Web Copy Writing: Description Meta Tag

Creating Dynamic Page Descriptions

 

The Description META Tag. Even though a web surfer won't see this copy when he visits your page, some search engines will display it in their search results. Since the search engine stores this text on its initial visit, even if you use cloaking or redirection, the copy for this tag must be fit for human consumption! To plan this copy, check the search engine you are targeting to see how much of the description it displays, and plan the length and content accordingly.

Like your Title tag, the Description tag copy should be INTERESTING and INVITING. Your objective with this copy is to create click-through traffic. The ONLY time the surfer will see this text is if the search engine displays it, so you needn't worry about being redundant with the text on the page. Here are a few examples of real descriptions from a search on "furniture":

Find furniture, decorating and interior design solutions for your home and office with your online decorating partner, [companyname].com! Find bargains on furniture, decor, gifts, furnishings, mattresses, beds, bedroom suites, entertainment furni

[A bit wordy, though it explains quite a bit. End portion cut off by this SE]

Discount, top quality furniture and mattresses delivered direct to you!

[Short, punchy, and to the point]

furniture site of discount furniture dealers across furniture land of North Carolina

[This copy is aimed at search engines, not readers]

Furniture discounts on high quality furniture.

[Another keyword packer hoping that a high position is more important than reader-friendly copy]

In comparing these, it's interesting to note that none of these appear to be truly dynamic copy that might be the product of a professional advertising agency. Like the Title tag, since the Description tag is hidden in the page's HTML, it often receives scant attention compared to the "visible" page copy. Don't fall into this trap - this humble, short paragraph may get more views that the site itself, and if the copy lacks appeal surfers will click on other links. Spend the time to write copy that will invite searchers to click on your link!

If your optimization requires strict word counts and keyword repeats, coming up with copy may be more difficult. It's still possible, though. Compare the following two examples that use the same number of words and even have the same keyword placement:

furniture site of discount furniture dealers across furniture land of North Carolina [original]

Furniture bargains! Low, discount furniture prices from furniture dealers across North Carolina! [revised]

While we don't know exactly what the original writer was striving for in keywords and content, in my opinion the second Description will look more professional and more inviting than the first. In striving for improved copy, of course, don't compromise your ranking objectives. Great copy on page 8 of the search results will be totally ineffective. Follow the guidance of your optimization tools or templates, and try to build the most effective copy you can within those constraints.

High rankings aren't incompatible with good copy - it is just a bit more time consuming to accomplish both! [For more information on Meta tags, see the Meta Tag Help File.]

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