Meta Descriptions

What is a meta description?

A meta description is a brief summary of your web page that is embedded in its HTML code. While a meta description isn’t visually apparent when looking at the page, it is used by search engines to display your site in search results, along with your page title and URL. It is also used by social media sites in their page previews. (See “Naming Your Website and Webpages” for best practices for titles and URLs.) 

How can I add meta descriptions to my Cascade pages?

Web Services has made it easy! Just add a brief summary to the “Meta Description” field while editing your Cascade pages. Starting spring 2021, "Meta Description" is among the first few fields in each page’s edit pane.

The meta description field shown under the title and display in navigation fields.

Why is a meta description important? 

This is a key opportunity to market the University to external audiences--and well-written metadata will result in more traffic to your page. 

Google Search is the most common way users get to and navigate campus websites. More than 60% of users in 2020 go to Chico State websites using a search engine - and this number is growing every year. So optimizing what these users see in their search results is key to both marketing and student support.

People searching the web use the metadata from your website to decide whether a page contains the information that meets their needs. This is especially important for sites that are intended to attract prospective students or provide services to current students.

What makes a good meta description?

  • An accurate, concise description of page content

  • Between 50 and 150 characters

  • Includes keywords (words that people would have typed into the search bar)

  • Important text is at the beginning

  • Focused on what the audience is looking for


Here is an example of a well-written meta description for a university home page. Sac State uses this chance to showcase its strengths. 

google search of Sacramento State

Student Services

San Bernardino Valley College uses a meta description to clearly summarize what services its Office of Financial Aid provides to students. They also set the tone for a professional and helpful student experience.

San Bernardino financial aid google search

What if I don’t add meta descriptions to my pages?

Cascade WCMS didn’t support meta descriptions until 2021. Most Chico State campus pages look like the example below:

google search in web services

Without meta descriptions, Google auto-generates a page summary, usually using the first text on the page and truncating it with an ellipses.

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Article ID: 113085
Wed 3/3/21 8:56 AM
Tue 7/25/23 12:40 PM