
Typically the text is followed by dots at the end. Bottom line, it sounds kind of incomplete with near to exact information.
Writing the Meta Description
Writing meta description even make sense in 2019. I strongly advocate writing them for every single page.
Google SERP shows description related to the user’s search term crafted from the content of the page. However, if the description is highly relevant, it even shows it as well.
So here are some points to consider when writing descriptions.
- Limited to 155-160 Characters – Ideally, it must be 155-160 characters long or a bit more sometimes. The point is to convey the crux of the webpage. Do not make it too much longer, or else it will follow with dots. Include relevant search term at least once throughout the texts.
- Make it Actionable – The description must convey the message and tell the user what needs to be done. Of course, the main aim is to make a visitor click and bring him/her to the webpage.
- Include Call-to-Action Phrases – As I said earlier, the meta description acts as a space to make your sales pitch and convince users to click. Consider the content of the page as a product to the visitor. Inviting click for more, learn more, get it now, try for free or click to read works well.
- Must Contain the Focus Keyword – If a keyword is in the description and a search query matches the keyword, then the search engine will highlight it. One of the main reason to add a focus keyword in the meta description. Moreover, it is why I advise writing custom meta for each webpage.
- Add Meta Description for Every Page – Often people want to have an optimized title and description only for the home page. It is completely wrong. Your every inner page should have a meta description. If you don’t consider the page to be ranking in Google, they can omit the meta description – pages like contact pages. However, I still prefer to provide a meta description for them as well.
How to Add Meta Description in WordPress?
Adding Meta Description Using Yoast SEO
Assuming that you have already installed the Yoast plugin. Head over to the Yoast SEO tab to access the snippet preview. Refer to the image below:
Now click edit snippet to open the snippet editor. See below image.
In the meta description space, add the content and click close snippet editor. It’s pretty easy. Besides, the best part is yet to come.
While using this tool, the user need not worry about the length of the meta description because it indicates the length with two colors – Green and Orange.
It will be green if the description is under the minimum required length. But if texts or characters exceed the bar will turn orange. The benchmark is to keep the progress bar always in green color. Refer to the image below.
So, that’s the beauty of using the Yoast SEO plugin. Beyond meta description, Yoast also offers readability analysis of the content, focus keyphrase insertion, and internal linking of page or posts.
12 Examples of Popular Brands & Their Meta Description
Now that you know the character length of a meta description, imagine how famous brands have perfectly nailed it. Here are some examples.
Using just 22 words, WPBeginner tells the visitor who they are, what they provide, and what users can expect when they visit the site.
Social Media Examiner
Social media examiner has come up with a good sales pitch. It directly addresses the pain points like connecting with customers, awareness, and sales. And all that within just 160 characters!
We have already discussed relevancy in title and description. Here’s what enchanting marketing has done it. Moreover, the text provides a clear explanation of what it is offering. They have used words like YOU and YOUR to add a personal touch.
Less is more! Not only blogging, but Problogger is a Pro when it comes to amazing the visitor. It is easy for anyone to tell what this is about. Strategic placements of popular terms like blog, money, and blogging are enough to attract clicks.
This one is straight to the point, short, and provides value. The text here clearly explains what visitors can expect when they click the link.
Facebook aces the art of pitching by using actionable words like create, connect, share, send, and get. How a user needs to act upon.
The first few words clearly explain what a user is looking at. Whereas the rest of the phrase describes real-time actions using Adidas products.
It’s simple, adheres to the brand value and matches with what YouTube promises to deliver a user. Now, who would resist to click after reading videos and music?
Twitter has covered a wide range of categories in just 160 characters. The social app is tempting users to click whatever their topic is because they have covered everything.
For a website like Wikipedia that is an online encyclopedia, it manages to explain what it offers to the visitors.
I am an avid Netflix fan, and I know what it offers to its viewers. The description above conveys visitor that a massive dose of entertainment is on its way if they click through.
The meta title is short, just the abbreviation. Using the full form would cut the meta title. ISRO has expertise in explaining complex topics quickly. Once again, they have used only 14 words.
Meta descriptions may not significantly impact page ranking in search results, but they certainly entice users to click the link.
Hence, writing creative and inviting meta descriptions must be a priority while doing the webpage SEO.