3 Things Your Description Tag Must Contain

Ian Lurie

The description META tag won’t do much to improve your rankings. But it’s really important. If you write a good description tag, your search results will look something like this:

energystar- yay

Search engines pull the ‘snippet’ you see above from the description tag. If you don’t write one, or write a lousy one, you might end up with something like this:

whirlpool - oops

That last search result is missing a few things. Always make sure your description tag has the following:

  1. A reason to click. Why should I visit Whirlpool’s web site? Hmmm. Good question. Maybe they could say something about their newest, coolest model, or widest selection, or some such. But just saying ‘we have lots of colors’ really doesn’t get it done. Treat your description tag like a sales headline. Hint: Read Brian Clark’s post about great headlines.
  2. More text. Google’s testing different snippet sizes. Go into more detail. Put as much information in there as you can.
  3. Structure. Put your strongest point – that great headline – first. That way even a short snippet will show your best message.

Here’s how I’d write the Whirlpool description tag. I’d include their brand statement (get more done) and an invitation:

“Whirlpool’s energy-efficient, easy-to-use dishwashers help you get more done. Select models using our handy online wizard. See how: Click here. Etc. etc. more detail here.”

I wrote this after a day in which I lost my cell phone in a taxi cab. Which makes me feel dumb. So if you don’t like the description tag I wrote, please, make fun of me to my back, not my face. Thanks.

Bonus: If you’re a local business, include your location and phone number. Sometimes, folks will just pick up the phone right there.

Bonus 2: I wrote about title tag formulas last week.

Ian Lurie
CEO & Founder

Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent and the EVP of Marketing Services at Clearlink. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Follow him on Twitter at portentint, and on LinkedIn at LinkedIn.com/in/ianlurie.

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  1. Good tip. I tried experimenting without a description tag once. I looked at how Google displayed the links, and it was almost embarrassing. There was nothing their, not even the first part of text in the content. Just simple links to the page. Always include a description, and if you can make it sell, even better.

  2. Thanks for the tips! Just have one question, do you have any recommendations on how to build in meta description tag using wordpress? It requires plugin to build individual description right? Can you recommend 1 or 2 plugin? Thanks in advance.

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