Meta Description

Meta Descriptions are an HTML element that allow you to briefly summarise a web page. It’s important to add and optimise your website’s meta descriptions, as they play an essential role in terms of click through rates and on Page SEO. This meta description can be found in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Table of Contents

What are Meta Descriptions?

The meta description tag is an HTML code that you can use to add a brief description to your web page. It summarises the contents of a page in a few characters, convincing enough to draw attention and drive a click. Meta Descriptions are a key feature of any webpage, but are often overlooked by most online businesses when preparing their ecommerce growth strategy.

You can find a webpage’s meta description in the:

  • HTML code

This is where the meta description is present in its raw form, in the <head> section, after the meta title tag. The code will often be presented as

     <meta name=“description” content=”insert content” />
Meta Description for Homepage
  • Search Engine Result Pages [SERPs]


Here the meta description is present underneath the title of the webpage [which is the blue link in the snippet].

Meta Description in Serps

Bonus: Meta Descriptions are also visible on Social Media posts beneath the featured image and Title.

If you’re using Content Management Systems [CMS] such as Shopify and WordPress, or SEO Plugins [e.g. Yoast], it can be fairly simple to add these meta descriptions without having to worry about HTML codes. 

Interested in improving your meta descriptions? Keep reading to learn more about why they’re important for your Click Through Rates [CTR] and Search Engine Optimization [SEO], and how you can make the most out of them.

Why are Meta Descriptions important?

Meta Descriptions are an essential part of the SERP snippet. As a website owner, you have a chance to convince more searchers to be intrigued by your offer, and click on your webpage over anyone else’s.

SEO wise, if you use your meta description space wisely, you can get quite a few clicks, and improve your organic traffic in the process.

Meta descriptions, along with title tags, are important for user experience, since a well-crafted meta description that aligns with the customer’s search intent stands out, helps customers preview your webpage, and leads to that valuable click you’re hoping for.

Are Meta Descriptions a Ranking Factor for Google?

Although not a direct ranking factor, meta descriptions through their CTR benefit can help SEO, and rankings by extension. 

Unlike title tags, Google will not use your meta descriptions directly to understand and rank your site, but having a convincing meta description can be the difference between a potential customer clicking on, or ignoring your site. Google uses the number of clicks received on your webpage as a positive ranking signal, and meta descriptions influence your CTRs.

This means meta descriptions should be a given part of your on-page SEO strategy, especially for important pages such as the homepage, category and product pages, as well as any service pages you may own. 

How to Write a Meta Description

Now that you know why meta descriptions are important for your webpages, let’s go over the things you need to keep in mind when building a good meta description.

  • Keyword Specific Meta Descriptions: Just like title tags, it is important to address the primary keyword in your meta descriptions. In fact, if the target keyword in your meta description matches the search term, the keyword will appear in bold to highlight your snippet, and make it harder for a searcher to skip your site once they come by it. It is better to limit the description to 2-3 keywords at most,  so they are easier to read and cover other elements of your site’s content as well.
Meta Description with KW
  • Unique Meta Descriptions with Clear CTA: Ensuring that your key pages have a specific and convincing meta description will make it easy for your customers to identify separate pages, products, and services. Duplicate meta descriptions across the site could be considered an SEO issue that needs to be addressed for CTR, and for Google’s ranking algorithm to gauge those CTRs. Optimising the description for searchers means keeping it engaging and creative. This also includes using action words such as Shop, Buy, Try, Learn, Contact etc. which are used as a clear call to action and help persuade customers to visit your page.
  • Benefit Focused Meta Descriptions: Considering a meta description tag has more space than a title tag, it is easier to mention product or service benefits in your description. If you’re an ecommerce store, make sure that your most important category and product pages include attributes and benefits that are sure to catch customer attention. If you’re offering a service, the same applies. You could also highlight customer service elements such as free delivery, 30 day return policy, or a free consultation to boost your click chances.
  • Concise Meta Descriptions: Given the limited space in snippets, your meta description needs to be concise, while covering the essence of your webpage. To avoid Google cutting off the end of your displayed meta description on SERPs, or replacing it altogether, keeping it short is also important alongside search query relevancy. Make sure to fully utilise the length capacity though, as you can use it to present a personalised view of your page for the customer. The exact length for meta descriptions has been covered later.


Pro Tip: don’t write one long sentence in your description. Instead opt for smaller chunks of 2-3 sentences that highlight each sentence, do not require connectors and give a break to the searcher when they read through it.

Truncated Meta Description

Considering these four elements, here’s an idea of what a good and bad meta description might look like:

Good Meta Description: Buy Winter Boots for Women including Leather, Suede and Synthetic Boots in popular styles. 30 day exchange policy. Fast delivery Australia wide. Shop Now.

Bad Meta Description: Our shoe store has been present in the market for many years and understands how to provide you with the best shoes and service. Now Winter is here and we are offering winter season boots and shoes for women in various materials and lots of shoe styles. 

How Long Should a Meta Description Be?

Generally, meta descriptions are to be kept under 990px, for Google to display them as is. This is based on the pixel width on SERPs, which translates into 155-160 characters. However, given pixel limitations, some characters, such as uppercase letters, will take up more space than lowercase ones, so keep that in mind when crafting your meta description.

There are many online tools available that help you to write your meta description for Google’s desired length. Consider SERPsim, which helps you keep your meta description size in check, as well as Title tags and URLs.

Serpsim meta description length

Does Google Rewrite Meta Descriptions?

If you’ve ever spent time creating meta descriptions for your webpages, and then find an entirely new description in the search results, don’t be too surprised. It’s true that Google ends up rewriting a ton of meta descriptions, especially those that are too long, or poorly crafted.

Does that mean you should give up on meta descriptions entirely? Absolutely not. 

The art here is to prepare keyword based meta descriptions that can match search queries and search intents, since those have a higher chance of sticking.

If you choose to ignore writing meta descriptions as a whole, Google will use a few lines of your page’s content as that short description instead. If those lines come with important keywords, this could be useful. But sometimes they are introductory sentences unclear about the purpose of the page, and can be cut off in the middle due to excess length.

Why take the risk? It’s better to optimise your meta descriptions, and grab that free shot at reaching your customers in your own unique way.

The Bottom Line

Meta descriptions are your opportunity to win customers over to your webpage so make sure to follow these basic guidelines and draft descriptions that can improve your CTR. 

Since meta descriptions are not the primary ranking factor, don’t forget to work on other on-page SEO elements within your site to get the rankings and organic traffic numbers you need. For best results, consider hiring an SEO agency in Melbourne to take care of these optimisations for you.

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