Online Marketing Blog

Web design resources and news for small business owners in Snohomish and around the world.

Writing Effective Meta Descriptions

Writing Effective Meta Descriptions

Use a pointed and comprehensible message to help searchers find what they want

Internet users know precisely what they’re looking for on the search results page, and they know instinctively by reading your meta tags when your site is not it. This is totally fine, because you can only really hope to convert qualified leads, anyways. So we recommend doing the world, and yourself,a service. Focus on connecting to your ideal audience, and let the people you can’t serve scroll on by.All your meta description needs to do is communicate exactly what your page is offering, so searchers immediately know whether its the right one for them. Of course, there are good ways and bad ways to communicate the right information. Basic copy writing strategies apply. Indeed; they serve as a useful framework to make writing effective meta descriptions quick and easy. More on that below.

How many characters should a meta tag be

Description: 160 characters or less. The description will be truncated (aka cut off with three periods)at ~155 characters, as of the latest word in April 2020. That means you’re only going to get 1-3 sentences in, maybe more if you’re using clipped/abbreviated statements.

Title tag: 60 characters or less. This amounts to a brief sentence, about the length of this one (which is 62). For articles/blog posts, the title of the piece really ought to be the title tag. Use the title as the first sentence/phrase in your meta tag, with the actual description adding more info.

How to structure your meta tags: 3 basic rules

1. Know your ideal audience, and appeal to their self interest. Make sure the reader is the hero of the meta tag’s story. Rather than brag about what your website or company can do for them, illustrate what the reader is going to do with your content, product or service. People are more interested when the conversation is about them.

2. Focus on benefits rather than just features.Remember to do more than simply share what a product does --- clearly state how it benefits the reader. This is the difference between a 350hp motor,and a motor that the owner can do 0-60 in under 6 seconds with. Make sure the reader knows exactly what benefit is connected to your offering.

3. Include SEO-friendly words to help your page rank. This is something you do to make your page rank in the search results. You should have a bank of SEO-friendly words related to the subject matter that you can pull from. You can see a basic overview of how to build such a list here.

Writing meta tags will be at least somewhat intuitive. After all, you know what you look for in a metatag. You can constantly improve your meta tag game by being aware of what works and doesn’t work for you when you’re using a search engine. In the meantime, we recommend that you just be professional, inviting and helpful. Here is a sample meta tag for this post:

How important are great meta tags, and how much time you should spend on them?

Having effective meta tags themselves is very important, but having great ones is less important than having great content. The content is where the magic really happens, and an effective meta tag should only promise what the content can actually deliver. The more you do them, the faster you’ll get at them. We recommend this short video by Neil Patel on how long you should spend writing meta tags

A quick way to audit your existing meta tags

View all your meta tags in the search engine results page by using the following


All in all, meta descriptions are a good copy writing exercise. They challenge you to communicate what is most important and leave out the rest, which often reveals redundancy and unnecessary wording in your copy.