Many of you are probably asking, “What the heck is a meta description?” Well, if you read our article on Website Search Words you’ve already learned a bit about meta keywords. A meta description is similar to your keywords except that is a descriptive sentence describing the website. An executive summary of sorts. It is most effective if you work in the meta keywords that we discussed earlier. Without it, you miss an opportunity to again rank just a little higher in searches.
All that being said, the description should not be thrown together in a couple of minutes. It is usually more effective to think about it, write it and then review it a few times. It should sum up much of what you want conveyed to a visitor, a potential customer remember, to your website. Almost as bad as throwing a description together in the spur of the moment is making one so terribly long that the search engines simply truncate it.
A bad meta description could be something like:
XYZ Barbecue makes good barbecue.
Don’t laugh, I have actually seen businesses that did exactly this kind of thing, or worse. I actually laughed so hard about split open when I saw a meta description from one business on the page of a different one. Obviously, either the website “developer” (and I use that term loosely) either re-used one of his earlier developments as the basis for this company’s website or swiped off of another site from a different developer. Both of these are common, especially among those that are trying to develop a website for their business themselves.
A better meta description would be:
XYZ Barbecue, of Branson, Missouri, is the best place to go for barbecue, ribs, steaks, sandwiches and microbrewery beer in the Ozarks region. We feature a five-time award winning barbecue sauce on our slow smoked hickory meats, served by our friendly staff at our lake-view restaurant.
It is also most effective is to tailor a unique meta description for each page. After all the summary of each page should be a little different, right? And, while we are on the subject of different elements on different pages, don’t forget to make the page title descriptive at the same time. This is another simple but often overlooked area that could be helping rather than crippling your website. How often have you looked in the upper left hand corner of your browser to see the simple word “home”? Well, the title is where that little blurb comes from. You just as easily have “XYZ Barbecue Home” in that spot.
Hopefully, this discussion will help you get a grasp on what the Meta Description actually is without making your eyes glaze over. This is important stuff.