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Meta descriptions

Meta descriptions are small snippets of between 150 and 160 characters that explain a page’s content.

The description is contained in HTML tags and suggests to search engines, like Google, what to display on the search results page below the link title. If a user’s query is included in the description, it is bolded, which can help increase click-through rates.

Increasingly, search engines select the meta description instead of relying on user input. This shift has made meta descriptions less important as part of an overall SEO strategy.

Common meta description issues

  1. Not having a description. A lack of a meta description leaves it up to search engines to auto-generate one.

  2. Too short or long. While there isn’t a limit on character length, meta descriptions should stay between 150 and 165 characters to avoid truncation.

  3. More than one meta description on a page. Having more than one meta description tag on a page can confuse search engines.

  4. Duplicate meta descriptions. If more than one page has the same exact meta description, this can cause confusion for users or make it more likely that search engines will ignore your meta descriptions.

  5. Not keyword focused. Not including keywords in your meta description misses an opportunity to increase click-through-rates for your website.

Meta description best practices

  1. Include keywords. Keywords are bolded when they match the user’s search phrase. This can increase click-through rates to your website. Include keywords in a natural, organic way that emulates how people actually speak. Stuffing keywords in an unnatural way can come off as spammy and untrustworthy.

  2. Keep it between 150 and 165 characters. Limiting the length helps ensure that the description is not cut off—so users see everything you write.

  3. Have a call to action. Including a call to action (e.g., "Learn more.") provides the next step to users and entices them to enter your website.

  4. Stay on brand. Use the same brand voice on your website to ensure a seamless user experience.

  5. Use active voice. Use active voice to keep your description concise and easy for the user to understand at a glance.

  6. Convey value. Make it clear why users should visit your website and what they can expect to gain.