The Proper Meta Description Tag Use for SEO

Meta Description LengthOne common question from clients and web developers is, “Is it important to have Meta Description Tags on every page?” The short answer to that burning question is, Yes. Then I am hit with a couple of follow questions:

  1. What is the best way to implement a Description Tag?
  2. Can you calculate the ROI if we implement Description Tags throughout our website?

Let’s answer those common SEO questions and many more.

What is the Meta Description Tag?

The Meta Description Tag is found in the <head></head> section of your website’s HTML code. Every website should have a Head section and the Description Tag code will appear like this:

<meta name=”description” content=”blah blah blah” />

Of course you will not populate this important tag with “blah blah blah.” The job of this tag is to explain to a searcher what that particular webpage is about. When a searcher enters a search query Google and Bing provide a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) that list your sought after search results.The image below illustrates how the Description Tag is viewed by a searched in the SERPs.

Meta Description Tag
It should be clear that this is your opportunity to put persuasive language in your Description Tags to convince the searcher to click through your result. In the example above I searched for “” and Google has nicely bolded my name three times. Once from data in the Title Tag, Description Tag and Domain URL. This also helps catch the eye of the searcher.

What is the proper way to implement the Description Tag?

You should target one primary keyword per webpage, and that keyword should appear in the beginning of the Meta Description Tag. I recommend using your keyword twice, but it depends upon the keyword. Description Tags cannot be longer than 150 characters, so if you are targeting a very long keyword, (i.e. Seattle Hardwood Flooring Installation) you might not use that phrase twice as you only have 150 characters to craft an eye-popping explanation of that webpage. Finally, each webpage must have their very own unique Description Tag. You CANNOT write one tag and duplicate it across your entire website or a section of pages.

Can you calculate the ROI of properly implemented Description Tags?

Not exactly. We know that a properly optimized Description Tag does not impact your keyword ranking. However, the search engines will track click throughs of your search result. You want searchers to see your result and click on it.

Also, do you know what happens if you do not implement the Meta Description Tag? The search engines will try and create one for you based upon what they find when they crawl that page. That explains why you might a search result that produces code gibberish, the site’s navigation or something much worse. What could possibly be worse than exposed code or navigation? How about User Generated Content (UCG)! I was working on a world top 10 website that failed to implement Meta Description Tags and their pages had plenty of UCG through User comments.

One of the comments was laced with profanity and for some reason the search engines used this particular User comment to populate the search result. Do you want your company’s brand associated with a vulgar search result seen by potential customers while they search for you? Do yourself a favor and properly implement the Meta Description Tag.

It is your opportunity to convince a potential client or customer to visit your website. What is the ROI of losing one of those individuals to a competitor website that does properly utilize and optimize their Description Tags?



Author: Garth O'Brien provides SEO, Social Media and Community Management consulting services. He can help boost the online presence of a small local business or global enterprise corporations in both Google and Bing.

View all posts by