SEO - Description Meta Tag

You might have the best designed website, developed using the highest quality code, but this is rarely the first introduction your potential visitors will have to your website.

Most search engines will display results as the meta title followed by the meta description.  So, it is vital to you that these are attractive to users! 

What is the description meta tag?
A page's description meta tag gives search engines a summary of what the page is about.  Where the page title may be a few words, the description can be a sentence or two, or a short paragraph.

Because of this, it is important that you don't duplicate the title or description meta tags, as this will tell the search engines that the content is similar, and can stop your pages being indexed as quickly.

Why are they important?
The description meta tags are important because search engines might use them as the snippets that you see on search results.  This isn't always the case, as the search engines may choose to use some of your page text instead, if it decides that the page text has more relevant content.

Adding description meta data tags to each of your pages is therefore good practice in case the search engines can't find any relevant text on your page.

You may notice when using google, that some words are highlighted in bold when you perform a web search.  These words are the ones you have entered in your query, and are highlighted to help you to decide the page relevance.

Use unique descriptions for each page
Having a different description for each page helps both users and search engines to decide whether to click onto your website.  This is more important where you have a larger site with similar page content.  If your website has hundreds of pages, you should speak to your developer to ensure that automated meta tags are unique and relevant.

For best results, use the following guide:-
  1. Accurately summarize the page's content. If you write a description that has no relation to the content of the page, the search engines may decide that you are trying to fool them into displaying your page.  This will get your page (and possibly website) blocked from search results.
  2. Avoid using generic or default values for your page description - descriptions such as 'default page' or 'page about my website' aren't helpful to users, and will stop them from clicking onto your website!
  3. Don't copy and paste the entire contents of your web page.  Ask your developer for guidance as to word counts, best practices, etc.
  4. Write a description that will both inform and interest users.  Your page description is their first introduction to your website!
  5. Use unique descriptions for each page.