Few lines of text can take your website traffic to new heights the way that meta descriptions can.
Maxing out at 160 characters, meta descriptions are pithy HTML attributes that summarize the content of a website page when it comes up in search results and other shareable formats.
Before displaying search results, Google has to crawl the content on your site. It examines meta tags—which usually include a meta description—to show a preview of the content on its own site. In the end, these descriptions appear below the page title in search results to give users a preview of what to expect when clicking a link.
Technically, meta descriptions don’t directly impact your search engine optimization (SEO) rankings, but they do have the ability to influence a user’s decision to click on a link to your pages. If done well, they act as a teaser of the page’s content, purpose, and relevance. That alone can increase website traffic and improve SEO by increasing your site’s authority.
What makes a good meta description?
When you look at the first page of search results for most queries, you’ll find that a lot of meta descriptions were carefully crafted to consider the following factors:
- Length: Google limits the number of meta description characters it displays to 160. Your meta descriptions should stick within that limit—or have a compelling reason for going over.
- Relevance: Your meta description should align with the target page’s content, compliment the headline, and include vital keywords.
- Value proposition: Clearly state the benefits your visitors will gain from visiting the page.
- Call to action: Since your goal is driving click-through traffic, the description should encourage users to take action and visit the page.
- Clarity: Use clear, straightforward language so anyone can understand the content and purpose of the page. Avoid complex jargon at all costs.
- Engagement: Use compelling language that captures attention and sparks curiosity.
- Brand consistency: Meta descriptions should align with your brand voice and messaging.
Note: Even if you add meta descriptions that check all of the boxes, Google might still decide to show other text from your site’s pages in its previews. Although this can be frustrating and disappointing, you should still strive to have compelling meta descriptions in place in case Google starts using them later on.
12 Meta Description Examples from Page 1 Results
- Search term: “agile software development”
- Headline: The Agile Software Development Life Cycle
- Meta Description: The Agile software development life cycle is the structured series of stages that a product goes through as it moves from beginning to end. It contains six (155/160)
- Wrike is a work management platform, so it would want to rank highly in searches for agile project management.
- Great use of plain language. There are no unfamiliar words here that would scare away someone trying to learn. Other, lower-ranked meta descriptions introduce jargon (DevOps, SDLC) and other complex language.
- The description gives just enough information about the six steps to make it a teaser that could increase the click-through rate.
2. Earth Trekkers
- Search term: “travel inspiration”
- Headline: Travel Inspiration
- Meta Description: Need some travel inspiration? Find the perfect holiday or vacation destination with these great travel ideas and bucket list destinations. (138/160)
- Earth Trekkers is a travel blog, so ranking highly for a keyword like travel inspiration would be a priority for attracting its target audience of travel enthusiasts.
- The description uses simple language and is short enough to fall comfortably within the 160-character limit.
- It uses a question at the beginning as an engaging CTA. The answer for anyone searching this term will likely be a yes. This will help drive click-through traffic.
- The description uses clear and concise language that promises to help users find the perfect holiday or vacation destination—so they know what they’re clicking on.
- Search term: “healthy smoothie recipes”
- Headline: Healthy Smoothie Recipes
- Meta Description: Find healthy, delicious smoothie recipes including strawberry, tropical and other fruit smoothies, green smoothies and protein smoothies. Healthier recipes (155/160)
- As a magazine covering food, nutrition, and sustainability, it’s understandable that EatingWell would want to rank well for searches about healthy smoothie recipes—they’re a favorite among health enthusiasts everywhere.
- This description immediately shows its relevance to search engine users by including the keyword near the beginning.
- The meta description makes it clear what users can expect to find on the page by providing specific examples of the kinds of smoothie recipes they feature.
- They appeal to their target audience by emphasizing the benefits of their smoothies by using terms like “healthy” and “delicious.”
- Search term: “digital marketing tips”
- Headline: 11 Essential Digital Marketing Tips
- Meta Description: 11 Top Digital Marketing Tips · 1. Understand Your Customer · 2. Create Compelling Content · 3. Regularly Optimize Your Website for SEO and Conversions · 4. Build a (164/160)
- Emotive is a digital marketing platform, so ranking first for a search term like “digital marketing tips” would attract prospective customers seeking help with digital marketing.
- While this description is over the character limit, it’s still a concise description that lets the user know what kinds of digital marketing tips they can expect to find.
- Using action verbs makes the description engaging and encourages clicks. Including numbers also helps attract attention and suggests readers will find content structured in a format that’s easy to digest.
5. Merill Lynch
- Search term: “financial planning tools”
- Headline: Financial Planning Tools, Calculators and Resources
- Meta Description: Explore our financial planning tools, calculators, and resources to help you stay on track with your financial goals and plan for the future. (141/160)
- As a bank and financial services company, it’s logical for Merrill Lynch to target users searching for financial planning tools.
- This meta description directly aligns with the headline, so users searching for financial planning tools will find this combo highly relevant to their needs.
- It also includes a clear value proposition about what users will gain from visiting the page—assistance in staying on track with financial goals and planning for the future.
- Even if users don’t click on the link, the description further associates Merrill Lynch’s brand as the right place for people to meet their financial planning and needs. That builds trust and credibility.
- Search term: “resume writing services”
- Headline: Professional Resume Writing Service
- Meta Description: Looking for professional resume help? TopResume’s expert resume writers can help you build a resume that gets more interviews, guaranteed. (139/160)
- TopResume’s mission is to help people find jobs faster. Resume writing is one of their services, so they want to rank high in searches for those exact keywords.
- This description fits well within the 160-character limit while communicating all the relevant information people need to know about what’s inside.
- It presents a clear value proposition—expert resume writers who can help them get more interviews. It also includes a guarantee that boosts customer confidence.
- The CTA is implied but effective, promising users that they’ll find a solution to their problem (aka getting more interviews) by visiting the site.
- Search term: “how to meditate”
- Headline: Learn How to Meditate: A Mindful Guide …
- Meta Description: Meditation is something everyone can do, here’s how. · 1) Take a seat. Find place to sit that feels calm and quiet to you. · 2) Set a time limit · 3) Notice (156/160)
- As a magazine all about mindfulness and meditation, Mindful would want to rank highly in search results for people who want to learn how to get into it.
- This description uses simple and straightforward language, which makes it accessible to a broad audience, including people who might be completely new to meditation.
- By starting with the statement, “meditation is something everyone can do, here’s how,” the description directly engages the reader by creating a sense of inclusivity and encouragement.
- It includes actionable content in the form of practical steps that users can follow. In the process, it lets people know the page can meet their search needs.
8. Cambridge in Colour
- Search term: “digital photography tutorials”
- Headline: Digital Photography Tutorials
- Meta Description: Learn how to take and edit digital photographs using visual tutorials that emphasize concept over procedure, independent of specific digital camera or lens. (157/160)
- Cambridge in Colour calls itself a learning community for photographers, so ranking well for digital photography terms makes good business sense.
- The copy clearly communicates the relevance of the content to the user. They can expect to find tutorials for taking and editing photos upon clicking.
- This meta description also includes a unique selling point (USP), which emphasizes content over procedure. The reader immediately knows they can expect an in-depth and holistic learning experience.
- By mentioning that the tutorials are not dependent on a specific camera or lens, the meta description is more inviting to photographers with all kinds of equipment. This makes the search results appeal to a bigger audience.
9. Wellness Mama
- Search term: “DIY beauty products”
- Headline: 7 Simple DIY Beauty Products to Make at Home
- Meta Description: 7 Simple DIY Beauty Products to Make at Home · 1. Deodorant · 2. Makeup · 3. Lotion · 4. Sea Salt Hair Spray · 5. Dry Shampoo · 6. Body Scrubs · 7. Face Wash/ (158/160)
- This description is right up there at the character limit, giving Wellness Mama the maximum real estate possible for a meta description.
- All seven products in the article are in the description, which lets users know exactly what they’ll find when navigating the page.
- By mentioning the various beauty products included—from deodorant to face wash—this description makes the content appealing to a broader audience than those looking for just one item.
- Using numbers in the description provides a structured approach so that users know they’ll be able to navigate easily once they land on the page.
- Search term: “learn languages online”
- Headline: Duolingo – The world’s best way to learn a language
- Meta Description: With our free mobile app or web and a few minutes a day, everyone can Duolingo. Learn 30+ languages online with bite-size lessons based on science. (147/160)
- Achieving a high ranking for a term like “learn languages online” is a no-brainer for an app like Duolingo that gamifies online language learning.
- This description aligns perfectly with the search term, which makes it highly relevant to users searching for online language learning platforms.
- Just by reading the meta description, users can clearly understand what to expect from the app—the ability to learn more than 30 languages through tiny lessons.
- With phrases like “world’s best way to learn a language” and “based on science,” Duolingo is using its meta description to establish credibility immediately.
- Search term: “gardening tips for beginners”
- Headline: 10 Top Gardening Tips for Beginners
- Meta Description: Start with great soil. … When starting a garden, one of the top pieces of advice is to invest in soil that is nutrient-rich and well-drained. Achieve this just (162/160)
- Miracle-Gro deals in soils, plant foods, and other garden-related products. The content it creates attracts folks interested in gardening, so it’s no wonder it ranks at the top for beginner tips.
- Starting with the first tip is a great way to preview the article and engage people with the content immediately. It’s also worth pointing out that the description conveniently speaks directly to Miracle-Gro’s main value proposition—improving soil health.
- The description is aimed directly at the target audience of beginner gardeners. This shows relevance and encourages clicks.
- The description is slightly beyond the character limit. But it includes a complete sentence followed by a couple of words to tease the rest of the content.
- Search term: “DIY home improvement projects”
- Headline: 50 DIY Home Improvement Projects to Tackle This Weekend
- Meta Description: 50 DIY Home Improvement Projects to Tackle This Weekend · Paint the Front Door · Classic Carriage Doors (on the Cheap) · Install a Shiplap Accent Wall · Set the (160/160)
- As a TV channel with programming focused on all things home-and-garden-related, ranking well for a search query like “DIY home improvement projects” will help attract HGTV’s audience.
- The headline and description hint at the massive value and variety people will find inside—50 different projects.
- It also specifies that the projects are simple enough to finish in a weekend, which sets expectations and shows users the content will be relevant to their needs.
- The description gives specific examples of the kinds of projects included and ends abruptly with a cliffhanger to encourage clicks.