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  • Writer's pictureAndy Jones

Meta Descriptions: Definition, Length, Writing and Optimisation

Updated: Mar 29, 2019

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It's yours!

Why would you ignore the chance to get your message out there without having to spend through the nose for it?

You wouldn’t, and you shouldn’t.

Don’t fall into the trap of ignoring the secret weapon that is the meta description.

Use it, optimise it, and make it awesome!

To ensure you get the most out of your meta snippets, we look into everything from meta description definitions to awesome optimisation techniques.

What Is The Definition of The Meta Description?

The meta description is a html tag that allows you to display a snippet of text below each link in the organic search results.

meta description example

Although no longer considered a direct ranking factor, the meta description tag can still play a massive part in your SEO strategy.

And here’s why…

Not only do meta descriptions describe the contents of a web page to the searcher, they also give you the chance to persuade the searcher to click your link, over everyone elses.

Clicks equals traffic to YOUR content.

And you want improved organic traffic to your website, right?

Of course you do!

Keep reading to find out how to optimise your meta description to get those clicks.

How Long Should Your Meta Description Be?

This is a hot topic right now.

Google confirmed in December 2017 that they were increasing the length of description snippets.

The recommended maximum length used to be around the 160 mark. That’s now increased to a whopping 320 characters!

That’s a whole lot more text to play around with for your meta description length.

Even more reason to utilise it to your advantage!

If you’re worried about what might (or might not fit) into your description, there’s some really useful meta description length checker tools out there, along with other great free google seo tools.

The preview tool from Smart Search Marketing allows you to check how your title tag, description and URL might look within the search result pages.

meta description preview tool

I wouldn’t recommend blindly updating all of your descriptions to 320 characters however.

Try testing different meta description lengths and see what works for you. It may be that snippets at 160 characters still harness the better click-through rates.

Remember though, just because the character length has increased, it doesn’t necessarily mean you always have to use it.

How Do You Write An Awesome Meta Description?

1. Provide Value

What makes you different?

What can you offer that competitors can’t?

Answering these types of questions when writing your meta description can really make you stand out of the crowd.

It’s not enough to just describe what you offer, you need to describe why what you offer is better than everyone else!

The below is a great example from the guys at Search Engine Land at how to outline what the page is about and why it will benefit you.

meta description example

2. Include Calls to Action

Passive sales copy is the death of click-through rates!

Great meta description examples always use actionable language. Try and give the reader clarity around what to expect if they click your link and then push them to take action.

Using words like “Discover”, “Learn” and “Experience” infers hidden value that can be obtained, whilst also enticing the click.

From an ecommerce perspective, although fairly transparent, using calls to actions like “buy now” or “shop the range today” will still help increase your click-through rates.

3. Include Keywords

Just to reiterate, meta descriptions are not a direct ranking factor.

BUT, click-through rates and engagement are ranking factors.

organic click-through rates

This means you need to do everything within your power to make your listing stand out and get that click!

A simple and easy way to make your meta description eye-catching is to include your primary keyword within it.

Including your keyword helps your listing match with the searchers query. When this match occurs, your chosen keyword gets shown in bold.

meta description bolded keyword

This makes your organic listing look instantaneously more click-worthy and eye-catching!

Depending on how long you want your seo meta description tag to be, try and include your primary keyword within it at least once.

Then, include other secondary or contextual keywords around it, this will help add extra theming and relevancy to your organic listing.


So, there you have it! Our handy meta description definition and optimisation guide will have you creating awesome, click worthy descriptions like a pro.

Just because meta descriptions are not an ‘direct’ ranking factor, it doesn’t mean they are devoid of value.

In fact, it’s quite the opposite!

A high click-through rate from the SERPs shows that your listing matches what the user is looking for.

In the world of Google Rankbrain, this match will be recognised and rewarded!



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