Meta description tags, as the name implies, are pieces of information tagged on top of web pages, both literally as text found towards the top of a web page’s source code and figuratively as descriptive language attached to that same web page in SERPs and elsewhere.
To see a prime example of a meta description tag, go to google.com on a laptop using Chrome as your browser, punch Ctrl+U, and look for the below text starting around the second line of the source code you just uncovered.
<meta content=”Search the world’s information, including webpages, images, videos and more. Google has many special features to help you find exactly what you’re looking for.” name=”description”>
A count of the characters in the main body of text above (after “content” and before “name”) adds up to 159. The WordPress Meta Description Editor (which was used to create this page) encourages tags of 120-155 characters in length.
As mentioned above, these descriptions often (but not always) show up in SERPs produced by Google and other search engines, and, regardless of whether the tag text is ever actually seen by your visitors, it’s a pretty sure bet that same text just might be used by the same search engines to get a better idea of what your page is about. In one ironic sidenote, if you plug “google.com” into the search field on google.com, Google cuts off its own description tag at 155 characters (so it’s probably best to keep such tags in the 120-155 character range mentioned above).
Also, if you’re displaying ads on your site to generate revenue, the same description tags can also be used by Google Ads and similar services to get a better idea of what relevant ads to serve up on the page and other pages on the site (i.e., with the below meta description tag, the ads you might see on this page and elsewhere on this site might have something to do with Search Engine Optimization consulting services, getting more click-throughs, etc.).
<meta content=”Read SEO Expert Bill Hammons’ two cents on Meta Description Tags, which often appear in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) & can encourage click-throughs.” name=”description”>
Finally, try to keep the description tags unique for each and every page. That said, I haven’t found conclusive arguments on other SEO websites that duplicate description tags are bad, and I’ve used the same relevant description tag on several related web pages and seen them still rank fairly well in the search engines.