What is an SEO meta description?
A meta description is a unique explanation of what your web page or post is about. The meta description doesn’t show on the web page itself, it shows up under the title in the Google Search results. An seo friendly meta description is a place where you can describe what type of content the user will see when they click through to that page from Google.
The red boxes of the image above represent what a meta description would look like in the Google Search Results.
Meta descriptions are really HTML tags indicating to Google that they are the description of the web page. This is indicated in the code as such.
SEO Meta description length
There is no set length restriction for a meta description that Google has provided, however the description will get cut off based on the number of pixels and the size of the device you are viewing the search result pages. You can make it as long or as short as you like with no major effect, according to Google. However, you can increase the chance a user will click on your page with a persuasive and effective meta description, which means optimizing the most important pieces to keep them visible when users are scrolling.
Meta description character limit
There is no meta description character limit, however, Google will only show as much text as the device you are viewing on allows. For example, you will be able to view less of the meta description on a mobile phone as compared to a large desktop monitor.
Meta description examples
Let’s look at some of the best SEO meta description examples that show up at the top of the search result pages for some of the more difficult inquiries to rank for. You can also check my SEO Services page for an example for local services.
If you look at the term “how to choose an air fryer” on Google, one of the top results is allrecipes.com. Their SEO meta description is completely unique in the sense that it does not show up the same on their web page. So they aren’t just using the first bit of text of their website to generate their meta description automatically.
They are including keywords that people might search for when related to how to choose an air fryer, for example, “basket-style air fryers” and “air fryer toaster ovens” in order to acquire more potential for ranking for those terms as well.
Let’s look at another example of a good meta description for SEO purposes.
If we look at this term that is typed into Google often, they have created this completely unique meta description. This does not show up in the text anywhere on the page, but it provides a good amount of value, piques interest, and even gives you a bit of information to go on. Notice how to they make sure to include the EXACT KEYWORD close to the start of the meta description so that it will always get bolded for the user when searching on any device. This is important to note.
Meta Description Generator
There are a few really cool tools and SEO meta description generators out there. But I usually break them down into two different categories:
- SEO automated meta description generator
- AI summarizer of content
The SEO automated meta description generator happens when you use tools like Rank Math SEO WordPress plugin in order to automatically create your meta description for you. Sometimes this can be helpful, but many times, webmasters will just use the start of their web page as the meta description. This is not a unique option, and goes against Google suggestions for most blogs and websites.
While Google does say sometimes it’s okay for automated meta descriptions, it is usually for large database style websites, so if you have a small business or blog then you should create separate meta descriptions for each page uniquely.
The AI Summarizer of content tools like Jarvis.ai will take all the content from your page and then create you an AI-written summary of your page, completely unique. (Well, most of the time anyway) There are many tools like this in 2022 that will do this for you, specifically with a keyword-focused agenda in mind, making sure to allow you to input the keyword of choice and the AI will make sure the keyword is close to the start of the meta description. Pretty cool.
How to write meta descriptions
Now, you might want to know how to write meta descriptions properly so you can increase your chances of SEO and rank on Google for each page. There are many schools of thought, but I like to use Google best practices for creating unique, descriptive meta descriptions and then expand a little bit.
Given the short amount of space these days for your meta description to show, make sure:
- Add your exact keyword close to the start of the meta description
- Describe the content on the page
- Make it completely unique
- Use persuasive language
The use of persuasive language is important to note that you should not be making anything up about what is on the page and in the content. Rather you should be using the type of language that might trigger a user to click on your page rather than a different result.
Make sure to hook your user with a super-short snippet of what they can expect if they visit your page.
Let’s look specifically at the different types of pages and posts to further define how to write a good SEO meta description for home pages, product pages, about us pages, and more.
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Homepage Meta Description
Your homepage should also have a meta description. It’s important to include descriptive information about your business for a variety of reasons. If you are a local business, this could include local information. If you have an eCommerce store, this could include the type of products you carry. Let’s look at some examples of high-quality meta descriptions for home pages and go from there.
Home meta description example
I looked at a few homepage meta description examples such as a local SEO expert here in Calgary and what they are currently doing to optimize their homepage meta description.
“780-800-1857 Certified Google Partner. 15+ years of Digital Marketing Experience in Edmonton. No Monthly Contracts. We help small to medium-sized businesses increase targeted traffic to their websites. We follow Google Guidelines, we won’t get your site in trouble.”
Some things to note in this meta description include:
- Phone number
- Social proof
- Local area to target
For a local-based business, it’s clear that the phone number and the local area you’re targeting are important for the homepage.
Homepage Meta descriptions Shopify
I took a peek at the top-ranking Shopify stores in Canada for traffic, according to Automizely, and analyzed their homepage meta descriptions.
Let’s look at a few examples and then go from there:
Cupshe Canada Homepage Meta Description – 9 million views/month (estimated)
<meta name=”description” content=”Stylish and affordable swimwear & beachwear for women from sizes XS-4X. Made from the highest quality that fits and flatters women in every body shape. Cupshe inspires women all over the world to have fun and to make memories of the moments that matter most.”>
This Shopify homepage meta description includes the brand name and some keyword identifiers like the word “women” multiple times to show they are targeting women. Nothing crazy stands out here except using standard keywords like “beachwear for women” and “affordable swimwear”.
Staples.ca Canada Shopify Homepage Meta Description – 7.5 million views/month (estimated)
<meta name=”description” content=”Shop Staples Canada for business essentials, back to school, electronics, office supplies, and more. Fast Free Delivery, Curbside Pickup, and Easy Returns.”>
This includes the brand name, the geographic location, and the main keywords they are trying to rank for such as “office supplies” and “back to school”.
I think the most important piece to take away for your Shopify store homepage meta description is that you should include your main keywords, your brand name, and potentially the national area you service.
About Us page meta description
I analyzed some of the most SEO-optimized websites About Us pages on the web, such as Backlinko.com which is a website about SEO.
When we look at this example the meta description of their About page looks like:
<meta name=”description” content=”I’m Brian Dean. If you’re not getting the traffic you want… If you’re confused by all the conflicting SEO information out there… Then I’ll help you get where you want to be.”>
The main takeaway here is the name. The author and creator of the website is clearly Brian Dean. Google uses E-A-T to determine and rank pages, which stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trust. So, this makes sense if you want to establish your EAT. He doesn’t really optimize for any specific keywords, he just makes sure to mention SEO because that’s what his website is about.
How to add links in the meta description
You might be mixing up links UNDER the meta description in the search engine results as opposed to an actual link in the meta description itself. As far as I know, you can’t add links in your meta description (they won’t be clickable in the search results).
But you can add links UNDER your meta description so they display in the search results. These are called sitelinks. They are used as navigational tools that show different pages on your website so users can potentially find a more suitable page for their search easier.
It looks like this as an example:
Meta description writer tool
Some SEO tools will automatically fill in the meta description for you based on the first paragraph of text on your web page. This is not ideal as Google states in their best practices that you should have a unique meta description.
However, there are tools that will summarize and create a meta description for you based on your entire page of text. Some tools cost money like Jarvis.ai and Peppertype, whereas some other tools might be free of charge.