SEO 101: The Meta Description Tag

July 26th, 2010

While the meta tag description does not directly affect the search rankings, it is still a crucial element of on-page SEO.

Why?

The meta description tag can be a deciding difference between a user clicking through to your site … or moving on to your competitors.

So what exactly is the meta description?

  • Short paragraph (max 150-160 characters) that appears below the link title in the search results page.
  • Let’s searchers know what kind of content to expect after clicking your link from the search results page.
  • Employed using the following tag – <meta name”description” content=”Description of the applicable page”> in the <head> section of the page.

Best practices for writing a meta description:

  • Proper keyword usage – Use variations of the Web page’s primary keywords. Incorporating a call to action and using enticing or engaging language will increase likelihood of a user clicking through. Search engines will also bold search terms if present in the meta description tag.
  • Write for humans, not search bots – Don’t keyword stuff, keep the writing natural and compelling, same as you would with search ad copy, a blog post, etc.
  • Be descriptive.
  • Write unique meta descriptions for EVERY page. Do not duplicate other meta descriptions or page titles, and mix up variations of keyword terms.

Here is a screenshot of a meta description from a search query using “apple.”

Google screenshot of iPhone meta description

Most important “best practice” for meta descriptions – Remember to stay human!

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