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Meta Description SEO Best Practices and Generation Guide

by Andreas Voniatis Founder. Fractional SEO Consultant.

Meta descriptions are the visible piece of text below the page titles in search results. Unlike page titles, they are not used as a ranking signal. Copy in meta descriptions should be used to boost click through rate, but remain accurate as to reflect the content on the page, otherwise search engines may deem it too irrelevant and display text generated from the web page instead. To display correctly in desktop SERPs, meta descriptions must fit within 155 character length limit.

Other best practices include:

  • Summarise the web page in a fully representative and where possible, like prose
  • Using high performing ad copy from paid search campaigns
  • Motivate the user to click on your listing
  • Include a call to action

A quick and scalable solution for meta descriptions would be to adopt the following syntac:

<meta name="description" content="[first 155 characters of the body text]"/>. 

Missing Meta Descriptions

Although these aren’t strictly a direct ranking signal, these are presented to users in the search engine results as shown above and therefore could affect the click through rates.

Duplicate Meta Descriptions

Usually the result of duplicate content.

Meta Description Lengths

These are usually too short or too long.


Measuring Performance

Review the click through rates (CTRs) of your pages, sourced from Google Search Console (GSC) on a regular basis. Once, the pages reach the 1st page of the search engine results pages (SERPs). Consider rewriting, the descriptions that have CTRs below the segment average.


Generating Meta Descriptions

Deep learning can be used to create models that learn from your GSC data, your site content and meta descriptions by inferring good meta descriptions from bad to learn how to generate new meta descriptions on new pages you wish to create on your website.

This type of deep learning model is called a Recurring Neural Network (RNN) which requires enough examples (typically at least 1 million) meta descriptions and associated content to know how the descriptions should be written to achieve a high level of performance as we had achieved with Botify.

Some examples are printed showing our initial generated descriptions:

Human: Toolbox by Vitra
Machine: Shop for Toolbox by Vitra at John Lewis & Partners. Free UK mainland delivery when you spend £50 and over.

Human: Modern and elegant, Silk is a classic lighting series of hand-blown opal glass pendants, table lamps and floor lamps which are suspended on a delicate yet architectural brass stem.<p>The Silk pendant collection makes a dramatic impact when hung in a casca
Machine: Buy Silk Pendant Light With Similar products also available. SALE now on!

Since then of course our models have improved and we have more data if you’re interested in using our service.


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