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Most website owners have content management systems powering their website, providing the ability to update web page content easily, keeping it fresh and engaging. Many content management systems have the facility to update meta data; HTML tags on each and every web page that is used by the search engines. In the early days of the internet, these were very important and were used by the search engines to formulate their results pages. Today however, the search engines don’t rely on these so much, but they are still important to get right and here, we’ll highlight the importance of the Meta Description and how it should be used.

Very briefly, we’ll go over some of the other common meta tags below;

Title Tag – This is very important for search engine optimisation in respect of keyword ranking and relevance. This provides the search engines with the title of your document (web page) and will tell the search engines what that page is about. So it needs to be relevant to the page's content.

Meta Description Tag – This is important for users and it is used by them before they click through to your site; we’ll talk more about this in detail below.

Meta Keyword – Said to have no importance any longer and the search engines pay no attention to this. We say it’s good practice to include keywords here that are present within your page content though.

So, what part does the meta description play? Well, it is used by the search engines, but it will not improve your rankings. This tag is used by search engines in the Search Engines Results Pages (SERPs) and is applied as the little snippet of content that appears below the title of each search result in the list. Example below;

Sample meta

This is the first snippet of content users will see before they click through to your website, so this needs to be written to entice users in. The more enticing the description, the more users will want to click through to your site, consequently improving your ‘click through rate’. When searching the internet via search engines, you probably read these snippets of content without even realising it and you click-through to a website based on this small amount of text.

So, what makes a good meta description?

You have about three sentences in which to get users to click through to your site, so your core service, selling points or headline offer would be a good start. Meta descriptions are configured for each and every page on a website, so keep them relevant to the content of each page. For example, the home page of a website is essentially an overview of the products or service you offer, but inner pages are much more focused on specific subjects or products groups, so bear this in mind when creating them. It’s good practice to include keywords that are relevant to the service or products your website/web page is about as, if these keywords form part of the user's search, the search engines will highlight the words in bold. As you can see in the sample image above, the keywords used to conduct the search (in this case, 'web’ and ‘design’) are made bold and more visible. If you rely on telephone enquiries, perhaps if your business primarily offers services, include you telephone number. Keep it short and to the point, around 200 characters that describe what your website offers and include your brand name, as some users may be searching for your company specifically. It’s good practice to avoid the use of ALL UPPER CASE and lots of exclamation marks !!!!! – tempting to include when highlighting offers and sales, but generally, we advise against it.

Categories: Articles, Content Management, On-line Marketing, SEO

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