Learn SEO: The Meta Description

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The meta description tag is an HTML element used to describe a web page. Meta descriptions appear after the Title and URL within the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) and do not help a website’s ranking ability but significantly affect click-through rates (CTRs).

<meta name="description" content="Explore the world of comics and graphic novels with 101Comics.com. From comic news, reviews & previews to movies & series.">

Optimal Length for a Meta Description

The meta description can technically contain any amount of text. Still, similarly to the Title tag, Google truncates anything that is above a certain number of characters, which in this case, is currently anywhere between 155-160

How to write good Meta Descriptions

Even though Google has announced that meta descriptions don’t play any role in rankings (similar to meta keywords), a meta description can impact your CTRs. 

As one of the first thing users see when they are looking for something, it is crucial that your description captures their attention and drives them to click on them.

Write unique meta descriptions for all of your pages. 

It’s essential to write unique meta descriptions for all of your pages, no matter your website’s size. If this sounds impossible, here’s what I suggest. 

Start with a formula for portions of your site. Formula A for Category A, Formula B for Category B, etc. but make it as friendly and as unique as possible. 

Once your product/website is out, start working on the unique descriptions. You will immediately see a difference in CTRs.

Make them human friendly and descriptive.

Always write your descriptions for humans. Engines rarely use them if you don’t. That means that you might spend a lot of time thinking that you somehow will trick engines into boosting your traffic for a specific keyword that you overuse and end up not getting any of your work shown.

Use your main keyword early in the meta description

Similarly to the title tag, adding the main keyword early on the meta description can help capture your user’s attention and increase the possibility of getting higher CTRs.

Google bold the words that match the user query which immediately make a visual difference. Check out the image below of the SERPs after I searched for “Growth Hacking”. Not just my query but closely related one’s get bold.

Warning: Google might show something different than what you picked for a meta description 

As I said above, meta descriptions might not even get displayed at the end of the day. It doesn’t mean that you can skip writing them, but if you encounter something like that, then you should take it as a message from Google saying. 

“I am not sure your description is good enough, and I will pick something else from your site to show my user.” 

How to edit your meta description

Depending on what CMS you are using, editing a meta description can vary. Most of the known CMSs out there such as WordPress, Shopify, Magento offer an easy way to modify your meta description, or some plugin exists that helps you do it. 

For example, plugins like Yoast, Rank Math, or All in One SEO for WordPress make editing a meta description super easy by adding a tool directly onto the page you are writing. 

Similarly, there is always an option of changing your meta description in Magento and Shopify wether on a product page, article, or your main pages such as home, about me, etc.

If you are working on a more static environment and are editing your HTML files to make changes, then that is easy as well. 

Your meta description most usually resides at the top of the HTML document within the <head> section and, in most cases, somewhere after the <title>

meta description tag html

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