SEO best practices – description meta tags

In this article we will look at the description meta tags. We will look at the importance of meta descriptions, what length they are in Google, Yahoo, and Bing, and how to write good meta descriptions.

A reminder about what description meta tags are?

Meta Descriptions are brief descriptions of the webpage and tell you the purpose of the web page. Meta descriptions are typically are displayed in the search results as results from your search. Meta descriptions tags are typically placed within the head section of the webpage and usually placed after title tag.

An Example

<meta name = “description” content = “Jasmine’s Chinese Take Away provides authentic 
and delicious Chinese food. Find us at in  Godington Park Ashford”

The importance of meta descriptions

Meta Descriptions are actually more important that the meta keywords and more relevance is given to your page descriptions.

It is also important that your page description must be eye catching and needs to spark the curiosity of potential customers.

You simply must include your main keywords in the meta description. If we look at the above example, you will see what the main keywords are. These are Chinese Take Away. In front is the business name. The rest that follows is a nice description of the service plus a location. 

You must not stuff the meta description full of keywords because this has no effect what so ever on ranking and also looks poor and un professional to people who will click on your website.

How long can you make a Meta Description?

The meta description tag does not actually have a fixed size according to the W3C. However all search engines suggest that these are no more than 155 characters, including spaces.

How long can the meta description be on Google?

Google in particular will cut short your page description after the 156th character and so cut short your lovely description.

You can entice your visitor to read on by including “…” at the end of your description.

How long can the meta description be on Yahoo?

Yahoo according to many experts will display up to 161 characters of your page description. As with Google, you can add “…” to entice readers to read on.

How long can the meta description be on Bing?

Bing will show up to 185 characters of your page description.

How to write your meta descriptions

To accommodate all the different search engines many marketers suggest that you place the most important part of your page description within the first 156 characters so that the following happens

  1. The description is shown in the listings from Google, Yahoo and Bing et al
  2. Your visitors can see a nice helpful description and click on your website.
  3. Your description is shown will fit all three major search engines.
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