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Page descriptions

Posted in Content, Meta-data and Search

Each page of your website has a whole bunch of data attached to it that neither you or your visitors will know much about. You may or may not have heard about ‘meta tags’. It’s not important to know exactly what they do but it is important to be aware of the ‘description’ meta tag.

The description meta tag doesn’t do much for your search engine position. What it does do, though, is provide people searching on Google, Yahoo and Bing with a little snippet of text describing the page that has been returned. You know the one I mean: each search result gives you the page’s title, it’s URL (domain name) and then the description.

Of course you can just leave it blank, but this means searchers will be presented with a result that doesn’t look right and probably leave it well alone. There are a few other very good reasons to make use of the tag too:

  • Each page’s description should be written with the searcher in mind-- what can you write that’ll entice them to click through to your site?
  • It probably goes without saying that each page should have its own description tag. One size doesn’t fit all and each page is more than likely performing its own unique function within your website.

With that in mind, it’s probably a good idea, before you write a single word for your page, to put its description together. Doing things this way really forces you to think carefully about the task the page’ll be performing. You’ve got 200 characters to describe the page’s content in an engaging fashion.

Useful tips

It’s a good idea to include a call to action in the description. An example of this would be to put your phone number on your contact page’s description. For searchers looking for your number, it saves them time clicking through to your site and looking for the number again-- it’s a small thing but will be greatly appreciated.

Put your brand name at the front and back of the description. This will mean it’s always visible to the searcher, reassuring them that they’re in the right hands.

Include keywords in the description. Although they won’t do much, when people search for the keywords you’ve worked hard to optimise your page around those keywords will appear as bold in the description. Again, this lets people know your site is relevant to their search.

Use one or two eye-catching symbols to make your description stand out. I repeat: “one or two”! Moderation is the key! Have a look at this nifty website for characters you can copy and paste into your description.

Common pitfalls

Of course there are a few things you should avoid when writing your description tags. The first is caps lock: turn it off! There’s nothing more off-putting than a description written in uppercase. It looks unprofessional, which is probably something you don’t want to associate with your business!

The same thing goes for using lots of punctuation. One exclamation mark is quite enough to get your point across!

Remember I mentioned about including something like your phone number? It probably goes without saying, but don’t put your domain name in there…

Make sure you make the most of the 200 characters. Searchers may perceive your site as content-light if there’s not much in the way of description. The whole point of a website is to provide your visitors with useful content, so that’s definitely something you want to convey in the description!

But don’t waffle! Make sure those 200 characters are all useful and relevant. Searchers have little patience so keep them engaged and interested enough to visit your site!

Describe your pages!

It might seem like extra work, but it’ll be well worth your while to give your page descriptions some thought. Remember, appearing on search results is one thing, but it’s wasted work if nobody feels like clicking through to your site!

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