Although keywords / phrases used in your Meta Description tag may not affect your page’s ranking in the search engines, this tag is really important in your overall SEO and even social marketing campaigns.
The meta description tag is usually placed after the title tag and before the meta keywords tag. It is a snippet of HTML code that is located inside the section of a web page. There are 3 ways in with the meta description tag is being used today.
1) Used as the description in the Search Results
Google will show 20 -25 words of your description if you search by a site url. However, real people typically don’t search using a site url so this is less important than what Google will display for a true keyword search.
Insert keyterms used on your site in to Google to see what description appears and if you do this multiple times you will see that a combination of results will be shown. For example:
- You could see your entire Meta Description tag text
- You could see one sentence from the Meta description or
- You could see text from one part of the description together with text from the webpage itself.
Some reasons that cause Google to change the Meta Description tag displayed are as follows:
1) The information in the Meta Description tag was not specific to the page it was on
2) The search query used some words that were not in the meta description, but some were used in the page content eg words that Google considers synonymous such as “SEO” and “Search Engine Optimisation”
It is really important then that each webpage should have a description tag that is specific to that page, describing what someone will find when they click through to the page from the search engine results.
2) Meta Descriptions effect on Extended Sitelinks
Google often uses the first few words from your Meta Description when they create “extended sitelinks” for a website. This however is highly dependent on the keywords used in the search query. For the most part they use the first part of the Meta Description as the site link, but this is not always the case. While you have some control over your sitelink descriptions via your description tag, again Google may not always use them (as with regular search results). The best chance of having sitelinks show is to use the words you know pull up sitelinks close to the beginning of your description tag and be as descriptive as possible in the first 5-7 words
3) Meta Descriptions and Social Media Marketing.
You may have noticed that some Facebook links have great descriptions and some tend not to make sense. This is because a summary of the article has been written and it has been placed in the Meta Description tag. If your article has a Meta Description, Facebook and Google + will default to that when you share a link on your profile / page. If there is no description you will usually see the first sentence from the page as the default. Therefore, we would strongly advise that you always write a compelling description of articles and blog content that is to be shared by social media and place it in the Meta Description tag.
The Meta Description Tag gives you more control over what people might see before they over to your site. The more compelling, the more clickthroughs you are likely to see. If your Meta Description can help influence your clickthroughs then it is definitely an area that is not to be overlooked.