SEO: Optimizing META Descriptions

The META Description tag of a web page is commonly used by search engines in their search results. As with the page title, the description tag needs to serve both as a tool to achieve search placement and as a way to attract users to click on your link. As search engines get better at “reading” pages, you can expect your description tags to have less and less importance.  Google already ignores meta tags and creates descriptions from content on the page when its algorithm determines on-page description tag is irrelevant or misleading.

Crafting and optimizing META Description tags can be very easy, as long as you keep a few rules in mind.

We are going to skip over the how-to of editing description tags. Each CMS has its own way of editing page descriptions, which can change based on third party plugins. If you are editing the HTML directly, you should already know where and how to edit the description. We will cover content editing in other blog posts. For now, here are the basics of creating a good description tag for your web page.

  • Description Length – Google typically displays up to 160 characters of a description tag. If you keep your titles under 160 characters, you can expect your descriptions to display properly in search results.
  • Keyword Placement – The most important keywords should appear at the beginning of your description. Keywords that appear at the end of a long description are given less value by most, if not all, search engine algorithms.
  • Keyword Frequency – Sometimes, it can be beneficial to repeat a keyword in your descriptions; however, it should be natural. Keyword stuffing should be avoided at all costs. When possible, use synonyms such as “SEO” and “optimization” because search engines understand that these are related terms. 
  • Balancing and Targeting – Trying to balance the content so it ranks well while being easily read by your customers can be difficult.  A trick we like to use is taking the title, first headline and the first two sentences of the first paragraph and combine them. Edit these down to 160 characters, while keeping it “attractive” to consumers.
  • Things to Avoid – Avoid the urge to copy your title tag. Don’t repeat keywords more than twice. Don’t over punctuate. Avoid exclamation points. Don’t hype or lie.

Still have questions? Contact us and let us know how we can help.

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