What it is and how to write it effectively

What is Meta Description? A meta description is a limited-length HTML attribute or tag, usually one or two sentences, designed to provide readers with a concise preview of the content of the web page.

Google uses the content of the meta description tag to generate snippets displayed in SERPs, immediately below the blue link.

It serves to direct a reader from Google’s search results page to our site, being one of the tools to win a click over competitors.

Therefore, we can define meta description as a means to generate click-throughs from search engines, as confirmed by research on CTR and the value of Google rankings.

A preview of text needs to be written well because ignoring or neglecting this important element of a website means missing the opportunity to attract readers and increase the number of online visitors.

If the user is not enticed to click on your page, Google will understand that your page does not meet the user’s search intent and consequently, you will lose positions.

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What is Meta Description

The HTML meta description is a meta tag, an HTML element that provides information about a web page to search engines and users. It is generally a small string of text containing 145 to 160 characters.

Of course, this number can vary depending on the elements included. It is always found below the title tag and from an SEO perspective, it holds a prominent place in ensuring a web page’s online resources succeed on the search engine.

Below is a sample meta description:

meta description example

Is meta description a ranking factor? In 2009, Google officially answered the question by stating that meta keywords and descriptions are not relevant in determining the positioning of a web page.

So, why is meta description important? It is part of all the tools used during SEO optimization of online content but is used as an indirect ranking factor.

It allows internet users to have a small preview of the page’s content when they perform a search on the browser, and its quality plays a fundamental role in attracting CTR.

Meta description aims to bring readers from Google’s SERP to our site’s content. It is one of the tools to win clicks over competitors.


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Consistency of Meta Description

Today, it can be said that the meta description tag adds value to the site, making each link invaluable.

If the user selects that specific result on the search engine results page (SERP), it indicates that the description has fulfilled their search purpose.

Google interprets this factor as an index of consistency between the Query, i.e., the search that a user performs in the search engine, and the content of the page.

The meta description is important for SEO, especially regarding the user, as it can identify all content, and the experience is enhanced based on preferences. It is also a fundamental element for online advertising because it can convince the reader to click on one link over another.

By now, every SEO consultant knows well that it is a fundamental element, and for this reason, many ways have been experimented with to succeed on the web.

Types of Meta Descriptions

Techniques for creating meta descriptions are not the same for all pages, as each one must be unique and contextualized based on the Topic indicated in the content.

Here is a compilation of the frequently utilized ones:

  • Meta description for the home page

The Home Page, being the main page of the site, requires special treatment, and that is why generally, all available characters are used to form a single coherent sentence, reaching the maximum limit of 160 words.

This method is also implemented for company pages that describe the About Us.

  • Meta description for Blog Articles

For articles, a description that doesn’t sound like an advertisement is always required; to learn blogging, we at Digital Coach provide specific and accurate courses that will allow you to acquire the necessary skills to become a successful content creator.

  • Meta description tag for product pages

Useful for online stores, and eCommerce websites that have a page for each product. In this case, it is advisable to pay attention to every single page in detail. Prices or other product-related information can also be included.

How to write an effective Meta Description

What should you refer to when writing a good description? The most important thing is to try to write in a direct, informative, and captivating manner.

The meta description must contain essential information that is relevant and consistent with the reference page, helping the user understand what the page is about and whether it can be useful for their search.

However, writing a meta-description is always very subjective and personal.

write a good description

There isn’t a definite way to do it, but there are 3 essential steps that you cannot overlook if you want to make it effective

  • Identify the focus of your website

The sitemap is the basis for being able to identify the focus of the website and the resources contained in it. If you don’t already have a comprehensive map, it’s time to start creating one.

In short, you need to write down the main focus on which each page requiring a meta description tag is based.

  • Analyze competitors

Finding the uniqueness of your content compared to your competitors allows you to stand out and highlight that extra value of yours.

By using keywords in the meta description, you can attract a more targeted audience to your website. Copying others’ strategies has never taken any website far; originality has always rewarded all businesses.

  • Create a draft

Once you have a clear goal in mind, you are ready to draft your description. At this stage, there’s no need to worry if it’s not a perfect text, as it will be completely revised later.

The important factor is to have a clear focus for your content, and the draft must meet the predefined requirements. After implementing all the tips listed above, it will be much easier to work on how to write a meta description.

Remember that sentences should be written clearly and without repetitions, and in the character count, spaces are also included.

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Best SEO practices

We can consider the meta tag description as a genuine online resource business card. It could be a real setback to see all your efforts go to waste just because it hasn’t been taken care of properly.

Every online content visible on search engines must be meticulously curated, leaving no detail overlooked.

The meta description is the preview of online content. It can pique a user’s curiosity and prompt them to click on the link or make them think it’s not what they’re looking for.

That’s why there are best practices you absolutely must not neglect if you want to be among the most clicked websites.

control the description length

Let’s see what they are:

  • Check the length of the meta description 

How long should a meta description be? There isn’t a strict rule to stand out on the web; however, it’s always advisable to check Google’s results to see that a meta description length of 160 characters is the most commonly encountered.

Sometimes, a very long meta description can also lead the user to get tired, so it must be well-balanced.

In this case, it can be helpful to use a meta description length checker and a meta description checker like Word Counter or SERP Simulator. You must also consider that most Google searches are done from smartphones.

An excessively long description might appear cut off and incomprehensible. For this reason, it’s always a good practice to optimize the length based on the device.

  • Include a call to action

When defining the purpose of the meta description, you must also think of it as an invitation to visit the page. The user must be at the center of your strategic actions.

You must evoke a valid reason for them to click on your result in the SERP. Ensure that the description is enticing and includes a call to action.

The user, reading it, should understand that you have addressed their query and that they can find the answer in your content.

  • Use keywords

Google is more likely to use a keyword if it corresponds to a part of the text in the meta tag description, highlighting it in the search results. This is what makes a web resource recognizable.

Google can also highlight synonyms in a search, making the results stand out even more.

  • Provide specifics

If it’s a meta description for a sales page, you can include a brief technical description of the most important features related to the product or service offered.

  • Clarify the content theme

This feature is very important. Consistency is absolutely crucial. Visitors accessing your page should not feel deceived, as this would result in negative feedback.

Therefore, every meta description inserted must be consistent with the content they will actually find inside the resource.

  • Make the meta description unique

A meta description must be original and unique. It could be a serious penalty for your page to create duplicates of the meta description.

Google performs a search highlighting keywords in the Queries and very often it’s better to leave empty spaces rather than fill them with copied words.

In this case, Google automatically creates a meta description by extracting content from your page.


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Mistakes to avoid in Meta Description structure

Now that you are clear on what a meta description is and have read all the SEO tips for writing it, let’s analyze the mistakes to avoid:

mistakes to avoid in description

  • A vague and overly elaborate meta description prevents the user from having a good user experience. Avoid complex writing.
  • Is the meta description tag very similar to others? Avoid it! Originality always pays off.
  • Avoid writing content that is not coherent or relevant.
  • Don’t forget to include the Keyword in the meta description.
  • Never fall into the realm of boring or banal.
  • Never duplicate a meta description.

How to add Meta Description

Where to add meta description in WordPress? To make the job easier for those with little experience in the field, tools have been introduced, namely tools that are tailored to insert a meta description into your website resources.

The most used plugin is Yoast SEO for WordPress: through this tool, understanding and writing your meta description will be much simpler.

insert description in wordpress

Additionally, you can also use SEO Book, a meta description wp generator, although the risk is that you may get descriptions similar or identical to those who used the same method.

In any case, when relying on external tools, always be careful of potential duplicates.

How to prevent snippet display

There is a way to hide the creation and display of snippets related to your website in search engine results.

To indicate this preference to Google, you must use the following meta tag snippet. Otherwise, you can also choose the maximum length of a snippet using the max-snippet:[number] meta tag.

Why Google rewrites meta descriptions

Google changes title tags and meta descriptions for various reasons. Firstly, because they are duplicated texts (multiple pages have the same content as the title or description).

Other times they are filled with unnecessary keywords especially due to their inadequacy regarding user queries.

This happens due to overly optimized writing, with the intent to insert as many keywords as possible, but also for another reason: the ability to meet the needs of the audience that entered a query.

You might have followed the rules of effective writing, but Google might rewrite it because web pages are not ranked only for one keyword.

If your resource also ranks for a query you hadn’t considered, but the text is present in the content, Google extracts it and uses it to create a new snippet.

This happens quite frequently, Google will take excerpts of text from your resource with the words that match the typed query. Even using different sections separated by ellipses. Keywords that match your search are highlighted in bold.

When not to use a meta tag description

At this point, it might seem counterintuitive to say that sometimes it’s advisable not to use meta tag descriptions for your page.

Generally, all meta descriptions are written with the aim of reaching a very targeted audience and are indeed aimed at all those who search with specific terms.

If, instead, you have a page that caters to a much broader audience, it might be smarter to let the search engine choose your meta description. It will automatically highlight phrases that users are searching for online.

Conclusion and strategic coaching

If you’ve made it this far, you’ll understand that optimizing the meta description can be crucial for your online resources.

For doubts or questions, Digital Coach offers free one-to-one strategic coaching on the topic. Seize the opportunity to improve your website’s positioning.


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