SEO 101: Meta Description

By February 21, 2013SEO

The META description is within the HTML <header> of each web page on your site.  It looks like:

<meta name=”description” content=”Short description goes here” />

Like META Keywords, the description was originally one of the big influencing factor on search engines that defined what the site or page is about.  This tag is no longer used in the algorithms to determine what the page is about.  It was yet another feature that SEO companies would traditionally stuff with keywords or content in order to rank higher.  Even though it no longer carries any weight, it is an extremely important tag.  Google, Bing and other search engines now use the description in many cases as the description within the search engine results page (SERP).  For instance, at the time this was written if you search on “shirts” at Google, the first result is for Threadless:

Threadless graphic t-shirt designs; cool & funny t-shirts weekly …
New graphic t-shirts released weekly. Awesome new designs submitted and rated by the Threadless community.

The description for Threadless below the link is what you find within their META Description tag on the page.  Considering the fact that a large percentage of your visitors come from search engines, what you say here can mean the difference between having a visitor and not.  It needs to be concise and highly relevant to the page they are visiting on your site.  If what they see on the page they visit doesn’t correlate with what you have on the page, it will cause a higher bounce rate for that page and they will most likely never come back.  Additionally, having a better META Description than your competitors that appear in the SERP will impact whether someone is interested in actually clicking on your link.

In review:

  • Use the META Description on every page of your site
  • Make it relevant to the page they are visiting
  • Keep it to less than 80 characters and make sure the copy makes sense.
  • Make it unique for each page on your site

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