The importance of description in website optimization
One of the first elements to pay attention to when optimizing a website is the title and description. We wrote about title in the previous optimization article: Title tag in website optimization. In this text, we devote our full attention to the description element.
What is description?
The description is part of the HTML of the website and, as the name suggests, is the description of the website. It is about the home page of the website as well as each of its subpages. The description should provide the most important information about the content of the website.
Currently (as opposed to the situation from a few years ago), the description does not have a direct impact on the position of the website in the Google search engine. However, it is of great importance due to the so-called marketing point of view.
Typing text in place of this meta tag does not guarantee that it will appear in Google search results. This is due to the choice made by the machines of this company, which select the text fragment of a given website that best suits the Internet user's query. Depending on the question asked, it can be a description in the description as well as another one in the page content.
Where is the description?
The description is a meta tag and is located at the top of the page's head section, right below the title tag:
Where is the description visible?
The meta tag description is contained in the HTML code and is not directly visible to the website user. The Internet user meets this description in Google search results, where it is the third and fourth line of the page description (the first is, of course, the title, and the second is the url):
Additionally, on social media, the description is often automatically downloaded as the description that appears under the photo of the post:
Why do we need a description?
We mentioned earlier that this element is important from a marketing point of view. What's more, it can increase conversion on the website. The content entered there will be a kind of advertising slogan or a headline describing the website. A skilfully composed description together with the title tag will result in entering our website or resigning from visiting it. In addition to the title and url of the page, description is the first message that the recipient encounters about our site.
Therefore, if you want to put some form of call to action in this place, go ahead, this is the most appropriate place for it.
Be sure to add the keyword to description. Placing the phrase here does not have a direct impact on the position in search engines, but as an element of website optimization it has a lot of importance. A keyword added to the title and then duplicated in the description, H1 and H2 headers and in the page content gives google robots a clear signal about the topic of the page. Such emphasis increases the probability that a specific subpage of the website will appear high in the search results for that keyword. Of course, without strong links, such action will be limited in scope, but it will certainly help.
Let us add that it is not about duplicating the description title to description, but the use of the same keyword here and here.
From 74 to 247 characters in the page description field
As in the case of title, we can enter as many characters as we want into the description tag. It's just that in Google search results they will appear ... how many?
Currently, WordPress SEO plugins still show 156 characters as the allowed number in the description. At the same time, it is worth paying attention to how much space certain letters can take up on a website.
156 characters of lowercase "l" are as follows:
156 characters of lowercase "w" take up much more space:
The plug is one thing and the search engine is another reality. That's why we did a little experiment. We entered the Google search window with a sequence of several dozen lowercase letters "w". Among other things, the following search result appeared:
In this case, the search engine gave the result in the form of capital letters. Note that the keyword you entered has been bolded. Therefore, in the field where the description meta tag text usually appears, 74 characters of uppercase and bold letters "W" were placed by the search engine's algorithm, including three dots at the end.
And what happens if we enter the letter "l" in Google in one string? We will get, among others, the following result:
There is a total of 247 characters including three dots.
So we can see that Google - just like in the case of the title tag - uses a width specified in pixels for the description. Therefore, keep in mind that the number of characters will vary depending on the following:
type of letters - as you can see above, the letter "w" takes up more pixels than the letter "l",
case-sensitive - uppercase letters take up more space than lowercase letters,
the use of specific punctuation marks, e.g. "-" takes up more space than "|",
bold keywords - after entering a given keyword in the search window, it is highlighted by Google in the search results, which may increase the space occupied by bold letters,
if the “allowed” number of characters is exceeded, the search engine cuts the description text by placing 3 dots at the end, which takes up a space that can be used for a description.
In a word, Google has now also started using a pixel limit to define the width of the text in the description meta tag.
What should the description length be?
So how many characters should the description have? As we showed above, there is currently no single, fixed number of characters. However, in the SEO industry, 150 characters are considered a relatively safe average.
How to optimize the description?
When creating the description meta description that works best for your page, keep the following guidelines in mind:
Use the appropriate length of description (approx. 150 characters).
Adding unique content in the description tag:
With regard to title - description, it should not duplicate the text from the title tag,
In relation to the content on the page - the description should not duplicate the content on the given subpage,
In relation to other subpages of a given website - the description should be unique on each page.
A selected keyword should be inserted in the description. However, it is not worth stuffing too many keywords in this place. The keyword contained in title should be duplicated in the description, and then in the content of the described page, preferably in the same variant.
The content of the description meta tag should describe the given page of the website.
Skilful use of the description meta tag in conjunction with the text contained in the title tag can increase the conversion of a specific page of the website, and thus also affect the sale of products or services offered through the website. That is why it is worth taking advantage of the possibilities associated with this element and devoting enough time to creating the best descriptions for each subpage of your website.