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First impressions set expectations, foundational thoughts through which all future ideas are filtered. If that sounds meta, you are ready to understand meta descriptions.

Defining meta description

A meta description is a website’s introduction. It is the description that appears below a link in search results when someone searches for your organization, or a keyword with which you are associated. Meta descriptions are no longer relevant to SEO robots, but they inform humans whether they should click on your site or not, which is very relevant to the success and effectiveness of your organization.

Effective meta description. Insider tip: Puppies make for the best marketing.
Effective meta description. Who wouldn’t click this link?

Rules to using


You have about 159 characters to convince someone to click on your website. However, search engines can place additional parameters, such as a publish date, in addition to the description, so a good benchmark is to ensure the essential information is within 135-150 characters.


Your description should describe the content and mission of your website – that seems obvious, but in your attempt to get people to click your link, you may go astray. How do you introduce yourself without the fluff? Write a draft of your description, then read it out loud and ask a friend what they think you are describing – if it sounds like you, great!


Each page of your website can have its own description. The Resource landing page can have a different description than your Donate page, than your Staff bio page. This makes sense as the motivation to click on each is different for a user. If that seems overwhelming, start with your homepage, and prioritize the main landing pages/entry points to your site.

Bonus Points:

Place your keywords closer to the beginning of your description for greater impact. Avoid using quotation marks as this communicates that you want the words within the quotations to be cut off.

How to use meta descriptions

There are many ways to introduce yourself. The way you choose impacts the way you are perceived. The same is true for how you introduce your organization through your meta description. Ensure that the way you write your description is accurate and informative, but not purely rambling off facts. Use action words that tell someone what they can do if they click on your website. Let them know the benefit by answering their “what’s in it for me?” question.

This is your opportunity to inform people of who you are, how you make a difference in the world, and why that should matter to them. Your description should be written in the personality and tone of your organization. When someone clicks the link, the website they land on should match their expectations, and they expect you to be awesome!


We like the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin. It keeps things nice and tidy, with performance motivating checks that give us instant feedback and intuitive managing. It saves us time and mental space.

Another plugin option for WordPress is the All in One SEO Pack.

If your website is on Drupal, you can set this through the Configuration, Search and Metadata section with the Metatag module, or consider using the Drupal SEO Tools module.

Claire Kennedy headshot
Claire Kennedy
Claire values context, creativity, and joy. She uses these skills to help causes invest in the good of others.