How to create the right meta description
The meta description summarizes a page’s content and presents that to users in the search results.It’s one of the first things people will likely see when searching for something, so optimizing it is crucial for SEO.It’s your chance to persuade users to click on your result! This post will show you the characteristics of a good meta description and how Yoast SEO can help you get it right.
Table of contents
[What is a meta description?](#meta-description) [Why set a meta description?](#h-why-set-a-meta-description) [Characteristics of a good meta description](#characteristics) [How Yoast SEO helps you write meta descriptions](#yoast-seo-meta-description) [What to do if you need meta descriptions for a lot of pages?](#meta-descriptions-for-a-lot-of-pages) [Meta descriptions for social sharing](#social-meta-descriptions)
Did you get a red traffic light for the keyphrase in the meta description check in Yoast SEO? Read what
[this check does](#keyphrase-in-meta-description), and [how to turn this traffic light green](#write-keyphrase-in-meta-description).Yoast SEO also checks the length of your meta description.Read about [how that check works](#length-assesment), and how to write a [concise meta description](#concise-meta-description).
What is a meta description?
The meta description is an HTML tag you can set for a post or page of your website.
In it, you can use roughly 155 characters to describe what your page is about.If you’re lucky, Google will show it beneath your page’s title in the search results.It allows you to convince search engine users that your page will offer what they are looking for.
In Google’s search results, this is where it can be displayed:
And this is what it looks like in the HTML code of the page:
https://yoast.com/shopify/apps/yoast-seo/ and using Yoast SEO.Firstly, you can write it in the Google preview section of Yoast SEO.But Yoast SEO also gives you feedback on it in the SEO analysis.The plugin checks the meta description length and whether you’ve used your focus keyphrase.
So let’s see how the plugin helps you and what you can do with it.
What does the keyphrase in meta description assessment in Yoast SEO do?
This check is all about using the keyphrase in the meta description.A
focus keyphrase is the search term you want a page to rank with.When people use that term, you want them to find your page.You base your keyphrase on keyword research.After your research, you should end up with a combination of words that most of your audience is most likely to search for.We’ve already discussed that when you use your keyphrase in the meta description, Google will likely highlight it.That makes it easier for people to see that they’ve found what they are looking for.
Yoast SEO checks if and how often you use the words from your focus keyphrase in the meta description text.
In addition, if you use
Yoast SEO Premium, it also takes into account the synonyms you enter.
If you overdo it, the plugin advises you to limit the use of your focus keyphrase.
How to get a green traffic light for the keyphrase in meta description
If you don’t mention the keyphrase in the meta description at all, you’ll get a red traffic light.So, make sure to write one.But don’t stuff your meta description with your keyphrase, because that will also get you a red traffic light.And make sure to mention all the words from your keyphrase near to each other.Search engines are pretty smart nowadays, but you still need to make it clear what your page is about.
Yoast SEO Premium plugin takes the synonyms you’ve added into account when it performs its analysis.This allows you to write more naturally and will result in a text that’s a more pleasant read.
Moreover, it’s easier to score a green traffic light this way.Use it to your advantage!
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What does the meta description length assessment do?
This meta description
length assessment measures whether your description is too short (less than 120 characters) or too long (more than 156 characters).
When your meta description has the right length, you’ll get a green traffic light.If it’s too long, or too short, you’ll get an orange traffic light in the SEO analysis of Yoast SEO (or red, if you’ve marked your article as cornerstone content).
How to write a concise meta description
A good meta description convinces people that your page offers the best result to their query.But, to be the best result, you must know what people are looking for.What is their
search intent? Are they looking for an answer to a question? If they are, try to give them the most complete answer.Are they looking for a product? Write down what makes your product stand out and why they would best buy it in your store.
Be concise and convincing!
You get real-time feedback on the meta description length in the Google preview section in the Yoast SEO sidebar or meta box.If you want to write a meta description, click on “Google preview” in the Yoast SEO sidebar.This will open the snippet editor and you’ll see input fields to edit the
SEO title, the slug and the meta description.
When you start typing in the meta description input field, the snippet preview at the top of the Google preview editor will immediately show your new text.Underneath the input field, there is a bar.It’s orange when you start typing and will become green when you’ve added enough information.When you add too much text, it will turn orange again.
Writing or editing your meta description in the Yoast SEO meta box underneath your post editor is also possible.
Just go to the SEO tab in the meta box (if it’s not on this tab by default), and you can start typing in the field under Meta description right away.
What to do if you need meta descriptions for a lot of pages?
Does it feel like you need to change all your meta descriptions after reading this? But not sure how to fit that into your schedule? Google has the answer:
“If you don’t have time to create a description for every single page, try to prioritize your content; at the very least, create a description for the critical URLs like your home page and popular pages.“Advice from
[Google Search Central documentation]
You can check which of your pages rank highest with
Google Search Console.Take it from there.Additionally, it’s also possible to optimize your meta descriptions with variables in Yoast SEO.This allows you to speed up this process without having to worry about duplicate descriptions.
If you prefer to write a unique description for each page and have a lot to get through, you can use the
Bulk editor tool in Yoast SEO for WordPress.
Head to the Tools page, click on ‘Bulk editor’, and then select the ‘Description’ tab.You’ll be able to see any meta descriptions already set for your pages, and you can quickly add new ones without having to open each page individually.However, with this tool, you won’t get warnings if your description is too short/long, or if the focus keyword is missing.
Meta descriptions for social sharing
Do you have Yoast SEO? In that case: check the Facebook and Twitter preview in the Yoast SEO sidebar or social tab in the Yoast SEO meta box below your post or page.You can add a separate description for your social media channels there.
Yoast SEO Premium, you even have social previews that show you what your post or page will look like when shared on social media.
How to use the Google preview in Yoast SEO »
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