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What Is a Meta Description and How to Create an Effective One

You probably already know that meta descriptions no longer have a direct effect on search engine results pages (SERP) ranking. 

What you may not know is that popular search engines, including Google, still advise site owners to create them for web pages. 

If you’re unsure of the best practices around meta descriptions for your site, you’ve come to the right place.  

In this article, you will learn what a meta description is, and the SEO benefits of implementing them. You’ll also be guided through step by step to create the perfect meta description for your site. 

What is a meta description?

A meta description is an ‘HTML meta tag’ that provides search engines with a summary of the content on a web page in 50-160 characters. 

They’re located under the page title in SERPs as follows:

Example of meta description

Here’s what this meta description looks like in the HTML code:

<meta name="description" content="Best smartphones - List of all the latest and new smartphones available from various mobile companies and brands">

Despite not being considered a ranking signal by search engines, it remains a key player in your on-page SEO efforts. 

It’s an indispensable space to incorporate keywords relevant to the search intent you want the page to rank for. Think of it as the elevator pitch for your page.

This makes the meta description vital to promoting your website and increasing your click-through rate (CTR).

How to make a great meta description

Creating a meta description isn’t as simple as just summing up your page’s content. 

Take a look at these four simple steps before approaching your own: 

1. Write descriptive information about your page

A good meta description must provide accurate information of the content it represents. 

Avoid using misleading information and keywords; doing so damages visitors’ trust in you and increases your site’s bounce rate.

When making a meta description, try to answer these questions:

  • What is the topic your page covers?
  • What does the page’s content offer?
  • How will users benefit from visiting your page?

For example, if you’re previewing a website builder, mention the brand and its key features. 

The goal is to appeal to both a visitor’s needs and curiosity, these will make them want to visit the page for more details.

2. Insert your keywords

Just because popular search engines claim that meta descriptions don’t factor in SERP ranking, you should still be including keywords. 

Search engines tend to highlight meta descriptions with keywords matching those searched by users, indicating that your page provides the information they’re looking for.

This increases the likelihood a user will pick your page to visit over others on the SERP. 

Though there are clear benefits to adding keywords to your meta descriptions, be mindful to avoid keyword stuffing at all costs, as this will undermine your good work. 

3. Make them short and clear

You’re working with super limited space, so meta descriptions call for efficient and targeted word choices. They’re like Tweets for SEO. 

In covering your page’s key points, it’s essential to present them in their shortest and simplest form. 

You should approach your meta description as if you’re writing to a real person. For this reason, it’s best to use active voice and avoid complicated words. 

An ideal meta description is easy to understand and flows naturally.

There’s also the opportunity to encourage visitors to access your page using call-to-action (CTA) words. 

For example, “create” is an ideal word choice if the page covers the steps required to create a new email account. Alternatively, use “join” if you want visitors to connect with your community. 

In short, choose the CTAs that align with the purpose of your page.

4. Create a unique meta description

For websites with more than one page, the meta descriptions need to match each page’s individual purpose. 

Despite being grouped on the same website, your web pages should serve different functions depending on the content.

Duplicating meta descriptions must be avoided. Besides wasting your chance to promote the page, this practice also pits your pages against each other in SERPs. 

As search engines only pick the meta description once, other pages with similar meta tags end up contributing nothing to your SEO efforts. 

If you don’t have time to create a unique meta description for each page, it’s better to leave it blank rather using a duplicate. 

Don’t worry — popular search engines like Google will automatically generate one based on the content. 

Alternatively, you can use Zyro’s content generator to find inspiration. Our AI-powered tool can generate personalized texts based on the keywords you input. You can easily adjust the text length, level of uniqueness, and depth. 

The texts are SEO-friendly, giving your web page better odds of climbing the SERP ranking.

Zyro AI Content Generator in action

Examples of good meta descriptions

To give you a better idea of how to create a meta description, we’ve compiled some great examples for your reference:

1. Pinterest

Pinterest meta description as an example

Pinterest’s meta description wastes no time selling all the content you can find on the site. 

It’s concise, descriptive, and has all the necessary elements to make a good meta tag: call-to-action words and well-incorporated popular keywords. 

This particular example proves that a good meta description doesn’t need to be lengthy and flowery. It’s a reminder that less can be more. 

2. Facebook Community

Facebook meta description as an example

Facebook Community page is a great example of a descriptive meta description for a service page. 

It starts with the name of the service, then followed by how it works. To top it off, it also showcases the brand’s global reach and user benefits. 

3. LinkedIn

LinkedIn meta description as an example

What stands out from LinkedIn’s meta description is that it starts by boasting about its whopping number of its members — an effective shorthand to establish credibility.

It also successfully incorporates essential keywords that represent the elements and values of the brand, such as “identity,” “professional,” and “insights.”

4. Tumblr

Tumblr meta description as an example

Tumblr’s meta description tries to engage potential visitors in a more personal way. 

By addressing users with personal pronouns like “yourself” and “you,” the website bridges the gap between the company and its audience.  

5. YouTube

Youtube meta description as an example

Starting with a strong call-to-action word “Enjoy”, YouTube’s meta description proceeds to explore all the things you can do on the platform. 

You can tell at a glance what YouTube has to offer; this is what all meta descriptions should strive for.

Conclusion

A meta description is a summary of your page. It informs visitors what content to expect on a web page and helps them decide whether or not they should access it. 

When implemented correctly, it should increase the CTR and contribute to your SEO efforts.

There are four steps to making a great meta description:

  1. Write descriptive information about your page
  2. Insert keywords relevant to the content
  3. Make it concise and easy to understand
  4. Create a unique meta description

Coming up with a unique meta description might be challenging, but knowing the dos and don’ts when creating a meta tag should make the task more manageable.

Now you know everything you need to know about meta description, it’s time to create your own. Good luck!

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