Nuts and Bolts: Understanding Your Site’s Meta Description Tag
Nothing theoretical, inspirational, or thought-provoking in this post, folks. Rather, let’s roll up our sleeves and look at one of the important elements of your website that a lot of folks overlook or just don’t do correctly: the meta description tag.
And if you read no further, keep those descriptions to 160 characters. You’ll see why below.
You know those little website summaries that show up when you do a search? Google’s showing you the output of your site’s title and description tags:
If you haven’t the foggiest idea what a “meta description” tag is or how to manipulate it, your web marketing people sure know what it is (if they don’t, fire them immediately). It’s a little snippet of code that goes on your web page which tells search engines a little bit about your site. As such, it’s pretty important that you know how to best leverage your website description.
According to the search engine blog SEOMoz, the following are some of what you need to know:
Character limits – currently Google displays up to 160 characters, Yahoo! up to 165 and MSN up to 200+ (they’ll go to three vertical lines in some cases). Stick with the smallest – Google – and keep those descriptions at 160 characters (including spaces) or less.
It’s extremely important to have your keywords in the meta tag – the bolding done by the engines can make a big difference in visibility and CTR.
Always describe your content honestly – if it’s not as “sexy” as you’d like, spice up your content, don’t bait and switch on searchers or they’ll have a poor brand association.
Quality information on SEO without any snake oil. To read more from SEOMoz’s post on meta description tags, please check out this post.