Using your keyphrase in your meta description

The Yoast SEO plugin’s SEO check provides feedback about your meta description. One of the requirements is that you mention your keyphrase in your meta description. Why does it matter? And: what does it take to turn that bullet green?

Let’s start off with the specific elements in this checks: the meta description and the focus keyword, also known as keyphrase. After that, we’ll dive into how to do this right.

What is a focus keyphrase?

A focus keyphrase is the search term you decide you want a page to rank for. People using that specific search term should find that specific page. You base your keyphrase on keyword research. Doing that enables you to figure out what words are actually used by people, and what related search queries there are. You might be able to answer to those too! Choosing the perfect focus keyphrase is not easy, it’s also not an exact science. You’re looking for a combination of words that suits your audience and has a relatively high search volume. So basically, find out what your audience is actually looking for so you can answer to it.

What is a meta description?

A meta description is a short piece of text, up to about 155 characters  — although Google sometimes likes to show longer descriptions. It’s what search engines often show in search results. Here’s an example of a meta description:keyword research training meta descriptionThe text within the pink border is the meta description of the page the link goes to. The purpose of the meta description is to entice searchers to click on your link. You want to get them to visit your website. Oftentimes, Google uses the meta description you offer. That’s why we urge you to write a good meta description, which includes your focus keyphrase.

 

Why is it important to use your keyphrase in your meta description?

First and foremost: if the search term people use matches text in the meta description, that pleases both Google and potential visitors. As Google is set on serving the best possible answer to a question, it’ll be more inclined to highlight that meta description in the search results. This should entice more people to click on your link as it stands out. Also, the recognition could work. If you are looking for something and according to the meta description, this page seems to be about exactly that, you’ll want to click.


Learn more about this check in Yoast SEO in our explanation of the keyphrase in meta description assessment.

How to get that green bullet

The check in the Yoast SEO plugin analyzes whether all (content) words from your keyphrase are used in your meta description. That means if you don’t mention it in the meta description at all, you’ll get a red bullet. You’ll also see a red score when you’ve used it too much: no one likes keyword stuffing. Your potential visitors don’t, and Google doesn’t.

You’ll get an orange score if you have mentioned all the words from your keyphrase in the meta description, just not within one sentence. Search engines are pretty smart nowadays, but you still need to make it clear that this is what your page is about. Your meta description is only short, about 155 characters. Make sure to use your keyphrase or focus keyword at a whole at least once in those 155 characters. Maybe twice, but no more than that. You’ll turn that bullet green in no time!

Using synonyms

We know that Google also understands synonyms, and highlights those too. Here’s an example:

Example of keyphrase synonyms highlighted in a meta description

We searched for “board game”, and Google seems to recognize “tabletop game” as a synonym. Make use of that! A few highlighted words draw more attention than just the one. Also, having different words highlighted looks less repetitive, which could be more attractive.

Our Yoast SEO Premium plugin also understands synonyms. It lets you enter synonyms and related keyphrases for your keyphrase, which are then taken into account when the plugin analyzes your content. This also works for the check of having your focus keyword in your meta description. If you’ve included your keyphrase and a synonym, that counts as two mentions.

Need some help deciding on your focus keywords?

Doing keyword research is a very important step in starting your SEO strategy. Do it right and it’ll help you improve traffic, sales, and user satisfaction. Find your niche, there might be golden opportunities waiting for you. Doing this research also helps you come up with a lot of subjects to create content about. Your keyword research sheet will be a great source of inspiration! Not sure how to conduct keyword research exactly? That’s alright, that’s why we offer a Keyword research training. We’ll walk you through the steps so at the end of the course, you have your own ready-to-use keyword research sheet!