Meta descriptions. You’ve heard of them (and heard you need them), but you’re not sure what they are, how to write them or where to put them.
It turns out, it’s not super complicated, and you absolutely can have great meta descriptions for your website. Read on, friends.
What’s a meta description?
A meta description is a short bit of text that describes a web page. It’s often seen below your title and URL on a search engine results page (SERP) (although the search engine may choose different text from your page to display if it’s more helpful).
Meta descriptions technically don’t affect search engine rankings, but are a great opportunity to give descriptive snippets of your pages and entice readers to click.
How do I write a meta description?
Follow these quick guidelines:
- Write close to 160 characters
- Use words that describe what the page is about
- Write so that the reader wants to click through
- Include a call to action
- Have a unique description for each page
Remember — you want your description to be short, sweet, descriptive and enticing.
In my meta description, I tried to cover what I did, where I was, who I could help and gave a call to action.
To preview what your meta description will look like (and get a little bit of guidance), try this free tool from Kayak.
Which pages need meta descriptions?
I advise my clients to have meta descriptions on all of their important pages. If you have a page that’s not indexed (like a thank you page), you don’t need a meta description because the page technically shouldn’t be indexed (or showing in the search results list).
After you write meta descriptions for pages, consider writing them for your posts. Sometimes I’ll use the same text for the excerpt as well.
And after you write them for posts, consider writing them for any custom post types (I have a CPT for presentations as well as for my portfolio) and also any categories. Check out this great post from Sumy Designs on optimizing your category pages for SEO.
Where and how do I add meta descriptions?
Go to the Yoast SEO panel near the bottom of the page or post. Under the SEO tab, add your meta description. Yoast gives a handy orange, green or red bar directly below the meta description box to alert you if your description is too short, too long or just right.
If you’re using SEOPress, look for the SEO panel below your content. Update the meta description in the box provided.
If you’re upping your game and want to add a meta description for your categories, go to Posts, Categories, Edit, then look for the SEO options near the bottom.
If you’re using a Genesis theme, try the built-in field for the meta description (no extra plugin needed).
Crafting and adding meta descriptions doesn’t have to be difficult and can make a big impact. Give it a try and give me a shout if you have questions!