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Google talks about descriptions

Google doesn’t often update its guidelines for things like description meta tags, but it has recently, and we should probably take notice.

Google calls the descriptive lines beneath the page titles in its results ‘snippets’, and these can be where our description meta tags are used. The search engine says that it “sometimes uses tag content to generate snippets, if we think they give users a more accurate description than can be taken directly from the page content.” But even this is only a secondary potential source, after ‘structured data‘.

That’s still reason enough to spend some time on description meta tags, in my opinion, so here are some examples of bad and better meta descriptions:

  • A list of keywords is bad. Better is a plain English description of the page including some of those keywords.
  • Using the same description for every page is bad. Better is to use a snippet from the page itself.
  • Being too short is bad. Better is a longer, specific and detailed description. Google’s examples are actually longer than the traditional recommended 160 characters, although I’d stick to this if you think Google might use your description, as provided and in full.