Web Page Description Tag

Be seen online

A very important part of web site SEO is correct use of the page description tag. This tag allows you to add a short unique description that is often displayed as part of the search engine results.

Recently search engines have begun to display a mix of the contents of the web page description tag with relevant text excerpts from other parts of your page content.

The description of a web page is important because it informs Google and other search engines what your webpage is about. It should be a brief unique summary about the web page concerned, not the entire web site.

Writing a Good Web Page Description.

The example below shows what the description tag might commonly look like in your web page code. It can appear slightly different but should always be obvious by the description tag:

<meta content=”An important part of SEO is the webpage description tag. The tag contents are displayed in search engine results.” name=”description”>

The actual method of inputting a description for a web page can vary depending on your web editing software, but essentially you want to create a couple of short unique phrases that briefly describe what the web page is about. Keep the page description to about 140 characters in length.

Search engines will typically use your description tag text when displaying search results, the brief description displayed by Google comes from the description tag most of the time. Very importantly, search engines will highlight the description tag contents that match the phrase being searched for online. This will grab the attention of the person performing the Google search.

Do not write a page description that is vague such as “Home page about cats” or one that is stuffed full of keywords; “cars, lorries, traffic calming, roads webpage”. Try to write a page description that includes the key-phrases that people are searching for, it is good SEO practice to include the key words used previously in your web page title tag.

A meta description should be unique to each web page on your site and should include your most relevant key search phrases from the page it refers. A good page description reinforces a good page title and is your chance to get your call to action message across to your potential web visitors. Short key phrases as a list are ok to use but do not write gibberish.

Description tag

Description tag

In the image above I have highlighted the page description as displayed by a Google search. You will notice that the phrase searched for is also contained in the page description (Google has made it bold text), this shows good use of SEO methods. The page title and page description contain the same important key-phrase in this example.

You can always change a page title and description later if you find that your researched key words are not getting you the results you expect. It takes time for the search engines to re-visit your web pages and reflect the new page titles and descriptions so keep this in mind and try not to keep changing the titles and expecting instant results.

Google’s Matt Cutts Speaks About Duplicate Description Meta Tags

Microdata (rich snippets) is another phrase you will hear more and more often, this is a set of HTML tags that allow you to influence the mini descriptions and web site logos that are commonly displayed in Google snippets and other online locations.

Facebook for example uses micro-data to choose the description and thumbnail image to display when you paste a URL link into a comment or status update.

Microdata can contain information such as blog article author, local business address, snippet description and much more. You can help Google display this relevant information by adding additional HTML code (or markup) to your pages. This markup helps Google recognise certain types of data and display it usefully in rich snippets.

Google provides code examples and more information about using micro data online.

Search online for ‘micro data’ or see this microdata link here.

Author by Malcolm Oakley


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