Definition of a Description Tag

Written by Nick Stamoulis

A description tag is an HTML tag that is used by web page authors to provide a short summary for the search engine listings. Most of the time, this text appears under the headline, but sometimes search engines will pull a piece of text from the main body copy of the page.

You can find the description tag of any web page by right-clicking on the page and clicking on “view page source” or view source.” The information on this page serves as the snippet of text on the SERP when users perform a search.

Why are description tags important? The description tag serves as a piece of advertising copy. It is meant to draw visitors to a website from the SERP. They are important because they will impact how your website appears in searches and how many people will click to view it. This will impact the traffic and engagement rates, which then impact your rankings, so you want to write a compelling description tag that will increase your click through rate. Description, or meta, tags are a crucial part of an search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.

How can a descriptive tag be improved? It’s important to use targeted keywords in your description tag. You want them to be as relevant to the content on each web page as possible. You want your description tag to short and to the point.

How long should the description tag be? Aiming for 50 – 160 characters is an optimal length. 120 characters is the ideal maximum for description tags on mobiles. You want them to be short, but long enough that they are descriptive enough to draw attention. Also include keywords that the page is targeting. If you strategically place keywords in your description tag, search engines may give it more importance, allowing more eyes to see it and click through. If someone is doing a search through Google, the keywords that they searched for will be highlighted and catch the user’s attention.

You want to avoid exceeding the character limit because it will either be cut off by the search engine. If possible, put the most important information in the first 50 characters so that in the event it is cut off, the information that will draw visitors in will remain attached. Remember that your description tag is competing with all other results that come up in user’s searches.

You want to create a unique description tag for each web page. Unique description tags are preferred by search engines, but will also help to better explain your website to visitors. If they see the same description tag for each different page, they may only visit one, assuming the others have nothing else to offer than that.

What should your description tag include? Here are a few ideas:

• your competitive advantage
• action verbs (improved/organized/achieved/consolidated/boosted/gained)
• good grammar
• easy-to-read and understand sentences
• your brand name
• a call-to-action to entice people to click (“buy now,” “read more here,” “discover more”)

You can increase your click through rate by improving the quality of your website’s description tag.

Description Tag Definition Sources:

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