Many webmasters and website owners sometimes overlook meta description tags, often because after working long and hard on website design and content, they think they’re done and ready to launch or post. The truth is, if they consciously or unconsciously skip over meta descriptions, they’re losing a critical element for search engine optimization and a valuable marketing tool.
If you’re not familiar with a meta description tag, it’s a brief summary of the web page with which it’s associated, generally just a sentence or two, a short paragraph at most. Don’t confuse the description meta tag with the page title – they are two separate things. A page title is just a few words or a short phrase that identifies the page and is visible to the site visitor. Meta description tags are NOT visible to site visitors, but they’re just as important as page titles because search engines such as Google sometimes use them as descriptive snippets in search results. However, there’s no guarantee of that – Google might decide to use what it identifies as a relevant section of a page’s visible text if it thinks that does a more effective job of describing a page’s content. Snippet words that match search terms are then bolded in search results to help the searcher determine page relevance (this should NOT be confused with keywords, though – more on that in another post).
Add meta description tags to add value to your website content
As you can see, meta description tags are a great way to attract and influence search engine users, so it’s important to write descriptions that both inform and interest potential site visitors if they saw all or part of your meta description as a search result. Remember, it’s important that each page has its own, unique meta description tag – your site may be penalized by search engines if you use a single meta description tag across all your website pages.
When creating meta description tags avoid:
- A single meta description tag for all pages, or even a large group of pages
- Filling the description with just a list of keywords
- Writing a description that has nothing to do with the page’s actual content
- Simply copying and pasting the page’s content into the meta description tag
- Using overly-generic, non-unique phrases or descriptions such as “appliance store page”
The right meta description tags can make a significant difference in how your website performs and how your pages rank in searches. If you’re unsure about your website’s meta description tags, we suggest you check them now. You’ll be thankful you did