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What is a Meta Description? Examples and Tips

Meta descriptions tell searchers what they will find when they click on your website. Here’s how to write a meta description that increases your clicks.

When you use an online search engine to look for something online, you get tons of results to choose between. You could click through as many as you like until you find the page you're looking for, or you can read the page descriptions of each result. For example, when looking at a search engine results page (SERP) after typing in your search query, you'll see the page title with a short description below it, which is called the meta description.

Meta descriptions inform users about what to expect when they visit your web page. These descriptions are not visible on the web pages themselves. Rather, they appear on SERPs to help users decide whether they should click on a web page.

An optimized meta description can increase a business' organic traffic. Unfortunately, many small business owners don't realize they can impact what's shown on search engines like Google. Meta descriptions help convince a user to click a result, so they must be optimized to help individuals understand the content on a page while prompting them to click on the page.

The basics of SEO

Meta descriptions are an important part of SEO strategy. However, to understand why they matter, you must first know how search engines work. When someone types a query into Google or another search engine, they get results based on their query. In recent years, Google has also updated to include the use of search intent to improve the user experience. When a user is met with their results, they see a title and a description of different pages from different websites. They use the meta title and meta description to decide whether or not they should click to go to a particular page of a website.

SEO consists of 3 components, all of which are essential for any SEO checklist:

  • Off-page: Off-page SEO involves the use of backlinks, also known as inbound links, proving trustworthiness and relevance to search engines and helping you rank higher in SERPs.
  • Technical: Technical SEO involves the crawling and indexing of website pages. For your page to appear in a SERP, search engines must first crawl and index it. Then, when users search for something using a search engine, they see the most relevant information.
  • On-page: On-page SEO involves the use of keywords and content optimization to help search engines and users understand what your webpage is about. The HTML tags, including the title and meta description, must reflect those keywords. Building relevant, keyword-rich content can help your business rank higher in SERPs.

Unfortunately, meta descriptions don't exactly help you rank higher in SERPs because they're not part of the ranking algorithm. However, businesses can benefit from them to increase their organic traffic. Since meta descriptions help convince users to click on your result, getting more clicks can increase your organic traffic and click-through rate (CTR). Search engines may use that information to determine if your particular link is worthy of its position in SERPs.

Because the CTR may affect your rankings and directly impact your organic traffic, your meta descriptions must be optimized to promote more clicks and increase traffic to your website.

What makes a good meta description?

Writing a good meta description is crucial, but you must know how to optimize it for search engines and users. Therefore, you must learn how to write a meta description by understanding the basic components and features.

The right length

There are set guidelines for how long your meta descriptions can be. Your meta description could be truncated in search results if you write too much. Your meta description should be no more than 155-160 characters to ensure it doesn't get cut off mid-sentence. While you must keep it short, that shouldn't prevent you from writing copy that will convince users to visit your page.


Meta descriptions convince users to click on your link, so they must tell people what they should do next. Give users a reason to click your link by providing them with a strong CTA and a description that tells them about the content on your page.

Target keywords

Since you're trying to improve your meta descriptions, we can only assume you've worked on some other on-page content and started optimizing your web page for target keywords to help you rank higher in SERPs. Using your target keyword in your meta description will help Google and other search engines understand the intent of your web page. It will also promote more clicks because users search for a similar query, making them more likely to click on links that repeat that information back to them.

Tips for writing meta descriptions

Now that you understand the 3 main components of a meta description and why meta descriptions are important for SEO and website traffic, you must learn how to write them. Here are some tips for how to write a meta description and increase your CTR.

Be clear

Your meta description summarizes what users can expect to find on your page. If your content doesn't match the meta description, you'll have a higher bounce rate on your website. While bounce rate isn't a ranking factor, a high bounce rate means individuals clicked on a result and left without visiting any other page, which hurts your website conversion rates.

There's no reason to provide a misleading or inaccurate meta description just to get more visitors to your site because those visitors will leave if your meta description and content on the page don't match.

Prevent duplicates

When you begin your SEO journey, you might try to save time by reusing meta descriptions on similar pages. However, meta descriptions must be unique because search engines use them to determine how relevant your content is to effectively match user intent. If search engines have difficulty determining how relevant your content is, they will use other content from the page to match user intent and help people understand your content.

Search engines may not use all of your meta descriptions, especially if they deem them irrelevant to the search query and user intent. Therefore, if you want Google to use the meta description you've written because it can increase clicks to your website, you must prevent duplicates.

Don't keyword stuff

Keyword stuffing is a thing of the past because search engines realized that when pages are stuffed with keywords, they're not providing any value to users. Instead of trying to stuff keywords into your meta description, aim to use 1 keyword naturally within the copy to ensure it effectively summarizes the web page.

Consider user intent

Search engines consider user intent when they show them results from a query, so your meta descriptions must consider why the user should click on your link. Therefore, how you write your meta description can affect the user type and their intent. For example, if someone is searching for web development tips, your language in the meta description might be more technical to suit intermediate to advanced developer needs, or it can include basic information for beginners and a wider audience.

Examples of strong meta descriptions

You've just learned everything you need to know about meta descriptions, but it may be difficult to grasp how to write them without examples. Here are a few samples to help you understand the important elements your meta descriptions must have.

Example 1: Mailchimp marketing automation & email marketing

“Grow your business on your terms with Mailchimp's All-In-One marketing, automation & email marketing platform. Easy to use - start for free!”

Here is a real-world example of Mailchimp's meta description, linking to the home page. As you can see, it's concise with actionable items and a strong CTA. Mailchimp's meta description tells users what they can expect when they visit the website, including information on marketing automation and email marketing. It also has a strong CTA because it offers free services that entice users to click.

Example 2: Subscription-based bakery

Satisfy your sweet tooth with delicious cookies, cakes, cupcakes, and more. Order your sweets online now. Subscriptions starting at just $10/month.

Again, this example is short and sweet, so it won't be truncated on SERPs. Additionally, it uses action words and tells the user exactly what they can expect when they click on the link. It also has a strong CTA and detailed information about the cost of the service.

Example 3: Pet training business

Finding time to train your new puppy is hard. We make it easy. House training, obedience training, behavioral training, clicker training, and more.

This meta description example for a pet training business focuses on new pet parents' challenges and provides the user with examples of the types of solutions they offer. It focuses on the user to prompt a more emotional response, making pet parents click to learn more about the different services.

Help customers find you

Meta descriptions allow you to get search engine users to click your links. These are individuals already looking for solutions to their problems or answers to their questions, so they're more likely to click a link that addresses their concerns in the meta description. Writing optimized and effective meta descriptions takes practice, but testing different options over time can help you find the right words to convey your message and increase clicks.

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