How to Write Meta Descriptions for SEO

Written by: Jason Bayless | March 20, 2015

If you are not familiar with search engine optimization (commonly referred to as SEO) then you might not have heard of meta descriptions. While the term seems highly technical, learning how to utilize effective meta descriptions for better search engine optimization is not an overly difficult process. In this post, we will discuss a few things to keep in mind for properly maximizing your meta descriptions. First off, let’s cover what meta descriptions are:

What are meta descriptions?

When you search for something in a search engine (i.e. Google, Bing, etc.), the bolded item at the top is the title but directly beneath that is the meta description. While keywords within the meta description don’t feed directly into how the search engines rank a site, users utilize this description to identify if the site properly contains the information they are seeking out.

So how do you ensure that your meta description is effective as possible? Here are three factors to keep in mind:

1.) Keep it brief

The optimal length of a meta description is between 150 and 160 characters. The rationale behind this is that the length of the meta description that shows in most of the major search engines is under 170 characters so, in order to eliminate a truncated description, make sure each of your site’s meta descriptions are around 150 characters.

2.) Keep it relevant

There was a time when individuals used to jam highly-searchable keywords into their meta descriptions (i.e. Britney Spears Justin Timberlake Super Bowl Free Music TV Movies) even though they had nothing to do with the content of the page, itself. While this still happens occasionally, the sophistication of search engine algorithms has all but made this an ineffective process. With this in mind, be sure to keep your meta descriptions as relevant to the content of the page as possible. You may choose to include a few keywords (whether those keywords are terms you are hoping to organically rank with or are paid), but be sure they fit and read accurately within the description.

3.) Keep it well-written

As items number one and two indicate, not only should your meta descriptions be brief (150-160 characters) and relevant, but they should also be well-written. It should go without saying (but sadly it does not) that your meta descriptions should be free of grammatical and spelling errors. Additionally, your meta descriptions should read as brief (one or two sentences) paragraphs addressing the nature of the pages. If the page you are creating a meta description is for the menu of a bakery, the meta description should reflect that specific aspect of the business. Every page should not have the exact same meta description copy/pasted over and over.

Examples of quality meta descriptions

Let’s utilize the aforementioned bakery as an example of how to create effective meta tags. If your bakery is in Chicago and specializes in sugar cookies but you are hoping to start catering weddings you might identify a few keywords you hope to start organically ranking for: cater Chicago, weddings in northern Illinois, wedding cake Chicago, and so on and so forth. Effectively creating meta descriptions on the appropriate pages will help your efforts.

Bakery Home Page
Meta Description:
Simply Sugar Bakery is located in Chicago, Illinois conveniently nestled in Lincoln Park. Known for our sugar cookies, we also cater weddings and other events.

Catering Page
Meta Description:
Simply Sugar Bakery now caters Chicago and also specializes in providing cupcakes, cakes, and other delightful treats for weddings in northern Illinois.

Each page should have a unique meta description that properly identifies your brand, the purpose of the page, and maybe even includes one or two keywords you are hoping to rank on organically.

Be original and best of luck!