Meta Description: Overview and Functions

The meta description of web pages is not a ranking factor, but it can significantly influence the number of clicks on search results. Here, you will find out what exactly a meta description is, why it is so important and what is essential when creating a meta description.

The meta description is a short text that summarises the content of HTML documents. It belongs to the meta tags and appears as follows in the head area of the source code:

<head> <meta name="description" content="Find out how to get more Google users on your page and how to create perfect meta descriptions with the free snippet generator!"> </head>

Most people are familiar with the meta description from the SERP snippets on Google or other search engines. Here it appears below the URL and the meta title of the respective page.

Example image for a search result on Google. The meta description is highlighted here.

How important are meta descriptions for SEO?

Good meta descriptions encourage people to click on a snippet and thus bring more visitors to the page behind it.

We therefore recommend that you make a point of creating good meta descriptions.

However, there is no guarantee that Google will use the meta description for snippets. A recent study of search results for 30,000 keywords showed that Google replaced the meta description with its own in around 70 percent of cases.

According to John Mueller from Google, there are 3 possible reasons for this:

  1. The meta description does not adequately describe the content of the page.
  2. Google tries to establish a stronger connection between the search query and the website if the meta description does not take into account an important part of the search query.
  3. Google tries to bring together the search query and the content of the page, and the meta description does not reflect the connection.

If website operators do not provide their own meta description, Google will also formulate one itself.

What are the essential factors for a good meta description?

The following factors are crucial for meta descriptions that Google takes over and that achieve higher click-through rates:

  • The length: The maximum length of a meta description is 990 pixels (desktop) and 1,300 pixels (mobile). This corresponds to around 165 and 118 characters. At the same time, a meta description should not be too short in order to convey enough important information.
  • The content: Make sure that your meta description accurately reflects the content of the page and addresses the intent of searchers. It should also contain the central keyword of the respective page.
  • Attention-grabbing text: Used sparingly and purposefully, special characters and emojis attract additional attention. It is important that they match the content and target group.

Through special formatting in the source code of pages, snippets can be supplemented with additional elements such as opening hours or ratings. These are called Rich Snippets.

Example image for a rich snippet. The search result is a Burger House in Manchester on the website. The result is displayed with a rating snippet. There are 5 stars under the meta description, 4 of which are highlighted in yellow.

A snippet generator can help you create meta descriptions. It shows you a preview of what the result will look like and informs you when the correct length has been reached.

How to set meta descriptions

The meta description is entered in the head of the relevant page. If you are using a common CMS such as WordPress, you do not have to edit the source code directly. Instead, you have the option of setting meta tags in the backend, for example by using a suitable plugin.


Although the meta description is not a ranking factor, it is a decisive factor for high click rates and traffic on web pages. It is therefore important to prioritise a good meta description when creating websites. Even then, however, there is no guarantee that Google will use your meta description for SERP snippets.

Case studies and relevant news