As we discussed in our previous article, Page Title may be of few words within which it may not be possible to define the complete summary of your content. So, there is another description meta tag gives summary of your page content to search engines. This description meta tag is bit longer in length having few sentences or a short paragraph. Since meta description is shown in search results, it is important to optimize it for better click through rate.
Using Description Meta Tag
You need to insert the description meta tag between the <head> and </head> tags section of a HTML document. The code should look something like below in the source of the webpage. As you can see, the meta tag has two components – name as “description” and the “content” is the summary of your page.
<HTML> <HEAD> <TITLE> My Greetings – Buy Cards, View Gallery, Check Price </TITLE> <META name="description" content="My Greetings provides large varieties of greeting for every occasions. Our prices are cheaper and competitive and we also deliver at your door"> </HEAD> <BODY> <<<< Main Content of Your Page >>> </BODY> </HTML>
Meta Description in Search Results
Generally, search engines show the meta description of a page (summary from “content” part”) in search results. This helps users to understand your page’s content without clicking the result and reading your content. If you used very short description, then few lines from your page content is also shown along with meta description. The search query is highlighted in all the part of search results in title, breadcrumb or URL and meta description.
Ensure to have a meta description of 150 – 160 characters length so that it is not getting truncated in the search result snippet. It is also possible to display the date of publishing in front of the description to inform the user when the article is published or last updated. So, ensure to test the snippet preview to display better results to users.
Page Content Instead of Meta Description
Sometimes instead of meta description search engines may use a snippet of your content or description of your site from social feed or web directories based on the search query matching. Nowadays, Google simply grabs some relevant text from your page’s content and show as description in search results.
But this largely varies depending upon the content and description of the page and you should always provide a meaningful summary in the meta description. For example, social platforms like Facebook and Twitter (X) show the meta description when sharing the URL.
Also note that the search engines may use different meta description on desktop and mobile devices.
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Checking Issues in Description Meta Tags
Earlier days, Google Search Console was providing a tool to analyze description meta tags of your site in bulk. This tool tells you about various issues of your meta tags like short description, long description and duplicated items. Unfortunately, this tool has been removed in the latest Search Console.
Good thing is that you can still use Bing Webmaster Tools for finding problems in your page meta descriptions. Login to Bing Webmaster Tools and go to “SEO Reports” section. There you can find all the issues including problems related to meta description.
Clicking on the item will show a list of affected URLs which you can use to check and fix the issue. This is very useful to find missing and long/short descriptions on your entire site.
Add Meta Description to Your Page
The process of adding meta description and other header tags depends on how you build your website. Platforms like Weebly allows free account holders to add and edit meta description for each page from “SEO Settings”.
Though content management systems like WordPress do not offer an in-built option, you can add meta description in WordPress using plugins like Yoast, Rank Math, etc. You can also preview the length in mobile and desktop devices to make sure it appears properly.
Meta Tag Analyzer and Generator
You can use two tools to simplify your tasks related to meta description. First is a meta tags generator tool which helps to generate different meta tags for a page based on your inputs. Go to the tool, type your title, description and other details to get relevant meta tags. You should insert the obtained tags in the header section of your page.
Next is a meta tags analyzer tools which helps to check the title/description length and other details are correct in your page. Go to the tool, provide your URL and check if meta tags are looking fine.
Dos and Don’t with Description Meta Tag
- Ensure the length is limited to 160 characters. Earlier, Google was allowing up to 320 characters and subsequently this was changed back to 160.
- Write a compelling description which will increase the user’s interest to check your site when they see your description in the search results.
- Unique description for each page informs both search engines as well users about each of your pages.
- When multiple pages of your site are shown in a single search result page, users will ignore the important page if all the descriptions are same. Hence, differentiate the description based on the importance of content.
- It is always a good idea to manually add description to the page when publishing content. However, in some cases you can consider using auto meta tag generation methods based if your site has large number of pages. For example, when you may want to automatically add or update meta description for thousands of old products pages.
- Unrelated description meta tag to the content of a page.
- Generic descriptions like “This is a web page” or “Page about greeting cards”.
- Description stuffed only with keywords.
- Single description for all or most of the pages.
- Inserting the whole content of a page into the description meta tag.