Search engines play a crucial role in connecting users to the content they seek in the vast expanse of the digital world, where information is abundant, and websites are plentiful.
As internet users, we're all familiar with the process of entering a query into a search engine and being presented with a list of relevant results.
But have you ever wondered how search engines manage to display brief, informative snippets for each page listed? That's where "meta descriptions" come into play. In this comprehensive step-by-step guide, we will unravel the mystery behind meta descriptions and learn how to find meta descriptions of a page.
Plus, we'll provide tips to write them for search engines efficiently. Let's start by understanding what meta descriptions are.
What Is a meta description?
A meta description is an HTML element designed to offer a concise overview of a web page. It appears as part of the search snippet on search engine result pages (SERPs) and aims to provide users with insight into the page's content and its relevance to their search query. It is an important on-page SEO ranking factor.
(Check out the best meta description checker tools out there).
Meta description example
Here's a preview to help you understand.
The meta description is visible in the SERP snippet, positioned just below the clickable title tag (page title) and the breadcrumb path of the page.
Conversely, this is how this specific meta description would look in HTML.
<meta name= "description" content=" Content optimization is an organic way to reach a wider audience. Read on to know some key insider strategies for optimizing different content types.">
Ideal length of meta description
While Meta descriptions can technically have varying lengths, Google typically truncates snippets to approximately 155-160 characters. Ideally, your Meta descriptions should be long enough to be descriptive. The best practice is to aim between 120 to 160 characters. The latter is the maximum length you shouldn't cross.
However, remember that the "optimal" length may differ based on the context, and your main focus should be on offering value and encouraging clicks.
Why are meta descriptions important for SEO?
Meta descriptions, also known as SEO meta descriptions, do not directly influence search engine rankings as Google doesn't consider them in its ranking algorithm.
However, these meta descriptions still hold significance for SEO. They play a crucial role in generating snippets that provide valuable information to searchers about your page, enabling you to distinguish yourself from competitors on the Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
Crafting an effective snippet can lead to more clicks on your link, ultimately boosting your click-through rate (CTR). Moreover, well-crafted meta descriptions can enhance brand awareness, positively impacting your overall SEO efforts.
Read on to learn how to find a meta description of a page using different techniques.
Step-by-step guide to finding the meta description
For those wondering how to find the meta description of a page, here's an easy step-by-step listing.
Method 1: View page source
- Open your preferred web browser and navigate to the desired webpage.
- Access the page source by right-clicking anywhere on the page and selecting "View Page Source" or using the keyboard shortcut "Ctrl+U" (Windows) or "Cmd+Option+U" (macOS).
- Locate the meta description by searching for "<meta content'" in the page source using "Ctrl+F" (Windows) or "Cmd+F" (macOS).
- The text next to it is the meta description of the web page.
Method 2: Using SEO plug-ins
Another answer to how to find a meta description of a page is SEO plug-ins.
- Install an SEO plugin for your CMS (e.g., Yoast SEO).
- Activate the plug-in in your CMS dashboard.
- Navigate to the page editor.
- Locate the "Meta Description" field in the SEO plug-in settings.
- View or edit the meta description, ensuring it reflects the page content.
- Save the changes to update the meta description.
(Here are some of the best SEO plug-ins for WordPress to check out).
Method 3: Browser extensions
You can also use browser extensions to find meta descriptions. Wondering how to find the meta description of a page using a browser extension? Here's how.
- Choose and install an SEO browser extension like "SEOquake" or "MozBar" from your browser's extension store (e.g., Chrome Web Store).
- Activate it by granting permission or signing in with your SEO tool account.
- Visit the desired webpage and access SEO information, including the meta description, in a section labeled "Description" or "Meta Description.
Method 4: Content Management Systems (CMS)
Many CMSs or Content Management Systems provide the option to modify this markup and alter the meta description, either by directly editing the code or using the meta description field in the page's metadata settings.
5 tips for writing meta descriptions
Now that you know how to find a page's meta description, let's learn how to make an SEO meta description. In this section, we'll offer some useful tips to follow.
Consider meta description length
The right length for your meta description depends on what you want to convey. It's best to be concise yet effective. Google search results usually show snippets of around 120 to 156 characters, like the example below. While you can make your meta descriptions longer, remember that only about 155 characters will be visible in the SERPs.
Anything longer will be cut off. So, aim to strike a balance between brevity and delivering your message effectively.
Add the primary keyword
It is vital to add the primary or target keyword to your meta description tag. When the search keyword matches a portion of the meta description, Google is more likely to use and emphasize it in the search results.
This can make your site's link more appealing to users. Google may even highlight synonyms on occasion. This further enhances the visibility and attractiveness of your site in the search results.
Cater to search intent
Writing an effective meta description hinges on grasping the searcher's intent, that is, understanding what they aim to achieve with their search.
Before crafting meta descriptions, conduct a search intent analysis to understand user needs and, subsequently, ensure that your content fulfills those requirements to reassure searchers.
(Here are some of the best search intent tools for experts and marketers you can consider).
Include calls to action
CTAs, known as Calls to Action, serve as prompts for searchers, indicating their next course of action. Utilize these imperative sentences in your meta descriptions to encourage clicks.
- Explore now
- Get started
- Download now
- Sign up today
- Keep reading
By incorporating CTAs in your meta descriptions, you can create concise, captivating, and persuasive content that motivates readers to take action. Here's how we used a ‘Download your PDF’ CTA for one of our ebook pages.
Make every meta description unique
Craft a distinctive meta description for each of your indexable pages to effectively communicate the content and purpose of the page to users in Google search results. By doing so, you can optimize your click-through rate (CTR) and enhance the overall user experience.
Avoid using generic or duplicate meta descriptions, as they fail to provide valuable insights about the unique content on each page.
Read our learn to optimize meta description tag for more information on making your meta descriptions stand out.
Bonus: Use Scalenut to create SEO-optimized meta descriptions
Besides following the tips mentioned above, you can also rely on Scalenut, an AI-powered SEO and content marketing platform, to create SEO-optimized meta description tags.
Scalenut offers a free meta description generator tool that allows you to generate SEO-friendly meta tags for your blogs or web pages. All it requires from your end is the blog title, focus keywords and a brief description.
Once you enter these inputs, the tool generates various engaging and optimized meta descriptions that you can choose from.
Scalenut also has a Content Optimizer that checks if the meta description tag is optimized for search engines. It does so by ensuring that the meta description contains the primary keyword and is within the suggested character limit. Try the tool today by signing up.
By following the outlined steps in our how-to-find meta description of a page guide, marketers can easily locate and optimize meta descriptions to create more engaging, informative, and appealing snippets that entice users and contribute to the overall success of a website or online presence.
Is there any way to get my existing pages to have good meta descriptions?
Yes, review each page's content and create concise, relevant, and compelling meta descriptions that accurately represent the page's content and encourage click-throughs. You can use Scalenut's free meta description generator and Content Optimizer tools for the same.
How do I set up a meta description for my homepage?
Add a meta description tag within the <head> section of your homepage's HTML tag code to set up a meta description for your homepage. Keep it brief (around 150-160 characters) and engaging to entice users to visit your site.
How do I extract meta description from a website?
You can extract a website's meta description by viewing the page's source code and searching for the <meta content> tag. The content within this tag represents the meta description for that page.