Page summaries (Meta descriptions)

Along with the title, the page summary, or meta description, is usually what users see in search results so it should give them a clear indication of what the content is about. Make sure people can see quickly whether the page will have the information they need.

Keep all summaries to 250 characters (including spaces) as Google usually only shows the first 250 characters in search results. If your summary is longer, make sure you cover the main point of the page in the first 250 characters.

Summaries should end with a period. It can help people who use assistive technology like screen readers.

Answer the user’s question in the summary

People will easily find well-optimized content. If you have a simple answer to a question, put it in the summary. This means users do not need to leave Google (or whatever search engine they choose to use) to get their information.

Example

Most people want to know the cost of a fishing licence before they apply. We’ve put the price in the page summary so it appears in search results.

Title: Get a fishing licence

Summary: Buy a fishing licence online or in person. $15 per season for Yukon/Alaska residents; $25 for non-resident Canadians and $35 for non-resident aliens. 1-day and 6-day rates available. Free for seniors, youth under 16, First Nations and Inuvialuit.

Title: Report human-wildlife conflict

Summary: Call the TIPP line at 1-800-661-0525, email coservices@gov.yk.ca or contact your Department of Environment office.

Avoid confusion

Follow Yukon.ca writing guidelines to make page summary content clearer. Write like you’re talking to your user one-on-one, but with the authority of someone who can actively help.

Example

Bad summary example: Implementing the government’s four-pillar approach to climate change: 2015 progress report

Good summary example: How the government is addressing climate change in Yukon.

Avoid redundant introductory words

These do not tend to give the user any more information than what they would already assume.

Examples:

  • This engagement is about…
  • The purpose of this document…
  • A form to …

Remove as much as you can without losing critical information. Include keywords – especially ones you have not included in the page title.

Keep summaries active and include a verb. You can use words like ‘How…’, ‘What…’ and ‘When…’ to introduce active words, for example ‘When applying for a…’.

Example

Bad summary example: Please complete the attached form to apply to gain a licence to harvest firewood for personal use.

It’s better to get straight to the point of what a user can do with this content.

Good summary example: Get a licence to harvest firewood for personal use.

Do not repeat the title in the summary

Use the summary to give more information on what the content is about.

Example

Title example: Register for the Yukon hunter education course.

Bad summary example: How you can register and what’s involved in the Yukon hunter education course.

Good summary example: Free, mandatory course for Yukon hunters born after April 1, 1987. Includes 8 hours online work followed by a classroom session.

Last update:
Jun 6, 2019