How to Add a Meta Description to a Website Page
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Technically speaking, meta descriptions are HTML tags that describe what a web page or post is about. For our purposes, let’s just say it’s a blurb, a preview, or a tagline that shows up in search results under the title and URL for the page.
Meta descriptions are one of the elements that signal to search engines (think: Google) that your site has what the user is searching for. Therefore, a meta description should persuade users that “this” is the best place to go for the information they are searching for and get them to click on it. Good meta descriptions will help you show up in search results.
How to Add a Meta Description Using the Yoast Plugin
After you have installed the plugin, create your page or blog post as usual. Once you’ve added the content, you will see the Yoast tools directly beneath your last block in the editor. We’re going to focus on the SEO tab, which is the first one, in the Yoast tool.
Toward the bottom on the SEO tab, you will see the heading “Meta Description” and a box where you can type the excerpt that will let visitors know what to expect when they visit the page.
How Easy Was that?
- Install the Yoast plugin (if you don’t already have it).
- Build your page or post.
- Log into your Dashboard.
- Select Page > New from the left-hand menu.
- Add your blocks of content. (See our blog if you need any help adding the different kinds of blocks!)
- Scroll down the editor page until you see the Yoast tools and find “Meta Description” on the SEO tab. Here’s a video that shows you in detail how the Yoast SEO tool works!
- Type your meta description in the box!
What Else You Need to Know about Meta Descriptions
Okay, so the adding of the meta description is the easy part. The slightly trickier part is knowing what to put in the meta description to make it effective. An effective meta description does two things: Helps search engines find the page and persuades the visitor to pick your URL from among the search results.
Meta Description Length
Oh yeah, and you need accomplish those two goals in 140-160 characters!
Yep. If your meta description is less than 140 characters, you probably haven’t left enough “bread crumbs” for search engines to “pick up what you’re putting down” or for visitors to think, “Yes! This is exactly what I was looking for!”
Meta descriptions longer than 160 characters will be cut off on the search results screen, leaving your visitors wondering what exactly you were trying to say. Don’t make it a mystery!
Meta Description Content
Speaking of mysteries, if you don’t craft a meta description and add it on the editor page, one will be automatically generated from the content to added to the page. That might sound great because: less work. But the auto-generated meta description is likely to be an incomplete thought pulled from the first paragraph of your content or something random in the middle the search engines think is important. DON’T leave your meta descriptions up to chance! YOU want to tell the search engines (and the people searching) what’s important on your page.
Include a Keyword
When you’re crafting your meta descriptions, including a keyword or key phrase gives search engines yet another clue to include your page in the search results.
Second that Emotion
At the beginning of this article, we said that a meta description is “blurb, preview, or tagline” for your page. That means it’s supposed to sell your page to people who are searching for the content you have to offer. It’s a pitch. You want it to stand out from the other options on the search result page. So, make it scream, “Pick me! Pick me!”
I’m writing this just after Super Bowl LV, and at least half the people I know want to buy a Jeep. Why? This ad. What’s the ad doing well? Appealing to our emotions.
You don’t have to pull the heartstrings like The Boss is doing for American car buyers. Just consider how people searching for you may be feeling – and how they want to feel. Work that in where you can!
Hey, we writers tend to love to be clever and come up with cute, fun, witty, etc. content. But your meta description is one area where you must “kill your darlings.” Clarity is more important than clever when it comes to your meta descriptions. Make it descriptive so that the benefit of visiting your webpage is obvious.
Don’t Duplicate, Duplicate, Duplicate
Finally, make sure each page on your website has a unique meta description. Using the same meta description for multiple pages on your site will confuse search engines and hurt your ranking. Even if you have several similar pages on your site, find a way to make their meta descriptions distinct from one another.
At the End of the Day….
Creating unique, persuasive, descriptive meta descriptions for every page on your site is but one of the many tools you have in your digital arsenal for helping search engines find your site. If you’d like to learn more about ways you can enhance your site and boost your search rankings, complete the form below, and we’ll send you a free website evaluation report. It’s filled with actionable tips you can apply right away to build a better, more findable website.