Your page’s description metatag helps both your searchers and search engine understand what your page is about. While not every search engine gives great weight to the description metatag, you will receive no penalty and may improve ranking from those search engines that do value the content. A number of steps exist to help you optimize your page description to rank better within the search engine. The following tips detail the most common and most important.
- Provide a unique description for each page. Duplicate page descriptions can confuse search engines as to which page represents the best possible answer for your searchers’ questions. Don’t confuse the search engine. Instead, ensure you’ve written a distinct and separate description for every page you manage.
- Place relevant keywords early in the description. Think about the keywords you expect your page to rank for. Have you included the most relevant of those within the description metatag? Do they appear near the front of the description rather than towards the end? If you’ve answered “no” to each of these questions, rewrite your description metatag to place the keywords more prominently with the decsription and nearer to the beginning. This can help your search engine understand what your page is about and give it greater prominence within the rankings. It will also help your searchers, often driving increased clickthrough to your page. For more information on how to select the right keywords for your page’s description metatag, take a look at “How Do I Know What Keywords Searchers Use?”. And for more details on improving clickthrough, review “How Do I Optimize My Page Description Metatag to Improve Clickthrough?”
- Ensure keywords appear within the first 150-160 characters. Many search engines that value description metatags will process descriptions up to 1,000 characters long. However, those search engines also often give greater weight to the keywords found within the first 150-160 characters (the most common display range on a search engine results page). Place your most important keywords early in the description to help the search engine determine your page’s topic—and to help improve your overall rankings.
The role of the description metatag in driving search results varies by search engine. Some rely heavily on the information, while others ignore it altogether. However, a strong description will never harm your ranking, and might actually improve it. Making your description metatags work plays a key role in your searchers’ overall experience.