A meta description is a brief summary of a webpage’s content.

This description is typically displayed in search engine results pages (SERPs) underneath the page title and URL.

example of standard search snippet with meta description highlighted

The purpose of a meta description is to give users and search engines a concise overview of what the webpage is about, helping them decide whether the content is relevant to their search query.

Modern website platforms like WordPress and Drupal provide a blank field for users to type their description into. Then the website software automatically adds related HTML code to that description.

A meta description is technically an HTML element even though the term is used for a web page’s textual description. After a textual description is added to a page, the meta description tag is automatically placed in the section of a webpage’s HTML code and looks like this:

meta name="description" content="A brief description of the webpage's content goes here.">

How do Meta Descriptions Impact SEO?

  • Click-through rates (CTR): While meta descriptions don’t directly impact search rankings, they can influence click-through rates. A well-written, compelling meta description can entice users to click on the search result, driving more traffic to the website.
  • Keyword relevance: Including relevant keywords in the meta description can help reinforce the webpage’s relevance to specific search queries. However, it’s important not to stuff keywords unnaturally, as this can be seen as spammy.
  • User engagement: By accurately describing the webpage’s content, meta descriptions help users find the information they’re looking for quickly. This can lead to better user engagement, reduced bounce rates, and positive user experience signals, which can indirectly benefit SEO.

Best practices for crafting meta descriptions:

  • Keep it concise: Meta descriptions should typically be a maximum of 160 characters long to avoid being truncated in search results.
  • Make it compelling: Highlight the webpage’s unique value proposition to encourage users to click through.
  • Ensure relevance: The meta description should accurately reflect the webpage’s content and include relevant keywords where appropriate.
  • Avoid duplication: Each webpage should have a unique meta description to avoid confusion for users and search engines.

While search engines may choose to display a different description in search results based on the user’s query, a well-optimized meta description can still help improve click-through rates and drive relevant traffic to a website.

Optimizing Meta Descriptions in WordPress

In addition to following the guidelines above, WordPress users can use All in One SEO (AIOSEO) to optimize their meta descriptions.

All in One SEO will check your meta description to ensure its within a 160-character limit, and that you’ve used your focus keyword in the description.

aioseo meta description field

AIOSEO also offers an AI-powered meta description generator. This provides you with 5 editable options per button click.


How to Write Meta Descriptions for SEO
How to Use a Meta Description Generator in WordPress