Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Best Practices

Meta Tags

What is a meta description tag?
A meta description tag is a short description of a webpage that is embedded in the head tag section of a page’s HTML. Though it’s not visible on the actual page, search engines use meta tags in SERPs. The images show a meta tag in a SERP and in HTML.

Why are meta description tags important?
Search engines don’t take meta description tags into consideration when ranking webpages. However, that doesn’t mean meta tags are less important than any other aspect of the website’s SEO. The goal of SEO is to help searchers find the best content. Meta text is integral to that goal. This tag is the text that appears under a result, as shown earlier. It is a short description of the page’s data that should encourage the searcher to click the link.
If webpages don’t have meta description tags, search engines will substitute text from the page’s content or pull information from a website index. This is usually undesirable, since the substitute text is not optimized.

How proper meta description tags are made:
As stated, a meta description tag is a short description of a webpage’s contents. It should not exceed 160 characters, since search engines truncate the description at that length. It’s important to include a high-quality meta description tag in each webpage. If one is not provided, a less reliable tag will be found. For example, a poor or substitute meta description tag may resemble the image shown, which is the text from the top of the page, rather than an optimized meta tag.

Meta description tags should include keywords the page focuses on. This is not a place to keyword load. Instead, it should be an easy-to-read, easy-to-understand summary of a page’s contents. It’s very similar to a tweet; only necessary information is included.This page is a good example:

Do Not:

ISU Best Practice
Format: Keyword and explanation of how keyword relates to the reader. What about the Keyword will reader find on the page?
Length:No more than 160 characters
Content:Tweet-like summary of contents: Everything the searcher needs and no more.
Appearance (HTML): In head tag, meta name=”description” content=”This is where the meta text goes. It is visible in search engine results and tells the searcher what the page contains.”
Spelling & grammar: Should use proper English, should contain no spelling errors, and should be punctuated correctly.