12 tips for the perfect description tag
After reading ‘Description tag: what is it and why is it so important?’ you know what a description tag is and why it matters so much.
But how do you write a good description tag? These 12 tips should point you in the right direction.
1. Use no more than 155 characters
Google shows only the first 160 characters of the description tag. After that, it simply adds an ellipsis (…). If you want to play it safe, don’t use more than 155 characters. Don’t forget: spaces and punctuation marks count as characters too.
2. Use keywords you want to score with for that page
Google only shows the description tag if there’s a sufficiently strong content relation between the description tag, the user’s query and the content of the page.
If you want Google to show your description tag, be sure to include the page’s keyword(s) in it.
3. Don’t create false expectations
Everybody likes to have loads of visitors. But it’s actually more important to get the right visitors.
Luring people to your website with vague promises or inaccurate description tags will work against you in the long run. Sure, you might get more people to click on your result in Google. But if you can’t deliver on your promise, they’ll be gone in a hurry. And they won’t come back.
4. Tell the user what to expect
The description tag needs to tell the user what the page is about. It should be a concise summary of your page.
5. Think about your target audience
Hopefully, every page on your website has a purpose. Some pages can be informative, others might be pages where you want to sell a particular product. Think about the goal of your page and the kind of people you want to attract. Make sure the description tag reflects that.
With our article ‘Information architecture: the basics’ we want to reach people who don’t know a lot about information architecture.
Our product page ‘Information architecture’ wants to attract people who are ready to make use of our services to improve their website’s information structure.
6. Write properly
Reading your description tag should be a pleasure, not a chore. So don’t just pile up the keywords but give people a proper indication of what the page is about.
You don’t necessarily have to write full sentences but do make sure it’s easy to read.
7. To the point
You’ve only got 155 characters. That means there’s no time for beating about the bush. Make your point in those 155 characters.
8. Don’t just repeat the page title
The description tag gives you 155 extra characters to explain what a page is about and to get people to click on your result in Google. Don’t just repeat the title tag, use those 155 characters to give extra information. (Read our 8 tips for the perfect title tag)
9. Being commercial won’t hurt you
There’s no shame in being commercial. If you know there’s one thing that makes your page stand out from the competition’s, say so.
You offer a best-price guarantee? Say so. Better yet: include the product’s price in the description tag.
Or include your phone number: “Order your tickets online or call 03 333 33 33”. Convenient for people who don’t have time or who are surfing on their mobile and need info fast.
If you offer a free online quote for a particular service, that’s a great way to end your description tag: “Get a free quote online”.
10. Unique for every page
Create a unique description tag for every page. Great for Google and for your visitors.
11. Use the right language
Make sure the description tag is in the same language as the page. Seems ridiculous to even mention but on multi-language sites you often see the description tags are all in one language.
12. What about the description tag of a language choice page?
That’s a hard one. Don’t write ‘Choose your language’ or ‘Language choice’. That says absolutely nothing.
Instead, say what your company does in your site’s main languages.
Feel free to add more tips of your own in the comments.