How to use Yoast SEO to create an awesome meta description

How to use Yoast SEO
to write an awesome meta description

How to use Yoast SEO to write an awesome meta description

You’d like people to click on your result in Google rather than on the result of one of your competitors. That’s why you need to make sure your search result (a.k.a. your snippet) stands out from all of the other ones. So, how do you do that? How do you write an awesome meta description? How do you make people click your snippet? Here, I’ll tell you all about how to use Yoast SEO to write an awesome meta description. 

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What is a meta description?

A meta description is a description you manually add to your blog post or page. And it tells the reader (and the search engine) what your post is about. It contains up to 320 characters that summarizes a page’s content. Generally, search engines show the meta description in the snippet when the searched phrase is in the description. 

Recent changes

Google changed the rules concerning meta descriptions not that long ago. Nowadays, meta descriptions can be up to 320 characters. We’re currently carrying out research to figure out whether a 320 character meta description or the old fashioned 160 character meta description is the most SEO-friendly.

To be totally fair, Google certainly does not always show the meta description, even if you add one to your article with Yoast SEO. Sometimes Google just decides otherwise and generates something else. Google always wants to show the word people are searching for in the meta description. They usually light up in the snippet. Make sure you’ve done your keyword research properly and use the words people are searching for in your meta description. That’ll increase the chance of Google showing your kick-ass meta description.

Using Yoast SEO for your meta description

You can edit your meta description in the snippet preview in the Yoast meta box, that you’ll find under your post or page. If you want to write one, you should click on the “edit snippet” button. If you do that, the snippet editor will open. You’ll see input fields to edit the SEO title, the slug and the meta description: 

If you start typing in the meta description field, the snippet preview at the top of the snippet editor will also immediately show your new text. Underneath the meta description input field, there is a bar. It’s orange when you start typing and will become green when you’ve added enough information.

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What happens if you do not write one?

If you do not write a meta description, Google will generate one. That could be the first paragraph of your blog post, but it could be something else as well. We’d advise you to write one because it’ll increase the chances of showing an appealing snippet. This will positively affect the click-through rate (how many people click on your snippet). In many cases, however, Google will decide to show something else.

If you do not do anything with the meta description field in the Yoast SEO plugin, the snippet preview in the Yoast SEO plugin will still show a meta description. This one however, is NOT saved as a meta description by our plugin. It’s just an example for what your snippet could look like. 

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Don’t forget it!

It is important to create a good meta description. You should definitely make an effort of writing a good one. Google is getting more and more capable of determining the topic of texts. If Google decides to show something else, it’s usually not a very bad description. Still, a properly crafted meta description can increase the chances of people clicking on your snippet. And using Yoast SEO to write a meta description will help you influence that. So you just have to make the effort to write a good one!

Read more: ‘SEO basics: How to optimize a blog post’ »


43 Responses to How to use Yoast SEO to write an awesome meta description

  1. Last Baff
    By Last Baff on 9 April, 2018

    Thanks for this detailed explanation. I find it helpful given that I use Yoast plugin on some of my blogs.

  2. Janet Hartman
    By Janet Hartman on 7 April, 2018

    Thank you for clearing the fog over meta descriptions.

  3. rosfilm
    By rosfilm on 7 April, 2018

    Hello
    Thank you for the great plugin that you builtUndoubtedly, this plugin has had a great transformation on our SEO sitebe successful and victorious

  4. Mani Zunis
    By Mani Zunis on 3 April, 2018

    Yes i have seen it with my website… Google displays sometimes random meta description from the post and sometimes it displays meta’s from Yoast. Length of the Meta has also been increased…..

  5. Ernest
    By Ernest on 1 April, 2018

    After using Yoast SEO to edit my meta description, I’ve seen much improvement in my search traffic. Yoast SEO plugin is simply the best.

    • willemien
      By willemien on 3 April, 2018

      Thanks, Ernest! Glad it works so well for you

  6. Serguei Kireev
    By Serguei Kireev on 1 April, 2018

    it seems like length keeps varying, or am i just imagining it? sometimes plugin allows for long one, but sometimes marks it read too long after normal 160.. i don’t get it..

  7. Mohammed Hasan Tareq
    By Mohammed Hasan Tareq on 1 April, 2018

    Conclusive writing about meta description. I will now able to write a meta description more correctly.

  8. Onome
    By Onome on 1 April, 2018

    I often use the meta description box and with the green signal, I’m sure I often do it right. Thanks!

  9. Imran khan
    By Imran khan on 1 April, 2018

    I am using yoast from 3 years this is very perfect plugin for my websites. About that post i think meta description is useful but more important is you content and content is king of your websites. I posted some article without meta description and they all perform very well in google. In my opinion meta description in important but content is more important then meta

    • willemien
      By willemien on 3 April, 2018

      Hi Imran, your content is most important for sure, because that’s what readers are searching for. Your meta description could help you (when displayed) to increase the click-through rate though.

  10. Rick Rouse
    By Rick Rouse on 1 April, 2018

    When I first started using the Yoast SEO plugin I didn’t even notice the meta box. Then one day I happened to scroll down and see it so I gave it try by writing my own meta descriptions for several of my blog’s most popular posts.

    Within a few days my search traffic from those pages increased by about 20% on average. I was convinced.

    My blog has over 3,000 posts so it would take forever to change the meta descriptions for all of them at once, so I won’t. My approach is to pick a few posts each week and update their meta descriptions (primarily while I’m updating the post content anyway).

    Thanks so much for creating (and maintaining) such an awesome plugin!

    • willemien
      By willemien on 3 April, 2018

      Hi Rick, Awesome that it works so well for you. Your strategy to add them sounds like an efficient approach!

  11. Qassim Hassan
    By Qassim Hassan on 31 March, 2018

    Good! Thank you.

  12. Dala Williams
    By Dala Williams on 31 March, 2018

    I have been using for more than 2 years to create and optimize meta description of my word press post. It also helps me to boost my SEO score in lot of ways.

  13. SALMAN
    By SALMAN on 31 March, 2018

    Hello
    Do you think it is ok to fill meta description with keywords and not sentences?

    • willemien
      By willemien on 3 April, 2018

      Hi Salman, that’s not ok. If you fill the meta description with just keywords people won’t be enticed to click on your result. It’s better to nicely describe what they can find on the page.

  14. Smooth
    By Smooth on 31 March, 2018

    I use to write meta descriptions but now I am trying yoast plug in and I don’t see an option to write a meta tag.
    I always get an alert stating I don’t have one, along with a preview of generated snippet.
    I have never seen this screen you show.
    I use genesis theme btw and yoast seemingly overrides any options I had available before.
    Where do I find the options you show above?

  15. Peter Lawrence
    By Peter Lawrence on 31 March, 2018

    Where are the hints on writing a great meta description? The article only states that you should manually include a meta description rather than leaving it up to Google to do it for you. I am no more wiser on how to create an awesome meta description. However Yoast is an awesome plugin

  16. Eddie Christian Aguilar Kleimann
    By Eddie Christian Aguilar Kleimann on 30 March, 2018

    Hello!
    I advice also adding advice about what to say in the Meta Description. For me this is the rule: It has to be 1) Descriptive and 2) Attractive 3) in line with the keywords.

    You can add a call to action sometimes. “Here you will find all about KEYWORDS ….”

  17. Martin
    By Martin on 30 March, 2018

    So, we have snippets (meta description) and Google Snippets, two different things?

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      By Willemien Hallebeek on 3 April, 2018

      Hi Martin, it’s the same: a snippet consists – at least – of the title, URL and meta description.

  18. Tiago Piriquito
    By Tiago Piriquito on 30 March, 2018

    Hello Guys,
    I’m getting some troubles with meta descriptions on my woocommerce store. I use a variable to capture each product description to not copy each one to all my 200 products but on sitemaps, seo audits, rich pins, etc..becomes invisible. Looks like the search engines can’t process the variable and read the variable. Can you give me some help in this topic?
    Many thanks,
    Tiago

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      By Willemien Hallebeek on 5 April, 2018

      Hi Tiago, Do you have Premium? If that’s the case, then please contact our support team, as they can help you out.

  19. Ruud
    By Ruud on 30 March, 2018

    Hi, the headline of the article triggered me to read it. But i was disapointed when i did so. It’s about the use of the plugin. That’s OK but i expected some examples and tips how to write an awesome metadiscription. Maybe the nexttime an article how to write a metadiscription which triggers to click?

    • willemien
      By willemien on 3 April, 2018

      Hi Ruud, sorry if you felt disappointed! We meant this article as an instruction how to use the meta description field. But we did publish an article on how to write an awesome description already, please find it here: https://yoast.com/meta-descriptions/

  20. Manjula Krishna
    By Manjula Krishna on 30 March, 2018

    I am new to the SEO world. Yoast plugin is helping me a lot in optimizing my blog for search engines starting from meta desc to reading analysis. Thanks a lot.

  21. Suresh Dubey
    By Suresh Dubey on 30 March, 2018

    Hi,
    Very informative, I was struggling to identify why Google is not showing meta description that I have provided in the Yoast. It’s very clear now.
    Many Thanks.

  22. Ronald Franklin
    By Ronald Franklin on 30 March, 2018

    Please keep the wording in your content clean and professional. Remember that some readers find vulgar language offensive, and are not prepared to encounter it in professional communications. If nothing else, this is a courtesy readers should be able to expect.

  23. Morgan K. Barraco
    By Morgan K. Barraco on 30 March, 2018

    I think there are differences between three different types of parameters.

    1) meta description for web serp
    2) meta description for mobile research
    3) meta description for google news

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      By Willemien Hallebeek on 3 April, 2018

      Thanks for the addition, Morgan. Could you explain a bit more?

  24. Annie
    By Annie on 30 March, 2018

    Yoast is the best tool for WordPress and thx for share this useful information.

  25. Jumedeen khan
    By Jumedeen khan on 30 March, 2018

    Awesome article but after upgrading yoast seo 7.1 I faced duplicate title and meta description issue on pagination and categories. I already noindex pagination and category but after 10 days problem steel here. How I fix this issue?

  26. Digember
    By Digember on 30 March, 2018

    Nice post but I was expecting more from the SEO tip perspective. I think starting your snippet with a question is a great way to attract the attention of viewers to get more clicks from the search results. I have seen in the past that adding steps in the meta description helps to rank higher.

    • stephanie
      By stephanie on 30 March, 2018

      Good point! I too expected a bit more than a sales pitch to upgrade to the paid version of yoast. Asking a question, as with IG posts is a great idea. When you say “adding steps” would you mind clarifying? I’m intrigued!

      • Willemien Hallebeek
        By Willemien Hallebeek on 3 April, 2018

        Hi Digember! There’s another article in which we explain how to write a great meta description: https://yoast.com/meta-descriptions/, but I’m also curious what you mean with these steps. Stephanie, the meta description is a free feature of Yoast SEO, no need to upgrade if you want just that. This post was merely meant as an instruction on how to use it :-)

  27. Up SEO
    By Up SEO on 29 March, 2018

    With the recent Google changes about the length of the description in search results, I think the Yoast it’s the best solution for WordPress websites when we talking about writing the description and not only. Great job with the last plugin updates!

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      By Willemien Hallebeek on 30 March, 2018

      Thanks!


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