This particular tag provides a basic description of what’s found on the webpage, thus pointing search engines and humans towards the themes and topics your website is relevant to.
Although the major search engines give very little value to the description tag when ranking web pages these days, it’s still an important aspect of SEO because it’s listed in your search result, and it’s therefore what users read when your link comes up and what makes them decide whether or not to click on your link.
So what makes the perfect meta description?
Typically, the description should be no more than 10-20 words long or 160 characters, as most search engines ignore anything past this.
Once again, your meta tag description should contain your major keywords, as this can be the difference between a visitor clicking on your link in the search results or choosing another option.
The description can also be used to give more information about the product, enabling you to “sell” it to the reader, in the same way a headline on a sales letter is used.
For instance, if you have a look at the example below for the search term “web design Sydney”, the meta descriptions (seen on the second and third lines of each result) tell the reader exactly what the service is all about and also attempt to convince them that they (and not their competitors) are the best option.
Another point to mention here is that unless you’re a big brand name like Coca Cola or Nike, there’s no real need to have your company name in the description tag (or the title tag, for that matter). After all, most visitors won’t even know anything about your company, but they will be looking for products and services that your company may be able to offer, and so your keywords should reflect this.
Let’s say that someone has a car dealership, for example. It would make a lot more sense if their meta description said something like this:
“Find second hand cars in London. We have everything from cars and 4x4s, to trucks and vans…” Rather than, say, “Dave’s Motors”, for example.
See what I mean?
People will be typing in keywords such as “second hand cars”, “trucks and vans for sale”, “buy 4x4s”, second hand cars London”, etc, etc.
They’re unlikely to be looking for YOUR company specifically.
And finally, as well as having unique title tags for each of your web pages, it’s also important to have unique meta descriptions for every page of your site. If you use the same tag contents across multiple pages, search engines can pick up on this and potentially ignore the contents either of that tag, or possibly even the entire page.
Although meta data isn’t as crucial as it used to be, many of the specialized search engines still take it into account when ranking your site so it would be foolish to ignore it.
Remember, always follow best practice with your SEO copywriting strategy, because if you do, you’ll stand a much better chance of ranking highly for your chosen keywords.
Nick Cobb – SEO Copywriter