By now you may have heard several times from search engine experts, that “meta tags” are not as important any longer as they used to be. While that’s especially true for “meta keywords”, as they were simply being abused too much, meta description is still important to maintain in your website pages. Let me explain why…
If meta description is not available on your page, Google and other search engines will use some text from that particular page and display those few lines under your page title in the search result. That may not be too bad in most cases, but you don’t really have a saying when deciding which lines should be shown there, and in worse case, it will show some text completely irrelevant to the content of your page.
By using the meta description tag, you get to decide what the users will see below your page title, when you show up in their searches. The content of the meta description tag is not visible on your site though, only in the SERP (Search Engine Result Page).
Let’s take a look at what the meta description looks like from a web developers point of view – or if you put on your “I’m a Google spider bot”-glasses. Here’s the one I currently use for the frontpage of TechPatio:
<meta name=”description” content=”TechPatio is your free source for tech news regarding Apple, iPhone, Mac, Firefox, Safari, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and other gadgets. TechPatio – tech news the easy way!” />
And here’s how it looks in a Google search result (it only displays about the first 160 characters):
To be honest, that’s not really the best meta description out there. I will certainly need to improve it – here’s why…
Meta Description Is Content
That’s right. Meta description is used to define/explain the content of your page, so it’s important not to ignore them. Even better, see if you can add a few of your targeted keywords to your meta descriptions as well, because…
Take a look at the screenshot above once more time. You will notice that “TechPatio” is bold, both in the title and in the description. That’s because I searched for “techpatio”. Bottom line, if your search keyword(s) show up in the meta description, they will become bold. Some experts say that users are more inclined to click those results with bold keyword(s). Makes sense to me.
Sell Your Page In 160 Characters Or Less
As already mentioned, when using meta description you get to decide what the user will see below your page title in the search results. Use the meta description to “sell your page” to the user, making him want to come and visit your site. By ignoring the meta description and trust that Google will provide the right “sales pitch” for you, is probably a long shot. It might be even better to just put a meta description that says “Nothing to see here, mosey along now…” instead – I’d click one of those… just like I’d push red buttons that says “DO NOT PUSH!”.
Let me bottom line it for you, by giving you some great free tips:
- Write a meta description no longer than 160 characters (spaces included). Everything besides 160 chars will not be shown.
- Put some of your targeted keywords in each meta description once or twice.
- Use a different meta description for each of your pages. No need to write a sales pitch for your “Contact Us”-page, etc.
And now I will sit back and wait until a hacker sends me an e-mail with the subject “Do not open this e-mail!” with a virus attached…. Oh, wait, I’m on a Mac. No worries then. Moosey along now, but remember to subscribe to TechPatio first!