Meta Description Tags and how they relate to SEO


The Meta Description tag is a snippet of HTML code that belongs inside the head of an HTML document (a web page).  Traditionally, the meta description tag is a short human-generated description of the content that a person will find on that web page.  The search engines will sometimes choose to use the meta description that you provide for a web page as the description that shows below the page title and URL in search engine result pages (the pages people see when they search using a search engine).

The search engines analyze the meta description you write for each page of your website to see if it appears to be similar to the text they find on the rest of the page. If so, they may use it as the description they include with that page in the search index. If not, they may choose other words from the page, sometimes words found in headings or near the beginning of your text paragraphs, to use to build their own page description.

Let’s say that Google is a potential sales prospect and your web page is a salesman.  The meta description can be thought of as an “elevator pitch” for the search engines to figure out quickly what the page is about.  You should write a unique, one to two sentence meta description for each of your website’s pages.  This allows you as a web page author to give a more meaningful description for your pages than might be displayed if the search engine was unable to automatically create its own description based on the page content.

The description is often, but not always, displayed on the search engine results page, so it can affect the number of visitors that choose to visit your website. Organic search results (websites that the search engines determine are relevant to a particular search) are displayed beside paid search results (advertisers who are paying for placement) so they are essentially competing for attention. Include some persuasive language in your meta description like “learn more about…” or “see how you can…” or “get more results with…” in addition to descriptive text about your page.

For example, a good meta description for the Services page of an interior decorator’s website would be “Get a coupon for 15% off our Atlanta, Georgia interior design services when you visit our website.” This description contains a strong offer “get a coupon for 15% off” and a call to action “visit our website” and also includes location “Atlanta, Georgia” and topic “interior design services” focused keywords.

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