SEO Friendly Meta Description Creation Guide

Learn how to build a good and SEO-friendly Meta description for help on your page rank and site results with this meta creation guide.

Updated on August 28, 2022
SEO Friendly Meta Description Creation Guide

Check the best SEO-friendly Meta description creation guide for help with your page rank and position. Meta elements have many uses and can be constructed in several ways. First and foremost, a good meta description entices the user to click. It does that both by containing enticing, well-readable text and the keyword or keyphrase, as that becomes bold in the search results.

SEO Friendly Meta Description

Our view of that meta description hasn’t changed much over the years. In 2011, Joost wrote about attending an SMX panel titled “What’s important for technical SEO?”. In it was Jonathan Hochman. Jonathan touched on one of our pet peeves: he mentioned retrofitting an old CMS to have meta descriptions by auto-generating the meta description using the first 150 characters of each article. We’re no fans of that solution. It was one of the features in All in One SEO that Joost hated so much that he decided to start building something better, being the basis for the current Yoast SEO plugin.

Most of the time, the first paragraph of an article is an introduction leading toward the article’s conclusion. It doesn’t contain a summary of the article or a trigger to continue to read. At Yoast, we agreed on making that first paragraph into a combined intro and overview. Our SEO analysis will tell you if the focus keyword you picked is in that first paragraph.

We feel that the first paragraph of an article should be on-topic. If you don’t make sure it is, the first 150 characters of your first paragraph are probably not usable as SEO meta descriptions. It will most likely not even contain the focus keyword for your post. That means you won’t get bold for that term in the search results, nor would it be enticing to click on.

What To Add?

Firstly, remember to add the focus keyword naturally. Avoid being robotic or mechanic only to gain the green light on SEO. Remember, you write for people, not for robots or Google alone. In addition, think about adding a call to action.

The correct length does not exist. It depends on the message you want to convey. You should allow enough space to get the news but simultaneously keep it short and sweet. However, when you look at search results in Google, you’ll mostly see snippets between 120 and 156 characters, as in the example below.

Unfortunately, we don’t completely control what Google displays in search results. Sometimes it decides to show the meta tag. Sometimes, it just grabs a few sentences of your copy. Either way, it’s best to keep it short. If Google decides to display the SEO friendly meta description you write, it won’t truncate it in this way.

SEO Can’t Be Done In Auto-Pilot!

We dislike this “auto-generation” idea so much, especially for content sites, because it makes people think that SEO is something you can do on auto-pilot. You simply can not. A good SEO plugin can undoubtedly help you take care of the technical boundaries that might exist. But creating link-worthy content is the process that will help you get rankings all the time. Auto-generating a meta description has never served any purpose to anyone just yet.

One might argue that while auto-generating meta descriptions aren’t the best practice for SEO, it might help your social efforts. On the other hand, social media goes the same as meta descriptions. Poor snippets would get you low click-throughs too. Using the first 150 characters as the description for your Facebook post is probably not the best practice either. So, you should always write a decent description and/or excerpt for your posts. It will help both your mentions on Google and social media.

Your Meta Descriptions Creation Guide

Meta descriptions

In our Yoast SEO plugin, the meta description gets a lot of emphasis. It receives that emphasis for a reason: it changes things. Moreover, an excellent meta tag with a good title and a decent post URL makes for a result that people want to click on. Under your post, you can check what your search result will look like:

Snippet preview, including the meta description, from Yoast SEO plugin following the creation guide

Snippet preview, including the meta description, from Yoast SEO plugin following the creation guide

This is entirely different when you’re talking about an eCommerce system. In that case, you can use many variables from your products to create good, readable meta descriptions that offer information the searcher and sharer would be looking for.

Social Descriptions in the Yoast SEO Plugin Creation Guide

Nowadays, the Yoast SEO plugin also has built-in support for specifying social snippets. This means you can add platform-specific descriptions for Twitter and Facebook and tailor-made meta descriptions. The social snippets use the meta description in case these social snippets are left blank but remember that Twitter, for instance, uses 140 characters. Your SEO friendly meta description could be a bit longer.

The best practice is to manually insert an attractive meta description, a well-written tweet, and an inviting Facebook text. Accompany text with tailor-made illustrations or images that fit the platform’s preferred dimensions. You can also test whether your audience responds best to a longer descriptive Facebook text (which will get a “See more” link in Facebook timelines) or a shorter description with a clear call to action.

A Meta Description is a Suggestion

In all this, we’d like to add one significant fact about meta descriptions. In 2009 Google mentioned that the meta description you insert is a suggestion. If Google finds it better than the snippet they would have picked, they will display it. The snippet that Google determines is a snippet containing the keyword people used in Google, so you really should make sure that (focus) keyword is in your meta description as well. If your meta description isn’t displayed in Google’s search result pages, see what snippet they use. In addition, check how you could use that snippet to improve your SEO friendly meta description.

One More Ting

If you worry so much about meta descriptions, please worry about what the rest of your snippet will look like. The URL for this post is. Keep it short and on-topic. It’ll ensure your URLs are easier and friendlier to share on social media and look at on a search result page. Finally, good SEO takes thinking about all of these aspects and can not be replaced by a simple substring command.