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The Meta Description Element for SEO

Meta Descriptions are used to provide a brief summary of a page's content, generally in 160 characters or less. The meta descriptions are not seen by a viewer but is often extracted by search engines to display on their results page. Here, we'll discuss how important this type of meta-data is for SEO and how to write optimal descriptions.

Page Content
Metadata and Page Details
Metadata and Page Details
Creator: Devin Peterson
Date: Created 01/02/2014
Subject: Additional Information, Meta Tags, Page Descriptions, SERP Snippets, SEO
Publisher: DNM Int'l
Peer Review:
Citation: Peterson, D. (2014), "Meta Descriptions", Retrieved (date), from

What is a Meta Description?

The meta description tag is an element of metadata that search engines use primarily as a "snippet" to display in the search results. Other systems may use this tag for different purposes. The description is often read by a user (via the SERPS) before they click on your link, therefore it's primary function is to be a call to action. It should lure the reader in by providing just enough to detail for them to be sure the following page will contain the information they seek.

General Rules for Writing a Meta Description

SEO "Experts" Opinion

"Although the meta description is not directly considered in many search engine's algorithms, it plays a key role in affecting CTR (click-through-rate) and should therefore deserve a lot of attention and thought when implementing this tag."

Common Questions

How do we know that Google doesn't consider meta descriptions?

We don't know for sure, but they have hinted at the idea that the indirect effect of descriptions is enough of an impact on user clicks that it should not need further attention to adjust rankings even more.