Description tags are an important part of an effective SEO strategy because of the impact they have on your click through rate. Big businesses spend tens of thousands of dollars researching consumer behavior to determine which trigger words make online searchers click.
What Is A Description Tag
A description tag is a snippet of html code that tells search engines what a web page is about. This tag is the second tag search engines usually index after the page’s title tag.
On the Search Engine Results Page’s (SERPs), the description tag is displayed under the clickable title tag. If a description tag is not coded into a web page, search engines will display a snippet of text from the web page.
Description Tag Etiquette
Search engines display up to 160 characters from the description tag on SERP’s. If your description tag is over 160 characters it’s likely it will be cut off or ignored completely. (Update** Google now allows up to 300 characters in your description tag.)
When writing your description tag, be sure to include your keyword at the beginning of the description. Keywords display in bold text on SERP’s and draw the attention of online searchers.
How Does A Description Tag Improve Search Rankings
Although the description tag itself does not carry any weight for ranking purposes, it is vital in moving up on SERP’s. A well written description tag catches the searchers attention and intrigues them to want to click through to your website.
Since Google and other major search engines strive on providing the highest quality content to their users, signals like click through rate impact your position on SERP’s. A higher click through rate will help your website rank higher on SERP’s.
In 2015 Rand Fishkin put the click through rate hypothesis to the test. He went on Twitter and asked his followers to search for a specific term and then click on his result on the SERP. Within 3 hours his web page went from the 7th position on the first page to the 1st position on the first page. You can read more about this test at https://moz.com/rand/queries-clicks-influence-googles-results/
Researching Description Tags For a Better Click Through Rate
We found the best way to research description tags is to focus on the paid ads big businesses are running on Google. Some of these companies spend millions of dollars monthly so it’s pretty safe to say they know what works.
At this point you should already know they keywords you want to focus on so all you have to do is a Google search. Search for every keyword you want to rank for and watch for commonalities in the ads showing up on the first page of SERPs.
Once you have identified 2 or 3 trigger words, it’s time to incorporate them into your description tag. As mentioned above, keep your keyword at the beginning of the description tag but also try to use one of your trigger words shortly after. Since description tags contain more characters than Google Ads, adding a second trigger word is recommended to help increase click through rates.
Although the meta description does not carry any SEO weight itself, it is an important factor. Your meta description is the sales copy that makes online searchers skip by your listing or click through to your website. Take the time needed to find the right trigger words that make people move and watch your click through rate increase.