Meta Description Tag and Why It’s Important to Professional Search Engine Optimization

Staff Writer: Jessica Ross

Date: 7.14.2012


Meta description tags are snippets of HTML code that goes inside the <Head> </Head> section of a web page, following the Title Tag and before the Meta Keywords tag if used.  There’s a field to fill out if you are using a content management system, it’s called, “Meta Description,” or just “Description.”

Keywords in Meta Description Tags won’t affect your page’s overall ranking anymore, but it’s still helpful in overall professional search engine optimization and social media marketing.  Meta Description Tags can describe our page in search engine results.  Google often uses them when showing “Extended sitelinks” for your web page, though this is not always the case.  If someone searches your web address your meta description will pull up.  But a listing in the Open Directory Project can cause the result’s description to default to whatever is written in the directory, if not using the “noodp” tag.

With other search engines, it’s a hit or miss ordeal.  Sometimes they use meta tag descriptions, sometimes they just show content from your website’s page.  Most people aren’t going to search your URL, so check your web analytics to see which keywords are bringing in the most traffic.

Go to a search engine, type one of the keywords in, hit search, and see what pops up in your description.  Each result will have a different combination of meta tag description and the site’s webpage content.  Google won’t use the Meta Description Tag if the keywords weren’t contained within it or if it wasn’t relevant to the search.

SEO specialists suggest to make a meta description tag for each individual page.  Change up the keywords contained in each one.  While Google will typically only show 20-25 words, you aren’t limited in your description.    Make sure that the first five or six words are the most descriptive.  This’ll help your Tag have a better chance of being used.

Social Media sites like Google+ and Facebook used Meta Description Tags as default descriptions for marketing links, which is why some descriptions never make sense.  That’s because some sites lack a Meta Description Tag and the first line of content is seen instead.

As a rule of thumb, it’s best to make sure each page or article has a sentence or two in the Meta Description Tag.  That way when it’s shared on social media sites your descriptions match the content and give an overall view.  Doing this will give you an edge over the competitors, seeing as how, most still haven’t noticed the importance of Meta Description Tags.

Meta Description tags give you the ability to know what people will see and read before clicking your URL.  It’s definitely something to look into and ask if it falls into your search engine optimization pricing when talking to your SEO consultant.  They give you a “clean” professional look, which is exactly what you want your site to have.  So while Meta Description Tags do nothing to boost your rankings in search results, it will do everything in ascetics.

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